Marion museum celebrates Log Cabin Day

MARION — On Sunday, the quaint one-room log cabin located on the grounds of the Marion Area Historical Museum, was open to the public.

More than 40 history buffs from Marion, McBain, Belmont, Jackson, Ludington and other area towns visited the cabin.

They stepped back in time, joining others throughout Michigan in a celebration of Log Cabin Day, an annual statewide recognition of the nostalgic log structures of pioneering days.

Michigan is the only state to set aside a day every year to pay tribute to the picturesque homes 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 to be known as Log Cabin Day.

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.

The cabin was donated to the Marion Area Historical Society in 1997 by Martin Blackledge of Marion. It was built for his grandmother, Sylvia Gillett Compton.

The cabin is constructed from hand-hewn, hand-notched hemlock logs that were hauled by horse and skid. Standing in the cabin furnished with period furniture and accessories, visitors reminisced about 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 a rare 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 paddles of the wheel as it turns and catches water from the well.

After a visit to the cabin and a relaxing stroll about the peaceful grounds, guests gathered in the museum to explore intriguing displays of Marion memorabilia and enjoy homemade strawberry shortcake with the compliments of the historical society.

Thora Blackledge brought her 13-year-old grandson Nathan Kemkers from Zeeland to visit the cabin which is part of his family’s heritage. She explained that it was built by her husband’s cousin.

“This cabin is really cool,” said Nathan. “It’s really interesting to see how people used to live.”

For Glenda Lloyd from Marion who visited with husband Ron, it was her first look inside the cabin.

“I’ve seen it from the outside but never came inside before,” Glenda said. “I’m glad I came. There are a lot of different things to see and I’m not sure what they’re all used for. There are so many old-fashioned things to see in this little room.”

The museum first opened its doors in 1996. If you haven’t visited recently, you might want to take another look at 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, 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’d like to tour other log cabins in Michigan, see the website of the Log Cabin Society of Michigan (www.qtm.net/logcabincrafts). For a brochure and map of cabin locations, send $1 to Log Cabin Society of Michigan, 3503 Rock Edwards Drive, Sodus, MI 49126.