Lambs to the Slaughter

The former plant of the Detroit Tullar Envelope Co. at 2051-2065 W. Fort Street is currently being demolished, as of September 2014. There is also a very strong possibility that this was where the first practical household refrigerators were built, by Kelvinator. Read on.


I managed to sneak in there several months ago, to find its interior essentially un-vandalized. Ironically the owner, hated trillionaire monopolist Matty Maroun, announced plans to heroically demolish this blighted structure several weeks after my visit.

Image from Google Streetview
This announcement followed his surprise demolition of the similarly blighted structure he owned nearby at 2600 W. Fort Street, the House of the Good Shepherd Girls Reformatory Laundry, which he used as a thinly-veiled ploy to improve his moribund public image and adversarial relations with city government by bravely rescuing the city from the clutches of yet another dilapidated structure (even though his own deliberate neglect had resulted in it being blighted in the first place).


Unfortunately, both of these historic structures were still very sound, and could have easily been cleaned up and put back to productive use, had they been owned by anyone but a professional land speculator. I first noticed something was up with this building when all of the windows suddenly disappeared one day over the winter. I figured renovation work was underway, but then nothing else seemed to happen. Little did I know, it was merely Maroun slyly demolishing another building by neglect the way he had done with the House of the Good Shepherd building.

According to the Free Press, Maroun's Ambassador Bridge Co. bought this cluster of buildings in November 2013, and had "no immediate plans for that land once it’s cleared." If you recall from an earlier post of mine, this plant stood adjacent to the Schwarz Foundry Co. on the other side of Vermont Street from it, which was also demolished in recent years. Another group of recently demolished Maroun-owned structures on this stretch of Fort Street was the Cloyd Container Corp.


I had a hunch that this plant had something to do with the paper industry once centered in this sector of the west waterfront, but I needed to find a name, or at least an exact listed address for the building in order to begin researching.


I headed toward the front of the building, where it seemed the plant offices were located.


Over the main stairs, a massive hole had opened in the roof, which I supposed had once been a skylight:


According to some paperwork I found in the breached records safe in one of the offices, the address of this plant is 2065 W. Fort, and it housed the Detroit Tullar Envelope Co., though the addresses 2744 W. Fort and 2766 W. Fort also appeared a lot, indicating that other buildings were in use by this firm elsewhere.


In any case, both of those addresses are now occupied by the Ambassador Bridge toll plaza. Another address I found listed (in 1949) for Tullar Envelope is 1040 14th St., which is about a block away from this plant, at W. Lafayette, a vacant lot across from what is now the Green Dot Stables.


A musty 1946-vintage document I pilfered from the safe was a license agreement between Tullar Envelope and the F.L. Smithe Machine Co. of Manhattan for the use of one of the latter's Champion Wide Range Rotary Window Envelope Machines.

Looks like one of the more recent employees was an ex-Yooper:

Soumalainen Sisu!!
I found another document that dated to 1972, and seemed to indicate that this place was then called the Boise-Cascade Corp. Envelope Division's Detroit Plant, though a printout from December 31, 1974 still showed the Tullar Envelope Co. name listed on company payroll documents. I had something to go on now at least, and had a pretty easy time piecing together most of the rest of this factory's history.


You can see in the next photo that this front building was a much older style of timber construction, separate from the taller building to the rear that was added-on with reinforced concrete construction:


The original factory space was converted at some point into offices for the newer plant that was added onto the rear. The c.1884 Sanborn map for this block appears to show this mill-construction style building at 2051-2065 W. Fort (originally numbered 621-623) as belonging to the Union Brewing Co. Peter Blum's book Brewed in Detroit notes that the Union Brewing Co. moved into this building, 621 W. Fort Street, in the year 1883. Per an ad in R.L. Polk & Co.'s Detroit City Directory Union Brewing were the "successors to East India Brewing Co. and Detroit Bottling Co.," and were "Brewers and Bottlers of India Pale Ale, Porter, Half-and-Half, and Hoptonic," who also were licensed agents to produce for Voigt's and Mann's Lager. East India Brewing was listed in Polk's 1882 directory at 630 W. Woodbridge, as "Ale and Porter Brewers and Maltsters."

By 1897 the Sanborn maps show this structure belonging to the Hees, McFarlane & Co. Window Shade Factory, and Polk's directory says that Union Brewing had moved to 24-36 Mitchell Street, probably near current Stroh River Place. Hees, McFarlane & Co. is listed in the 1913 Polk's at 957 Hubbard Avenue, which is about a mile further west on Fort Street.

Sanborns from 1921 have the 2051-2065 building as occupied by Kelvinator Corporation (founded in Detroit in 1914), This implies that the building was either vacant or tenanted by another unknown party for about six years from the time Hees, McFarlane & Co. moved out. According to the maps, Kelvinator first occupied this building as a place for machining, assembling compressor units, and japanning processes, then later as the Nash-Kelvinator parts & service department. Could this building have been the original home of the Kelvinator, essentially the world's first practical electric home refrigerator?

Kelvinator Corp.'s original name, Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Co., never showed up in Polk's directories. Under the Kelvinator name it first shows up in 1916 at 1507 Kresge Building, and then in 1918 at 104 W. Congress, but those addresses are almost undoubtedly offices or labs, not manufacturing locations. The book The Technology Century, by Mike Davis mentions a (now demolished) machine shop on E. Jefferson Avenue at Chene as the place the first Kelvinator units were made in 1917, but I don't think Kelvinator owned it. The 1919-1920 edition of Polk's lists Kelvinator as having moved in at 621 W. Fort, so this building probably was indeed their first real factory before moving into their landmark headquarters on Plymouth Road in 1926.

Everybody acknowledges that Detroit's contribution of the practical automobile was the single most significant invention of the 20th century, but I would argue that the invention of the practical household refrigerator was of equal importance to shaping modern man's way of life. Therefore I think that one could have probably started a fairly strong case for getting a historic landmark designation for this building--if anyone had known or cared, that is.


When the switch from Kelvinator to Tullar occurred I do not exactly know either, but Tullar were at least the fourth tenants, and since the Nash-Kelvinator merger occurred in 1937, Tullar probably didn't move in here until about 1940. I still don't positively know when the building was originally constructed either, since I can't get any Sanborns older than 1884, but it was definitely standing in 1883. Anyway, back to Tullar.

The generally dependable Clarence M. Burton profiles the biography of one B.S. Barnard, listing him as the secretary and treasurer of the Tullar Envelope Co. in the 1920s. Burton writes that Barnard was born near Toronto and came to Detroit in 1913, joining "C.W." and "H.K." Tullar in the employ of their company, but says nothing of the company itself.


Digging a little deeper, I found that The Book of Detroiters, compiled in 1914 by Albert Marquis, profiles Chester Wagner Tullar, but does not explain who "H.K." was. Chester Tullar was born in Neenah, Wisconsin and worked with the Mineral Lake Lumber Co. until 1896 when he came to Detroit. Mr. Tullar was employed with the Western Newspaper Union until 1901, at which time he got into the envelope manufacturing business.

By the way, one should not confuse this Mr. Tullar with Mr. Tuller, a downtown Detroit hotel chain owner who lived during the same time period.


Somewhere, a publication exists about the company entitled "Fifty Years of Envelope Making," which was printed in 1951, so if my math is correct, I have to assume that means that Tullar Envelope was indeed founded in 1901.

Marquis writes that Chester Tullar was a Methodist, a Rotarian, a member of the Detroit Board of Commerce, and the Detroit Credit Men's Association. His office was listed at 67 Larned, and his residence was at 201 Hazelwood (note: these addresses predate the city-wide renumbering in 1920).


I've come across commonly placed Tullar adverts in 1920s-era trade periodicals for "SMALL ENVELOPES," giving the dimensions (usually only a couple inches in size), for "enclosing small articles produced by automatic machinery at very reasonable prices." Another of Tullar's commonly seen ads promoted their "WINDOW ENVELOPES," in slightly larger sizes, on stock that could be had in "whites, manilas, and tints," made at the "Most complete plant in the Middle West."


A Michigan Department of Labor report from 1920 shows that in that year the plant had a total workforce of 37 people, 24 of whom were female, and all of which were above the age of 16.


An article in a circa-1918 trade publication I found via Google Books, the American Stationer and Office Manager, tells of the business of the Tullar Envelope Co., and their place in the market. The company's offices are this time listed at 39 W. Congress, while a different publication from the same year lists them at 45 W. Congress (again, by the old numbering system).


The article explains that Tullar mostly made envelopes for business, and that in fact Detroit was "one of the big national users of stationary," making the choice to locate a plant here that could produce all kinds of custom envelopes a very "timely" decision. Their machinery could be set up to make the largest or smallest envelopes, as well as any shape desired. Again, much of the plant's work was in specialty orders for demanding commercial customers, and did not "cater to fancy trade." There was also a department of the plant given over entirely to the production of special envelopes for circulars and advertising matter.

The large building in this next photo with the big tinted windows actually used to belong to the Chope-Sievens Paper Co., now converted to lofts:


Chester Tullar applied for a patent on an innovation of his in March of 1932, a removable opaque insert for window envelopes. In the language of his application, he explained that window envelopes, while designed to allow the name and location of the addressee to be seen without having to reprint it on the outside of an envelope, "are open to the objection that unless the paper surrounding the window is opaque, letters inclosed in the envelope may be easily read upon holding the same over an electric or other strong light."


It was the purpose of his invention "to overcome these and other objectional features of the window envelope while still retaining the advantages secured through its use." Tullar's patent was granted in June of 1934, and has since been referenced in four other succeeding patents, the most recent of which was filed in 1997.


A February, 1946 article in a Rochester, New York newspaper tells of the Detroit Tullar Envelope plant's acquisition by the Rochester Envelope Co. The article also implied that Tullar Envelope was actually a subsidiary of Rochester Envelope at that time. This plant contained 40,000 square feet of space according to the article, which would help the Rochester company "make room" for its "rapidly expanding business in that area."


A Michigan State University archive holds the records of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, and by browsing in the collection's catalogue it appears as though the Tullar Envelope plant's employees were organized under Teamsters Local #299--at least for the years 1956 to 1959, which are the dates of the records held in that collection.

You may recognize that local as the one that famous Detroit labor agitator Jimmy Hoffa was chosen to lead in 1946. Local #299 still resides nearby today at 2741 Trumbull.


The Tullar Envelope Co. was still listed in the Directory of Michigan Manufacturers as of 1980, and a Michigan business directory website shows the company as having been dissolved on February 18, 1986. I assume that was when this plant was abandoned for good, though parts of it may still have served in some small capacity in the interim.


All the scrap wood on the floor appears to have been the material that was covering all the windows before Maroun paid people to go in and rip it all out, to be replaced with nothing.

This photo looks out from an upper floor of the taller, reinforced concrete addition to the rear of the plant, over the roof of what was the original, timber-constructed part of the plant fronting on Fort Street:


This sticker I saw on the side of a network server on the first floor while exiting the building made me decide to take a picture of it for reference:


Thanks to Clarence Burton once again, it would seem that in 1911 Robert A. Patrick of Detroit's Dresskell Paper Co. was approached by one of the largest paper firms in the nation, Bermingham & Seaman Co. of Chicago, regarding setting up operations in the Detroit market. The new venture was dubbed the Seaman-Patrick Paper Co. in 1917. Seaman-Patrick owned this building for a time, though they now reside at the 2000 Howard Street address shown on the sticker.


An aerial view of the Tullar Envelope plant and its surroundings (click to enlarge):

Image from Google Maps
I wrote a lot about Michigan's connection to the history of refrigeration in other posts on this website:
The "Cathedral of Refrigeration"
How Detroit and the Yoopee Used to be Connected
Acme Jackson
'Welcome to the Jungle' ~or~ 'Reefer Madness'
Arctic Ice Cream


References:
The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, by Clarence Monroe Burton, p. 687
The Directory of Michigan Manufacturers, 1980, p. 470
Industrial Detroit: The Variety and Scope of Manufacturing Industries in the Fourth City (1930), p. 18
The Book of Detroiters, Second Edition (1914), by Albert Nelson Marquis, p. 494
American Stationer and Office Manager, Vol. 83 (1918), p. 24
Michigan Department of Labor Thirty-Seventh Annual Report, 1920, p. 280
http://www.michigancompanieslist.com/tullar-envelope-company-63l0/
Lockwood's Directory of the Paper and Stationary Trade (1918), p. 435
"Envelope Firm Buys Factory in Detroit," The Daily Record (Rochester, NY), Feb. 20, 1946
Princeton Alumni Weekly, Volume 49 (July, 1949), p. 48
Sanborn Map, Detroit, Vol. 1, Sheet 38 (1897)
Sanborn Map, Detroit, Vol. 1, Sheet 38 (1921)
Sanborn Map, Detroit, Vol. 1, Sheet 20 (1884)
Brewed in Detroit: Breweries and Beers Since 1830, Vol. 1, by Peter H. Blum, p. 101
http://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/kelvinator-corporation
The Technology Century, by the Engineering Society, edited by Mike Davis p. 208-210
R.L. Polk & Co.'s Detroit City Directory, 1882 to 1920

Detroit's Motor Row

Note: Because this was one of those sudden unexpected ones and I was without my good camera, many photos in this post were taken by my girlfriend, and edited by me. However, they still remain the copyrighted property of nailhed.com.

Update: As of January 28, 2015, the building was sold and slated to become a Carhartt store, celebrating its grand reopening on August 27. From what I can tell by looking through the windows, much of the original decor has since been obscured or done away with during the renovation.


Somehow along the way, Chicago's "Motor Row" has out-shined (or at least outlived) Detroit's own version of the same thing in the remembrance of American automobile history. In the early 20th century major cities developed these districts that were soon called "motor rows" where a consumer's every car-related need could be fulfilled--from sales, to accessories, to repair and service.


Car companies clustered together along these strips, vying for the customer's favor next to their stablemates. The fancier a dealer showroom was, the more the public would pay attention, and this building is one of the last remaining examples of that world in the Motor City.


According to the AIA's Guide to Detroit Architecture, this snazzy beast at 5800 Cass was designed in 1928 by an "unknown" architect as an integrated car showroom, service garage, and business office. It especially notes the "stepped-arch" treatments over the second story windows, and the front entrance, saying that the "proto-modern, floating entry feature and detailing are handled with energy and discipline."

Whoever this mystery architect was, he was an old hand at the game, and some have asserted that the building was in fact designed by Charles N. Agree. For what it's worth, I have noticed that Agree enjoyed using the "stepped-arch" on several other buildings he has designed around the city.


Upon a little bit more research myself, I found that the building was currently up for sale, and listed on the front page of MidtownDetroit.com, which just so happened to include an image of the architect's facade drawings dated to September of 1928 showing Charles Agree's name, as well as listing Marmon as the customer commissioning the building:

Drawing, courtesy of midtowndetroit.com, seems to have gone bye-bye.
Hits on the Bentley Historical Library's online catalogue seem to verify even further that it was Agree's work. A page on Waymarking.com quotes a (now-defunct) link from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways website that describes the Cass Motor Sales Building as "a fine example of 1920s Art Deco styling as applied to commercial structures."
The relationship between Cass Motor Sales and Marmon Motor Company is illustrative of a phase in the history of the automobile industry when, before the Great Depression of the 1930s, numerous small and medium size automobile manufacturing companies occupied a tiny but significant sector of the marketplace. Cass Motor Sales also reflects the transition in land use within the University-Cultural Center, away from a more strictly residential area to a commercial and mixed-use area.
In other words, it heralded the beginning of the "Midtown" we know today.


It goes on to say that the company called Cass Motor Sales was originally established as a Chrysler dealership in 1925, but that this building at 5800 Cass was not constructed until 1928.

A rather useful article in the Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, Vol. 27 entitled "Exhibitors at the 1921 Detroit Show" lists addresses of the company showrooms who were taking part in the early version of today's North American International Auto Show. Showrooms it listed along this stretch of Cass included the Columbia Motors showroom at 4221 Cass, Cadillac Motors at 6001 Cass, Buick Motors at 6800 Cass, Holmes-Detroit Automobile Co. at 4130 Cass, Franklin Motors at 3745 Cass, Detroit Electric Car Co. at 5860 Cass, Oakland Motors at 6540 Cass, Winton Motors at 4465 Cass, and Signal Motor Trucks at 5850 Cass.

I should probably mention that this stretch of Cass was not the only "motor row" in Detroit--there once were several, all over the city.


Both Marmon and Lexington Motors were listed in a building at 5940 Cass that is no longer standing. In fact many of these addresses are no longer standing, partially because the I-94 expressway trench cut its way through the middle of the 5800 block--this building itself is perched precariously over the canyon, and its bare northern wall has been painted with billboard ads.

I was about to say how ironic it is that historic automotive buildings were obliterated by transportation progress that the automobile itself started, but it's not ironic--it's perfectly typical.


Now, with the recent plans to widen I-94, the historic United Sound Systems Recording Studio on the opposite side of the freeway at Second Avenue has been threatened with demolition. Unfortunately, it has been asserted in an MDOT study (Section 6.4.3) that if the widening plans were altered to go around the United Sound building, Cass Motor Sales would then have to be demolished--and since it is protected by National Landmark status and United Sound is not, things aren't looking good for that important piece of Detroit's music history.


So what about Marmon? An article, "The Prolific and Innovative Marmon," by Dennis E. Horvath says that the firm started making cars in 1902 in Indianapolis, Indiana, eventually building three plants in that city, but ceased operation in 1933. According to autos.ca, Marmon won the first Indy 500 race in 1911.


In its day, Marmon was among that elite clique of Peerless, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg, and Cadillac at the very pinnacle of American automobile engineering and luxury. After the Great Depression was through with the auto industry, only Cadillac and Packard would remain standing. Marmon pioneered the use of aluminum in the auto industry, both as a body material, and for engine blocks.


Marmon's crowning achievement was the development of their 491 cubic-inch V16 engine, which--fatefully--debuted in 1930 just as the Great Depression was becoming very real, and no one could buy such extravagances anymore. Nonetheless, the Society of Automotive Engineers hailed the beautiful Marmon Sixteen as “the most notable engineering achievement of 1930.”


When most people speak of V16s today however, the name mentioned is not Marmon but Cadillac, who happened to introduce their V16 in the 1930 model year as well. According to the article "Cadillac V-16: Worth Its Weight in Prestige" by Robert C. Ackerman, both Marmon and Cadillac began developing their 16s in 1926, though I have seen some sources that claim Marmon was the originator of the concept, and that Cadillac was able to cut Marmon off at the pass with the help of a former Marmon engineer who had defected over to Cadillac.


Peerless Motors (no relation to Peerless Cement) was also working on a 16 at the same time, supposedly with the help of yet another defecting Marmon engineer. Bugatti had a "U-16" engine in 1915, but it was essentially two conjoined straight-8s.


According to the book 80 Years of Cadillac-LaSalle by Walter M.P. McCall, Cadillac's decision to build and street a 16-cylinder was a calculated power move that was aimed directly at dethroning Packard from its exalted position of opulence at the top of the American luxury car market. "In an era of fours, sixes, and straight eights, the public was dazzled by the very notion of a sixteen-cylinder powerplant," McCall observes.


Packard had been strutting their kingly V12 for a few years already, so Cadillac and Marmon both vied to topple their seemingly impenetrable fame by doing the only thing that could possibly top such an engineering marvel--tacking on a bunch more cylinders. Marmon's V16 cranked a full 200 horsepower--making it the second most powerful car in America behind Duesenberg's supercharged straight-8. The general consensus however was that a 16 always ran smoother than an 8.

A car built large enough to handle such a powerplant was capable of reaching a top speed in excess of 100mph, whereas the contemporary vehicle of the day, Ford's Model-A, was completely maxed-out at a mere 65mph. Whether there were any roads yet in existence where one could even attempt to successfully drive a car at 100mph is doubtful, but that day was coming.


Less than 400 Marmon Sixteens were ever built. The company was kaput by 1933. Compare this to Cadillac's V16 production run of 4,403 units. Owing to the strength of being part of General Motors, Cadillac was much better equipped to take the sales losses. Marmon's sales & service building in Chicago's Motor Row is seen HERE.


The Michigan Automobile Dealers Association Yearbook and Directory for 1963 shows that this building at 5800 Cass housed the showrooms of the Chrysler, Plymouth, and Valiant brands at that time. The building was most recently used by Dalgleish Cadillac.


For this building to have remained so perfectly intact with original fixtures and furnishings is an incredible feat for a building of its age in Detroit.


References:
AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture, by Eric J. Hill, p. 170
Michigan Automobile Dealers Association Yearbook and Directory, 1963, p. 77
Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, Volume 27, p. 40-41
80 Years of Cadillac-LaSalle, by Walter M.P. McCall, p. 143
http://www.hemmings.com/hmn/stories/2010/07/01/hmn_feature22.html
http://detroit1701.org/CassMotors.htm#.VBuGKFZhPwI
http://www.autogiftgarage.com/carculture/2014/02/use-of-aluminum-in-autos-debuted-in-1902/
"Cadillac V-16: Worth Its Weight in Prestige" by Robert C. Ackerman, Standard Catalogue of Cadillac (First Edition), edited by Mary Sieber & Ken Buttolph, p.36-39
"Motown Review, A Brief Bus Tour of Detroit and Vicinity," by Charles K. Hyde, the Society for Commercial Archaeology (1988)
http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/landmarksweb/web/districtdetails.htm?disId=20
http://www.autos.ca/motoring-memories/motoring-memories-marmon/
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dpa1ic/x-calee017/calee017.tif
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/explore/byways/13754/places/37257/
"The Prolific and Innovative Marmon," by Dennis E. Horvath
http://uniquecarsandparts.com/lost_marques_peerless.htm
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MDOT_I-94_FEIS_Chapter_6_118005_7.pdf
http://www.mlive.com/business/detroit/index.ssf/2015/08/dearborn-based_carhartt_hammer.html

Drummond Island, Pt. 3: “It's Dolomite, Baby!”

August, 2012.

After I dismounted from my tight-rope act, I took one last look back at the beast I had just conquered, and saw that here came one of the American Courage's sister ships, the American Spirit:


Skipping along down the beach back to my car with a shit-eating grin on my face, I was totally ready to get to the island and grip up some grub, asap. I got back to my car and drove into the center of town where I found there to be quite a line for the ferry.


I was afraid I would have to wait for the next one, but luckily the Drummond ferry is significantly larger than the Neebish one, and I lucked out. I got out of my truck and sat on the roof of the cab. I figured, if this boat starts to go down for some reason, and the life vests are all way over there, I ain't gonna be the one struggling to hurry and get out of my vehicle and run over there in a big mob when everybody tries to open their car doors simultaneously. I'm gonna be the one using their heads as stepping stones as I run to grab my vest, haha. This way, I also had a better view for the 15-minute-or-so ride.


I began to see why the St. Mary's waterway is one of the top boat-watching places...the Anderson (which is the boat that was with the Edmund Fitzgerald the night the latter went down) crossed our path as we motored for Drummond. Finally, I was going to check this island off my list. There had actually been a skirmish in these waters during the War of 1812, after the Second Battle of Mackinac.

In my brief preparations for this exploration, I delved as far as I could into what man-made things remained on the island. I came up with about three shipwrecks that were supposed to be visible, a sawmill ruin, and a rumored Indian mound near the Potaganissing River south of the Maxton Plains, plus Fort Drummond. Fort Drummond was the last British post ever built on American soil, in 1814. There are also the notable dolomite cliffs at Marble Head on the eastern edge of the island that sounded worthy of checking out, and Fossil Beach along its north shore, which is basically a beach made of solid dolomite, containing an abundance of exposed fossils.


Like the rest of the Yoopee, Drummond is geologically diverse and profitable, but in a far different way than the western Yoopee. Nearing the dock, we passed the dolomite quarry, once and probably still the world's largest dolomite quarry, which has been operating since 1853. The first three locks of the Soo Locks were built using stone quarried here. Drummond Island is basically an outcropping of 400 million year old limestone known as Engadine Dolomite, which extends from Niagara Falls to Minnesota. It is said that the first Americans to settle on Drummond were Daniel and Betsy Seaman, who came from King James Strang's Mormon kingdom on Beaver Island in 1850 (but that is another story). Other Mormons allegedly followed, probably after the alleged assassination of their king and breakup of the Mormon cult on Beaver Island by the U.S. government.

After our ferry came to a halt and the gate dropped, I sped off down the road past where I knew Fort Drummond to be, in search of food. I also missed the turn-off to Pigeon Cove where the wreck of the 173ft. Delaware supposedly lay beached. I ended up at Chuck's Place...an old timey-looking “up north” bar on the road to Johnswood, which is where the sawmill ruins were. After eating I waddled out of the bar and continued down the road to Scammon Bay which is where the ghost town of Johnswood (originally called Kreetan) had been.

The old sawmill was fairly easy to find because of the giant sign proclaiming “OWN THE HISTORIC JOHNSWOOD LUMBERMILL--FOR SALE!” at the roadside, though the actual ruins were almost a quarter mile back along a winding two-track in a copse of trees on the banks of the cove. There sure were a lot of “LAND FOR SALE” signs on this island.


I was especially excited about this, being that finally I would be getting to explore a sawmill, since even though they were such a major part of Michigan's history almost none remain standing. Which is probably because almost none were built out of concrete like this one.


According to the Drummond Chamber of Commerce website, lumber operations on Scammon Cove started in the fall of 1883, and this eventually became the largest mill on the island, controlled by Island Cedar Company, which was made up of Chicago investors.


That company moved in 1890 to DeTour, but Harold Johnson inherited the property and turned the mill into the H.C. Johnson Co., but was later bought out by C.H. Wood of Buffalo, a maker of piano keys. In 1914, the name of the post office was changed from Kreetan to reflect these two stakeholders' names—“Johns Wood.”


Of the mill production, the article by Gerry Bailey says,
Continuously, through these years of name change, the sawmill poured out lumber ten hours a day, six days a week. The mill produced, in an average ten hour day, forty thousand board feet of hardwood lumber and sixty thousand in softwood, the “boxmill” production was in addition to that. There were numerous (8-20) lumber camps cutting 8, 12, and 16 foot logs for transport to the mill, and twenty to thirty miles of narrow gauge railroad was laid to transport the logs.

The main rail connection shot northeast toward Glen Cove, Bailey writes, "with several spurs that went up north of Dry Lake, east to Marble Head and south, nearly to Bass Cove, to haul logs out to Scammon Cove." This timber was sawed at the mill in Johnswood and left for market aboard sailing ships.


Bailey also notes that in its heyday, Johnswood had "a mill working two 10-hour shifts, a company store, a boarding house, a row of two-story houses, a row of one-story houses, a clubhouse, a silent-picture theater, a small hospital and was served by telegraph, a school, a post office and the above mentioned railroad."


In 1920, as so often happened, the mill caught fire. By 1925 it was decided that lumber operations here were basically a wrap anyway. "The Finns," Bailey says, "who had been led to Drummond Island by Maggie Walz, dispersed across the Island and today their descendants continue to make up a significant percentage of the Island residents."


By 1927, the Johnswood post office had closed. In other words, the town was already history.


Not much is left of Johnswood Village; only two "original" structures remain. One is the "Stone-house" where C. H. Wood resided, and the other is the "Wayfarers Mart." According to Gerry Bailey, "the Wayfarers Mart was built in 1915 as the company store for the sawmill. In the 1940s it reopened as an eclectic, full-service, sporting goods store. It is currently a private residence."


Just off the shore here lay the wreck of the 187ft. schooner barge Troy, built at Marine City in 1872. She hauled lumber on the Great Lakes for most of her life, and reportedly burned at this dock in 1920, presumably in the same fire that consumed the sawmill. Unfortunately nothing seems to be sticking up above the water for me to see.


The other shipwreck in Scammon Cove is that of the tug Silver Spray, built at the F.W. Wheeler yard during Bay City's shipbuilding heyday. Though she was originally home ported in Marquette, she was the tug used to maneuver the big schooner barges such as the Troy into and out of Scammon Cove to the lumber mill. Supposedly more of this boat is visible above water, but it was laying on the other side of the cove, whose shoreline is entirely privately-owned, so I did not really bother to go looking. It would be nice to come back up here with my boat sometime and get a closer look at stuff like this.

After satisfying myself with the sawmill, I thought about what to hit next. It basically came to a choice between going north to Maxton Plains and Fossil Beach, or east to Marble Head. Maxton Plains is a type of alvar grassland that exists only here, on nearby Manitoulin Island, and in Latvia. But since I wanted to be able to say I've been to the easternmost point of the Yoopee, I chose Marble Head. I figured I could give Fort Drummond a shot tomorrow morning when I head back to the ferry.

This did not simply go off without a hitch...I had trouble locating the correct road, based on the imprecise directions I had. Many of the roads on the island are just trails, and not named. This caused me to waste a couple hours, and I also learned a lesson in just how big Drummond Island is. In fact I got to a point where I realized that I actually should stop what I was doing, and go back into “town” to fill up on gas. I was highly annoyed I had to drive all the way back there for that, but being that I was about to embark out on some prettttty rough backroads and night was going to fall soon, I could not risk being out there with only 1/8 tank.

When I set back to figuring out these cryptic directions, the sun was sinking in the west. They said “head towards Glen Cove, but when you get to Corned Beef Junction, turn right, not left. Then when you can't go any further, get out and walk about three miles to Marble Head.” Okay, easy enough, but where the fuck is this “Corned Beef Junction?” Is it some word-of-mouth snowmobiler lingo nickname that I'm just supposed to know, and isn't marked anywhere on a map? Well it definitely is not marked on any map, but there is a sign. Nailed to a big old maple tree:


I only found this after a lot of hunt-and-peck navigation over narrow rocky paths. Once I passed Corned Beef the trail became even rockier and more uneven. I was basically driving on shattered dolomite shards and through the occasional mud puddle. I had no idea where this “when you can't go any further” place was, or what it looked like, but in the interest of time I was determined to go as far as possible in my vehicle. I was seeing the occasional 4-wheelers and hardcore Jeepers along the way, and yet here I was tooling along in a beat up 4-banger 2WD.


I was really out in the middle of nowhere...the desolation was comparable to Isle Royale at times. At the more ugly obstacles I had to roll over or around them with great care as opposed to charging ahead like the people with true ORVs. But I did pretty good. I came to a wide open three-way trail intersection with space to park amongst the broken rock, and a sign that warned of the rough trail conditions ahead, and that only those with ORV stickers should continue ahead.

I looked up into the woods ahead and decided to chance it. I was able to tough it out for almost another mile. Right after I passed a small clearing on the left with some kind of wooden shack erected at the edge of the trees, I encountered the first of many obstacles that were just too much for my little Rusty Camel. I wasted no time in situating myself and my gear to hike out immediately. The sun was setting fast, and if I had three miles to cover over this nasty muddy ground, I would be pushing it to reach Marble Head by nightfall. And the last thing I wanted to do was have to roll out my sleeping bag next to a mud puddle.

I realized as I started power-walking down the trail that I was going to be able to see the full moon rise from the dolomite cliffs, and that made me want to hurry all the more.


This kind of sucked. Trudging through this chocolate mousse mixed with boulders was grueling at times, especially when the mosquitoes came at me. After about 20 minutes I came to the first of many obstacles that my truck not just “maybe,” but absolutely would not have made it past. I had a strong suspicion that hidden in the murky water of many of these puddles were probably some radiator-piercing boulders waiting to impale those who did not have enough lift.


The slightly more greenish coloration of that water leads me to believe that it has a high content of antifreeze in it.

A little while later, I came across a debris field containing this:


Silly rabbit, the H3 is for kids.

A long while later, I saw the pale form of a truck's ruined hulk emerge through the trees.


Now this is no mallrat H3...this is a man's truck, son. A 1960s International-Harvester.


Looks like she met a pretty rough end, and even sports a few bullet-holes, but one thing's for sure, she made it farther than that H3.

Closer examination showed that this seemed to be an old panel truck. And on the side:


“FIND IT IN THE YELLOW PAGES.” The local telephone company lineman's work truck? Too cool.

With darkness falling, I was beginning to get concerned about the fact that I had seen no sign of reaching my destination. This was no good. At length I did sense that I was climbing in elevation significantly, but I still had not seen any ORV trail markers in quite some time. By the ORV map I had seen where I left my truck, I knew there were three turns I had to make along this hike. I wondered now if I had made all the right ones. Suddenly the dark woods gave way to a young birch opening, and the trail turned to bare dolomite again. I had to be getting close:


I came to my last intersection, and turned right. I could sense I was getting near; the breeze had a fresh quality to it that I wanted to think came from the lake. I walked another 15 minutes and found myself overlooking the cliffs of Marble Head:


A gorgeous dusk and calm seas...the wind was gentle and balmy. Out over the vast waters was a deep lazy quiet that was occasionally broken only by the sound of some bird or animal in the woods below or behind me. The piece of land out in the distance is actually Cockburn Island, Canada (MAP):


Halfway out into these waters was the imaginary boundary line drawn 200 years ago by appointees from Washington D.C., and a delegate of the King of England (who had apparently a little too much to drink). Hard to think that this was part of Great Britain once, or that our naval forces vied for control of Michigan upon these waves.


I was alone out here. I sat down on the rocks that made up the easternmost point of the Yoopee and relaxed my weary self with a few pulls off the ole campin' whiskey while letting my mind wander.


Suddenly I became aware that the full moon had risen, a vivid red tinge. Quickly it levitated through the murky invisible airs that obscured it at first, to show its full disc.

Manoominike-giizis...what we call the harvest moon, the Ojibwe call the “ricing moon.” It's time to sail your canoe through the marsh with your rice knocker sticks and sing the ricing song while you fill up, basically.


I sat mesmerized as I often do when the moon shows big...


Cockburn Island is pretty big, almost as big as Drummond, but it is completely uninhabited.


Night began to fall, but still I sat.


I rolled my sleeping bag out right there on the edge of the cliffs. The breeze there was perfect to keep the mosquitoes off me, and not too cold. I began to sink into sleep.


A perfect end to a perfect adventure.



*  *  *


I awoke with dew on my face as dawn's strange alchemy turned the sky from pewter to gold.


I knew I had to make haste in getting off the island and on the road because I was meeting someone in Mount Pleasant for lunch.


I took one last look back at Marble Head before turning to face the setting moon at the end of the eastern trail, and proceeded to kick the morning grogginess out with a good stiff walk.


The hike along the ORV trail was no more fun today than it had been last night. It was full daylight before I reached my truck and was bouncing along in it again.

I probably still had a little bit of time to make a go of old Fort Drummond, but being that my directions were once again imprecise and that it was literally in someone's front yard, I canned the idea. I'll come back for it another time, better prepared, I told myself.


I instead meandered quietly through an enchanted cedar grove nearby, sipping the precious coffee I had picked up at a general store on the way back to civilization.

Another bit of trivia about Drummond: Michigan millionaire and Dominoes Pizza founder Tom Monaghan made waves when he bought a huge chunk of the island years ago for use as a retreat.


Finally the ferry arrived and once again I sailed for the mainland. Along the way I had a better view of Frying Pan Island this time, where there had once been a lighthouse. Today it is uninhabited, but you can see some remnants of the station.


The freighter St. Clair crossed our path as we made way for DeTour Village:


The lighthouse in the distance is DeTour Reef Light.


The north end of Frying Pan Island shows what looks (on higher magnification) to be a wrecked boat washed up on some rocks:


Passing the island, I got a better glimpse of the wreck of the Sainte Marie:


According to the Drummond Chamber of Commerce website again,
The wood car ferry Sainte Marie was built at Wyandotte, MI in 1893 by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. for the Mackinac Transportation Co. Her dimensions were: length, 288 feet; beam, 53 feet; hull depth, 19.6 feet; and gross tonnage, 1357 tons. She was used as a passenger and rail car ferry, running between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace from 1893 until 1912. In 1913, she was replaced by a new steel car ferry of the same name.
[It may be appropriate, at this point, to remind the reader that prior to 1957, the Mackinac Bridge did not exist and all travel across the straits of Mackinac was done by ferry boats.] After being retired from service by the Mackinac Transportation Co., the vessel was purchased by T. L. Durocher of DeTour, MI and cut down for use as a barge as part of Mr. Durocher’s salvage, dock and dredge business. When the Sainte Marie’s useful life as a barge was over (circa 1927), Mr. Durocher abandoned the vessel alongside his property in DeTour Village, where it remains to this day.
The Detroit Dry Dock Co., you say? Very cool. I passed through the Les Cheneax on my way home but unfortunately didn't get any good photos.

CLICK for part 4


References:
http://www.drummondislandchamber.com/index.php?page=Lumber_Mill_Ruins