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Deward, Michigan (ghost town) - Mill Foundation | by DecoJim
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Deward, Michigan (ghost town) - Mill Foundation

Deward was a lumbering town in the northeastern corner of Crawford County Michigan. It was named after David Ward, a timber cruiser who found and purchased some of the finest white pine stands in the eastern United States. Some of these tree were said to exceed 170 feet in hieght*. Much of this high quality timber was called "cork" pine because the logs floated high in the water; at this late stage in Michigan's logging era, the logs were shipped by train rather than floated down the river. Lumbering of these last remaining large virgin stands of white pine in the lower peninsula begain in 1901 and ended in 1912. The town lingered on until 1932 when it joined the list of Michigan ghost towns.


* The largest white pine at Hartwick Pines State Park was measured at 155 feet high with a trunk 44 inches in diameter.


The inset image shows the Deward mill nearly complete in 1902. The main view shows what are probably the foundations for the great steam engine that ran the saws and other equipment in the mill. These ruins are from six to ten feet high.


A rather enthusiastic description of the Deward sawmill appeared in an issue of the Frederick Times in 1903:

"At Deward is one of the largest sawmills in the United States and the only mill left in Michigan that cuts pine exclusively. It cuts 200,000 board feet in 20 hours. And it is in all respects a triumph of human genius, colossal in its proportions, perfect and complete in its mechanical constructions and adjustments. It is an industrial marvel."


According to a Mr. Schoaf, who was General Superintendent at Deward, the mill averaged 45 to 50 million board feet of lumber each year and set a record of 52 million board feet one year.


The mill was powered by a large steam engine with an 18 foot flywheel. The belt was constructed of multiple layers of spliced leather and went 40 feet from the flywheel to the main axel. The belt took three months to make and cost $3,000.


The largest tree processed at the mill was a so called monarch white pine. Despite the discarding of the top log and the hollow butt log, eight 16 foot long logs from the great tree were sawed into an impressive 7,856 board feet of lumber. One board foot of lumber is equivalent to a 1 x 12 x 12 inch piece of wood.


Despite the original estimate that the stands of "cork" white pine on David Ward's 80,000 acre holdings would take 20 to 30 years of heavy lumbering to deplete, the mill devoured the white pines in just ten years. On March 16, 1912, the last whistle blew and soon the mill was taken down and shipped away, leaving just its foundations.


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Taken on July 7, 2012