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Categorized | Outdoors

Forest Heritage Trail project seeks local history stories at Dec. 9 online meeting

Forest Heritage Trail project seeks local history stories at Dec. 9 online meeting

A new segment of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail currently under development will add about 20 miles to the trails 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.

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“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 areas natural and cultural history.”

Spegel stressed that heritage stories about the Forest Heritage Trail do not have to directly connect to or be about the forest. That working title for the project was chosen simply because the completed trail segment will connect the CCC Museum with Hartwick Pines, and the forest clearly has a strong presence/history in the area.

Want to learn more about the project and share some stories? Join in a virtual meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9. Advance registration for the meeting is not needed; just visit TinyURL.com/Forest-Heritage-Trail around 6:50 p.m. to sign in and join the meeting.

For more information, contact Dan Spegel at SpegelD@Michigan.gov or 517-420-6029.

The Michigan History Center fosters curiosity, enjoyment and inspiration rooted in Michigans stories. Our 12 museums and historic sites across the state provide family-friendly places where people of all ages can have fun actively learning about their heritage and the history of Michigan seven days a week through exhibits, special events and diverse programming. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mhc.

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