Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, April 29, 2018, pg. 18

We continue with our story from last week, quoted from the Albion Recorder, July 9, 1919, pg. 2:

"About 18 years ago a certain gentleman who was a resident of Albion, now deceased, used to make occasional fishing trips to a little lake near Spring Arbor station. This body of water and one other, each about the size of a silver dollar, were surrounded by acres of apparently useless marsh. But our Albion resident had a keen eye and a far seeing one. He noted the white mud that lay at the bottom of the coarse dense marsh grass and imparted his knowledge to certain friends, with the result that one of our foremost chemists was called to pass upon its commercial possibilities. His analysis showed it to be a mine of wealth and immediately a company of Albion and Detroit men was organized who purchased the farms which included the marsh land surrounding the lake."

"The work of removing the marl began on a small but rapidly increasing scale and it was not long before the attention of the Peerless Portland Cement Co. of Union City was directed toward the new industry, and negotiations looking towards its purchase were begun resulting in the latter company soon acquiring possession."

"The work of development went forward. Spurs were put in from the MCRR Air Line that ran between the two lakes, boarding houses were built for the workers who themselves were building barges that carry four freight cars each out into the lake to receive their loads of marl out of the marshy shore. Dredges went steaming and fussing up and down the edge devouring the land in great chunks like a small boy biting into his cookie."

"This has been going on for more than a decade. Each day but the Sabbath from March to November, sees 18 carloads of marl sent over the road to the Union City factory. Two great lakes now meet the eye where mere ponds were before. These are very deep and hence a beautiful blue. Fed by immense springs, they are always fresh and afford good fishing. In some places no bottom to the marl beds can be found, and the owners estimate that the supply will not be exhausted in 100 years. So pure and white is the product that chunks dropped from the freshly loaded cars look like chunks of lime; the cars are white-washed by it and the track all the way to Union City."

The article concludes: "And in that city are factories converting this gift of nature into material for builders to use, all because there were some Albion men with a vision and enough ambition and enthusiasm to make it practical."

Mining was discontinued in August, 1929. The Spring Arbor history states, (Pg. 64) "The closing came about because they were forced to burn so much coal to drive the water out of the marl that they could not compete with plants using lime rock."tab Unfortunately, our quoted newspaper article does not name the man who from Albion who discovered the marl.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of a large chunk of coal found by yours truly while scuba diving in Lime Lake. This coal would have been intended to power the steam-powered dredge that dug the lake. This coal chunk measures 12" by 10" and was found in about 20 feet of water on the far south end of the lake. How many of our readers have been to Lime Lake or have ridden on/walked the Falling Waters Trail that goes through it?

Chunk of coal from the bottom of Lime Lake

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - MAY 1918

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