NORTHERN MICHIGAN – A new segment of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail currently under development will add about 20 miles to the trail’s planned 828-mile biking route, but project managers also plan to add layers of story to this stretch that connects Higgins Lake Nursery and the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum at North Higgins Lake State Park with Hartwick Pines State Park – and you can help.
Led by the Michigan History Center, this heritage trail project in Crawford County – unofficially dubbed the Forest Heritage Trail – is welcoming local history stories. The Center is partnering with Central Michigan University and local stakeholders to identify the unique and critical history of the area and plan for a series of interpretive informational signs for people to enjoy while exploring the trail.
Dan Spegel coordinates Michigan’s Heritage Trails program. He said the right stories can help trail visitors connect with an area’s history and better understand a region’s development, character, and place in the state’s bigger history. He pointed to the Kal-Haven Trail, in southwest Michigan, as an example.
“When we put the call out for the Kal-Haven, the community came forward with some great stories,” he said.
“For example, in 1948 Joe Louis spent a month training at Great Bear Lake to get ready for a fight with Jersey Joe Walcott. We found out that in 1901, A.M. Todd started a mint-oil operation that grew and revolutionized the global industry. We also learned about Julia Schelske, who in 1916 became one of the earliest female car dealers for Ford Motor Company in the town of Grand Junction,” Spegel said. “Bringing those stories into the trail makes for an experience that immerses visitors into the area’s natural and cultural history.”
For more information, contact Dan Spegel at SpegelD@Michigan.gov or call 517-420-6029.