St. Charles museum exhibits local logging industry
ST. CHARLES – A new logging exhibit opened at the St. Charles Area Museum earlier this month. Museum curator Jim Palmer, trustee Mike Olson and Tina Beeler, who works as the museum’s secretary and research assistant, performed most of the work preparing the exhibit for public viewing. Palmer called Beeler a Godsend for all the work she’s done to help make this new exhibit a reality.
Beeler said, “We did it together. It was a lot of work. The museum depends upon volunteers to stay open.”
The exhibit is filled with extremely old logs, vintage photographs, a mural, a giant saw blade, crosscut saws, and a variety of other tools from the logging trade.
Mike and Terry Quellet, of St. Charles, donated all of the logging artifacts, and Mike Quellet helped set up the display. It took years to find these historic pieces. Many logs are imprinted with various log marks, which helped to identify the logging companies that cut down the trees and sent them down the river. Palmer explained that old logs like these could still be at the bottom of the Saginaw or Tittabawassee Rivers. They’re pieces of Michigan history.
Beeler said, “1834 was the when the logging industry came to St. Charles.” The museum has a vast listing of log marks. However, it’s quite a task to match the mark on a log at the museum with one that’s on the list of logger marks because there were so many marks that were never recorded.
Logging pins were used to help sort logs. There’s a mural on the wall, donated by St. Charles resident Greg Armstrong of Ultimate Graphic & Sign. The mural illustrates how logging pins were used to keep logs together on the river. Palmer explained now logging pins are rare pieces to find, and are part of the area’s logging history. The museum has several on display.
Beeler said local museums need donations to survive. But first, people need to visit the museum and see the historic value of the exhibits to really appreciate them.
Beeler said, “Our biggest challenge is trying to get people through the door. During the month of March we have homemade punch and coffee and have a drawing for a piece of history.”
The museum has other exhibits; including military, coal mining, railroad, farming, school, sports, a hat display, and an AeroCraft boat exhibit about the boats that were once manufactured in St. Charles. The railroad collection includes a 1941 Chessie caboose, which sits outside the museum. The caboose is available for tours.
“There’s a little bit for everyone in this museum. We have a lot of photos and history about St. Charles. Like any museum, we run on donations. We are out of storage and would like to put up more displays,” Beeler said.
Those interested in supporting the St. Charles Area Museum are invited to stop by during the hours of operation; Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon; and Thursdays from 6 until 8 p.m. Visits can also be arranged by appointment by calling the museum at (989) 865-9115.
The St. Charles Area Museum is also on Facebook, where donations can be collected through PayPal.
The St. Charles Area Museum in located on the south end of Saginaw Street in St. Charles, at 603 Chesaning St. s.
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