It has often been asked, "Why the stumps in the river?"
In a way, the stumps tell the story of Elk Rapids. In the beginning the trees grew there while the land was still dry. As one can see in the photograph of the blast furnace, which was taken in 1874, the buidlings are in the upper right corner of the image. Those trees were probably some of the first trees cut in Elk Rapids, having been made into lumber at Abram Wadsworth's sawmill below Library Hill.
Library Hill wasn't an island until Dexter and Noble changed the course of the Elk River to build their sawmill and create the first dam in 1856.
That was when the water from the Chain of Lakes began to rise. In 1868 the sawmill was rebuilt to accommodate the increase in production of lumber, which also raised the water levels.
In 1881 the sawmill was rebuilt to raise water levels of the lakes to allow additional lumber to be floated downstream to Elk Rapids.
In 1913 the sawmill closed and was town down. In 1916 the hydro-electric plant was built, with water levels fluctuating until 1974 when the Court decreed that the water be held at a specific level. It should be noted that the level of the Chain of Lakes is 11 feet higher than that of Grand Traverse Bay.
So the stumps in the Elk River remind us of the unique history and growth of Elk Rapids.
· A view of the Hydro Electric Plant from East Grand Traverse Bay, c.1920.
· The original Dexter-Noble sawmill had a capacity of three million feet annually. In 1861, a gang-saw mill was built with a capacity of 10 million feet annually. · By 1867, the Dexter-Noble sawmill was cutting 100,000 feet of lumber every 24 hours.
· The Dexter and Noble Iron Works operation that included a blast furnace showing buildings that were once across the Elk River from this pavilion.
· In 1881 this mill was built and ran continually until the lumber business came to a close in 1913.
· Charles Mannary shows off his 40.5 lb. musky caught near Elk Rapids on February 19, 1925.
Photos courtesy of the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society. The Elk Rapids Area Historical Museum is located at 301 Traverse St. in Elk Rapids. Map Courtesy of Michigan Maps, Inc., Elk Rapids.
©2012 Village of Elk Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission.