Lumberman Monument

Location: Oscoda, Michigan

Webpage: Huron National Forest

General Description: The Lumberman Monument is the centerpiece along the River Road Scenic Byway in Huron-Manistee National Forest.  The Lumberman Monument is dedicated to the early logging history of Michigan in the second half of the 19th century.  The very large white pine forests in Michigan were in high demand for housing in the mid-West, ships, and other manufacturing that were growing throughout the Great Lakes region.  From the Civil War to the end of the 19th Century, logging was the major industry in Michigan.  During this time land could be bought for $1.25 an acre, so small lumber companies would buy the land, clearcut the trees during the winter, and float them to the sawmills with the spring thaw and rain.  Much of this land would eventually become farms, however, this process could be slow leading into the early part of the 20th century with German and Scandinavian immigrants.  Fires were prevalent over this period some burning thousands of acres.  Reforestation of those areas not suitable for farming did not begin until the CCC planted millions of trees in the 1930s.  Consequently the forests of today are no more than 80 years old, which is still very young for this latitude.  The Lumberman Monument remembers these two periods of clearcutting and reforestation on the Huron-Manistee National Forest along the AuSable River.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) The centerpiece of the monument is a large bronze statue depicting a timber cruiser, sawyer, and loggers.  In addition to this main statue are examples of a small logjam, stacks of logs that would be created on the river banks during the winter, and the use of a peavey used to break up log jams.  There is also an exhibit to the CCC that replanted the forests during the Great Depression.

2) Leading down from the monument is a wooden staircase to the bank of the AuSable River.  Floating along the bank is a wanigan, the floating kitchen used at the time to feed the loggers during the spring drive along the river.  There is also a short trail to an overlook of one of the sandy banks that would hold the logs cut over the winter.  Leading from this trail is another short nature hike through a managed red pine forest.

3) The monument is one stop along the River Road National Scenic Byway that is along the beautiful AuSable River with many stops along the way.  Notable attractions are the five hydroelectric dams built from 1911-1917 along the river to supply electrical power to Flint, Michigan.  The Canoer’s Monument which celebrates the ongoing AuSable River Canoe Marathon which began in 1947 to increase tourism to this region.  This annual marathon is a 120 mile canoe race that is the longest non-stop canoe only race in North America and takes 14-19 hours.  Other stops have spectacular views of the AuSable River from the high banks south of the river.