Friday, August 16, 2013

The Pine Mountain Ski Jumping tournament is February 8-10, 2013 in Iron Mountain MI. Ski jumpers from around the world will climb Giant Pine Mountain in order to be “King of the Hill”. This will be the 75th annual tournament. 
The Pine Mountain ski slide at one time was the highest artificial ski jump in the world. It was the culmination of constant interest of a small number of skiing enthusiasts, later augmented by a growing group of winter sport devotees in Iron Mountain and Kingsford.
In 1929, an artificial slide was built on Hemlock Street, facing Brown Street, on land donated by E.G. Kingsford. The slide was built by local riders.
Poor snow in 1930 dampened skiing enthusiasm, and nothing was done until 1933, when the original jumpers and a second group which had been riding Lightning Hill, combined, and, with funds contributed by local merchants and manufacturers, constructed the Devil’s Hill Slide, the first all-metal slide in the Upper Peninsula. Shortly after the new slide had been put in use, riders, with the support of the Kiwanis Club, formed the Kiwanis Ski Club on January 5, 1934. The Devil’s Hill Slide was dedicated January 21 of the same year before a crowd of 5,000 persons. Tournaments were held on Devil’s Hill annually for the next four years. This slide was near Crystal lake and was dismantled for scrap iron during World War II.

The development of Pine Mountain was undertaken by the Dickinson County Board of Park Trustees in 1937 at the request of various civic and governmental bodies. Some work had been done earlier by Ted Kingsford and Hold Eskil, then Breitung Township supervisor, but the job was unable to be completed, so the deed to the property was given to the park group with the understanding that the park trustees complete the construction.
The board submitted a W.P.A. project covering all necessary remaining work, calling for the construction of a steel scaffold, 156 feet high, and clearing and grading of the landing area. Work on the ski slide was completed late in 1938, and the first tournament was held early the following year, with the Kiwanis Ski Club as host, and the newly formed Iron Mountain-Kingsford Winter Sports Association, a non-profit organization, acting as sponsor.
At the first Pine Mountain Tournament, Bob Roecker, riding for the Duluth Ski Club, shattered the American jumping record held by Alf Engen, of Salt Lake City, with a leap of 257 feet for a new American record.

Pine Mountain Slide has been renovated several times. In 1948 the landing hill was dug out for longer jumps, and in 1977 a fire burned out the top of the slide. New starting gates were added and the slide made higher.Pine Mountain Slide is known throughout the world as one of the best jumping hills. The Kiwanis Ski Club hosts the best tournament in the United States. Year after year, they have the top foreign jumpers competing. All classes of records have been set on Pine Mountain, and the record of the U.S at 143.5 meters/470.8 feet is still held here.
Updates will be coming on special appearances and events in connection with the 75th annual event.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fumee Lake Natural Area

With spring FINALLY starting to arrive, everyone will be wanting to get outside and stretch their legs.  The Fumee Lake Natural Area has a number of unique features.  Fumee Lake and Little Fumee Lake provide a total of five miles of undeveloped shoreline. In addition to numerous wetlands, 507 acres of surface water holds a fishery deemed "very remarkable and unique" by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The area has historically been home to a number of  rare or threatened species including the Bald Eagle, Common Loon, and seventeen species of orchids.  Three plants on Michigan's Threatened Species list are found here: Walking Fern, Purple Cliff-brake and Marsh Grass of Parnassus.

The Fumee Lake Natural Area is used by educators to teach students about ecology. A number of non-motorized recreational opportunities await its visitors. Hiking, biking, bird watching, and nature photography in the spring, summer, and fall; Cross country skiing and snow shoeing in the winter months. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this four-season natural area. 
The Fumee Lake Commission invites the public to participate in their annual guided Spring Nature Walk at the Fumee Lake Natural Area.  This walk is for wildflower enthusiasts, bird watchers and nature lovers of all ages.
Wildflowers, birds, wildlife and some history of the area will be woven into this year’s walk. Your guide will be Phyllis Carlson of Quinnesec.  She will point out many of the wildflowers and orchids that can be found at Fumee, plus teach you some of the folklore surrounding them.  She will tell you about the Loons and Eagles that nest at Fumee, identify frog calls and point out other wildlife that happens to come by. Birdwatchers will want to keep an eye out for other birds, including warblers, which live and breed in the natural area.  Photographers will find a variety of subjects to capture.
The date of the walk is Sat. May 25, 8am. Meet at the East parking lot off the Upper Pine Creek Rd (off US2 between Quinnesec and Norway).  The walk will be approximately 1 1/2miles and 2-3hrs. Participants should dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bird and/or wildflower field guides are suggested. Birdwatchers should bring binoculars and photographers are encouraged to bring their cameras.  There is no charge to participate and a County park sticker in not required.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The History of the City of Kingsford

Several years ago we printed a full sized magazine with information on the area. Roger Scott, the former Treasurer for the City of Kingsford submitted this brief history of the forming of the City of Kingsford for that publication. Here is a copy of that letter..hope Mr. Scott is enjoying his retirement!

The History of the City of Kingsford

Kingsford's early history was a quiet one. In 1920, the population was a mere 40 residents, as there were no settled communities, no stores or businesses.

Then came a man named Ford.

Henry Ford had been eyeing the reserves of iron and timber in the Upper Peninsula since 1912. He contacted Edward G. Kingsford to express interest in acquiring raw materials for his factories. Kingsford, the husband of Ford's cousin, Minnie Flaherty, was a real estate agent and owned a Ford dealership in the area.

The Ford Motor Company had plans to locate a sawmill and parts plant in the Upper Peninsula to manufacture the wooden components for Ford automobiles. E. G. Kingsford facilitated the purchase of 313,447 acres of land for Ford and in 1920 construction began, employing more than 3,000 in the first year. On December 29, 1923, the charter for the newly formed Village of Kingsford was approved. By 1925, employment supporting the Ford Motor Company expansion to Dickinson County peaked at 7,500 workers.

Henry Ford's influence in Kingsford was vast and enduring. Ford sought affordable, modern housing for his employees and constructed over 100 homes in what is now known as the Ford Addition. Many other landmarks bear his name such as the Ford Airport, Ford Dam, Ford Clubhouse, Ford Hospital, Ford Park and Ford Commissary.

 Henry Ford's world class facility in Kingsford was the jewel of his empire during that era. The production of the "Woody" station wagon bodies and the conversion to glider production during World War II highlighted Ford's accomplishments in Kingsford. To make use of the waste wood generated by the sawmill, a chemical plant was constructed and in operation by 1924. The chemical plant reclaimed, from every ton of scrap wood, a variety of saleable byproducts. The 610 pounds of charcoal reclaimed per ton was manufactured into briquettes and sold, known as Ford Charcoal Briquettes.

The village flourished through the war years and on August 7, 1947, a city charter was approved. Henry Ford II eventually closed the sawmill and parts plant in 1951 and sold the chemical operation to a group of local business interests that formed an enterprise known as the Kingsford Chemical Company. The charcoal briquette plant  continued and renamed their product Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes, which has become a household name. The plant continued operation in Kingsford until 1961, and was then relocated to Louisville, Kentucky.