Lumbering was a major industry in Mackinaw City from around 1880 to 1930.
Our historic village needed a connection with that history so we researched ideas for a lumber mill or perhaps a re-creation of the clothespin factory that survived here for a few years. Often chance is better than research as we got a call from the Soo Locks, in existence since the mid-1800s. They had received money to buy a new saw and wondered if we would like their old one purchased around the turn of the century. After a visit and hundreds of questions we learned that the locks are lined with 12" by 12" timbers. If a freighter bumps the walls, these timbers, which are cut on site, provide a forgiving surface. We gratefully took the saw and it is now housed inside the sawmill building. It is a circular saw with a blade 5 feet in diameter than can handle logs up to 12 feet in length.
Board member Greg Harwick volunteered to turn the saw into a sawmill. He bought discarded highway sign posts, cut them, and built the framework. He also constructed the building. All of this he donated, including the labor. This year he intends to finish the construction and get the saw working, using the power of a large tractor. Ultimately we will have a historic engine powering our sawmill and use it to cut timbers for our many projects.
Return visits to our village will ensure you will see the sawmill working.