New Chassell Historic Trail includes interpretative signs, digital storybook

The project was made possible due to numerous partners.
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 8:08 PM EDT
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CHASSELL, Mich. (WLUC) - The Chassell Historic Trail is now open to the public.

The .4-mile-long trail loops around a wetland area starting at the southern end of Centennial Park. The area was once the home of the Sturgeon River Lumber Company and later the Worcester Lumber Company.

The idea for the trail started in 2017 due to popular demand, according to Chassell Historical Organization (CHO) President Keith Meyers.

“Our residents here in Chassell had indicated in response to a survey that we had sent out about recreation that they wanted to see more trails,” said Meyers. “And a member of our planning commission, Doug Hamar, suggested the possibility of developing a historic trail here.”

Hamar is the landowner of the area, with his great-grandfather, Edward, once being a mill superintendent of the Worcester company. Hamar provided an easement to the project.

A generous grant of an undisclosed amount from the John and Melissa Besse Foundation also allowed for boardwalks to be built for the trail. Other partners included Chassell Township School students and its Principal Marco Guidotti, and previous CHO Curators Mat Moore and Luanne Hamel.

Michigan Tech University (MTU) also pitched in to assist. This included work from MTU Assistant Teaching Professor Terrif Frew and the students of her fall 2022 Art and Design class. The university’s Industrial Heritage and Archeology program also assisted by conducting research at the mill site.

This information was put into nine information signs dotted along the trail.

“We felt it’s important, as people who study the past at Michigan Tech, to help people understand what it is they’re looking at when they see a foundation in the woods, or they see an old smokestack or some timbers in the water,” said MTU Social Sciences Department Chair Don Lafrenier. “You know what those were used for, and why that was important to shaping, in this case, the town of Chassell.”

Lafrenier handles a program called the Keweenaw Time Traveler. It is a program that uses maps from different periods to give visitors a better glimpse at where they stand historically while visiting the Keweenaw’s historical locations.

QR codes on the trail’s information signs allow visitors to access a ‘storybook’ in the program for children to learn with. They are guided by a character called Stanley the Strawberry.

“Stanley goes back in time to learn more about the lumber industry here and realize why the lumber industry is so important, not just for the town of Chassell, but for the whole entire Copper Country as well,” said MTU Social Sciences Program Ph.D. Candidate James Juip.

The Chassell Historical Organization would like to thank everyone who made the trails’ creation possible.