Cabin fever can be a good thing

MARION — On Sunday, visitors from Marion and the surrounding area stood in the quaint one-room log cabin on the grounds of the Marion Area Historical Museum and stepped back in time, joining others throughout our state who paused for a moment to reminisce about life in a bygone era.

The museum and the cabin were open to the public as part of Log Cabin Day, a statewide recognition of the rustic log structures of our pioneering days. Marion is one of dozens of locations in the state that commemorated the solid, long-lasting homes that sheltered the hardy families who founded our first communities.

Michigan is the only state that has an annual tribute to the picturesque cabins of our early settlers.

The Michigan Legislature originally proclaimed a log cabin day as part of the sesquicentennial celebration in 1987 marking the 150th anniversary of Michigan’s admission to statehood. Public response was enthusiastic, resulting in a bill designating the last Sunday of June every year to be known as Log Cabin Day.

“Our log cabin was donated to the Marion Area Historical Society in 1997 by Martin Blackledge of Marion,” said museum curator Donna Geyer. “It was built for Martin’s grandmother, Sylvia Gillett Compton.”

The cabin is constructed from hand-hewn, hand-notched hemlock logs that were hauled by horse and skid. It is furnished with period furniture and accessories that create a nostalgic picture of a simpler, more rugged lifestyle.

The plank flooring, old-fashioned cookstove and cooking utensils, oil lamps, sturdy table and chairs, plain cupboards, narrow bed and vintage coverlets provide an intriguing glimpse into the daily life of Marion’s first residents.

A Marion landmark, the cabin sits in the serene grounds of the museum near a scenic pond and working waterwheel installed in 1998. The soothing sound of tumbling water is generated by the 16 paddles of the wheel as it turns and catches water from the well.

After a visit to the cabin and a relaxing stroll around the peaceful grounds, guests entered the museum where they explored the fascinating displays and exhibits of Marion memorabilia and enjoyed homemade strawberry shortcake with the compliments of the historical society.

“The community of Marion is fortunate to have a museum and a historical society to preserve the past and sponsor such interesting events every year,” said Marion resident Jack Johnston. “I moved to the town fairly recently and I’m interested in history. The museum is a great place to learn more about the town and this area the way it used to be.”

“This is the first time I have been inside the log cabin,” said Marionite Susan Hall. “I’ve visited the museum, but this is the first time to see the log cabin. It’s very quaint and I feel lucky that there is an authentic log cabin right here on the museum grounds with old-fashioned furniture in it.”

It’s been quite a few years since the museum opened its doors in 1996. Have you visited recently? There are items you may not have seen, such as recent acquisitions, collections from the archives on temporary display or exhibits on loan from neighboring museums.

To learn more about the museum and log cabin, the summer opening hours and upcoming events, contact society president, Rita Emmons at 231-743-6448. The museum is at 505 S. Mill St. (M-66), Marion.

If you are interested in touring other log cabins in Michigan, see the website of the Log Cabin Society of Michigan ( For a brochure and map of cabin locations, send $1 to Log Cabin Society of Michigan, 3503 Rock Edwards Drive, Sodus, MI 49126.