There’s nothing that holds my attention like a good mystery, and for quite some time, the forgotten remains of isolated Camp Lucy Mac in Ludington State Park, Michigan, have been just that. If you’ve not yet read this article, please follow the link below for the full tour of Camp Lucy Mac as she looks today:
But where there’s a will, there’s usually a way, and about a week ago, I finally got ahold of the newspaper articles that would provide me with the information–and even a few of the photos–I’ve been looking for. Through these articles, I’ve been able to discover some information that was previously unknown and confirm a few of the rumors I’ve heard.
Here in chronological order are some of the more interesting articles, courtesy of the Ludington Daily News, pertaining to Camp Lucy Mac.
Camp Lucy Mac Bonus: The Lodge, The Rec Building, or Something Like It…
Since my first article on Camp Lucy Mac, I have struggled to clearly define which building at the camp was the lodge and which one was the recreation hall, opting simply to call the buildings Bldg 1 and Bldg 2 as I could not say with certainty which one was which. Not necessarily assisting me in my quest to delineate between these two buildings are the newspaper articles that seem to confuse each building with each other for different reasons. Before I go into detail on the reasoning behind this debate and for your reference, here’s a copy of the map from my previous article.
So, here we go: why I was so darn confused about the buildings of Camp Lucy Mac!
Case 1: Bldg 1 is the Lodge, Bldg 2 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.
Evidence for Case 1: The June 22, 1944 article clearly describes the lodge as being at the end of a lagoon with a “great view of the lake”. This readily describes Bldg 1 and not Bldg 2, which does not border any water. Notably, this section of the article doesn’t mention a recreational building at all.
Less on the scientific and more on the intuition side of things, Bldg 1 struck me initially as the lodge, not Bldg 2, which was less scenic and seemed more like a general purpose building. But hey, they’re foundations. What do I know.
Case 2: Bldg 1 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall, Bldg 2 is the Lodge.
Evidence for Case 2: Just when you think you have everything all figured out, a newspaper article gums up the works! A July 16, 1942 article, which includes a photo of what (structurally speaking) almost has to be Bldg 1, specifically refers to this structure as the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.
Per the photograph in the article, the building is in an L-shape; the only L-shaped foundations found at Lucy Mac were those of Bldg 1. This clearly does not describe Bldg 2. The building was described as having a kitchen and a stone fireplace, which have both survived in varying degrees to this day as the fireplace is still visible and the tile in the end of Bldg 1 appear to be from a kitchen. Structurally speaking, Bldg 2 has nothing to suggest that it ever contained a kitchen or a stone fireplace…or at least, it has nothing remaining!
Case 3: Bldg 1 is all of the above and Bldg 2 is something completely different.
Y’know, sometimes it just happens: buildings undergo structural and/or functional changes, and are known by various names at different times, sometimes going by two names interchangeably. I believe this is almost certainly the case in this little saga as in one instance, the June 22, 1944 article actually refers to the recreation hall and the dining hall / kitchen / stone fireplace as being the same building: “The rustic recreation building served as a dining hall and kitchen and the stone fireplace was used for campfire when rain prevented the use of outdoor campfire”. Interestingly, this section of the article doesn’t even mention a lodge.
As a teasing additional tidbit, a June 21, 1941 article describes a dedication ceremony that took place in the “main lodge”, suggesting that there may have actually been two buildings that served as lodges at one point in time.
Now, while the information presented in Case #3 doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibilities of either Case #1 or Case #2 being correct, it does seem to confirm that the same building is being described in two separate parts of the same article and is apparently known by two names. This is the most likely answer and (for the moment) the best conclusion I can offer to my lingering constructional conundrum at Camp Lucy Mac.
Hello again, happy readers! Today, I take you to the barrier islands of Virginia: specifically, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Preserve on Assateague Island.
Whilst walking down the beach on an idyllic vacation in this mosquito-ridden paradise, I glimpsed from a distance a couple of abandoned buildings one fine summer’s eve. Repelled by mosquitoes who feared neither the threat of slapping hands nor the stench of Deep Woods Off!, I vowed to return one day, armed with a map that showed me the objects of a future photographic mission: the Assateague Coast Guard Station. It wasn’t until a year or so later when I returned during the winter–and not coincidentally, mosquito-free months–to photograph the lost and lonely of this stunning island.
These photos were taken in the early winter months of of 2012, so keep in mind that these photos are not current.
PLEASE NOTE that these photos are of the Assateague Island CG Station and Boathouse only. Unfortunately, the Lifesaving Station, which was located near the head of the Woodland Trail, is no longer in existence.
Behold, the object of my inquiry! Looking at the above map toward the southern border of the island, you’ll note the Old Coast Guard Station, denoted on the southern-most edge of Tom’s Hook. While the fish factory ruins are also present along that shoreline, we did not identify those ruins and were only successful in finding the old CG station.
And now, for the meat and potatoes of why you probably read this blog. The photos!
Now, before you go assuming the worst of your gracious host, it was at this point that I began to wonder if this building was in fact a fish factory as the map would’ve had me believe. Given the fact that a boardwalk ran from the confirmed Coast Guard Station out to the mysterious building and the fact that the fish factory seemingly had no business on the water, I had already started to suspect that this building was part of the Coast Guard station and not in fact a former fish factory.
Immediately following the section of the adventure, we followed the boardwalk back to land and found ourselves staring at this remarkable piece of history that stands very nearly alone on an all but abandoned spit of land: the Assateague Island Coast Guard Station.
For today’s adventure, I’ve chosen to post and write about a past trip out to Perryville Battlefield, upon which I discovered the abandoned remains of Sleettown, KY, which were purchased by the state and are now protected property. Please note that these photos were taken in February 2013 and are not current photos.
Aside from preserving an impressive and expansive battlefield that was the site of the very conflict that kept Kentucky under Union control and sent the Confederates retreating toward Tennessee never to return, this state historic site also preserves a rarity for the Civil War era: a town borne out of the freedom granted to slaves after the Civil War and populated entirely by free blacks. Step back with me to 1865 America in the post-Civil War south, won’t you?
Ready for the background story yet?
Sleettown was originally settled by the descendants of Warner and Olivia Sleet, who were slaves in Boyle County (KY) during the Civil War. In 1865, their sons, Henry, Preston, and George Sleet, bought the battlefield property from land owner Henry Bottom, who had endured the destruction of the Battle of Perryville and desperately needed the money (this purchase was not recorded until 1880). The Sleets began to purchase other parcels of land around their original purchase, and soon, along with the Pattersons, Swanns, and other families, Sleettown was born.
Sleettown reportedly had a general store, a restaurant, a cemetery, a church, a one-room schoolhouse, a taxi service, and several homes at its peak, but this is not what made Sleettown notable. Keep in mind that in post-Civil War America, racial segregation was the law of the land–and one that many people saw as too lenient at that. Yet according to the signs in the state park, the newly-freed black residents of Sleettown lived, worked, and spent their evenings with their neighbors, the white residents of nearby Perryville. The spirit of community and equality was so unique, I will quote directly from an interpretive sign that stands near the remains pictured above:
In the early 20th century, when most of Kentucky was racially segregated, the relationship with neighboring whites was open and friendly. A sincere spirit of fellowship existed, where neighbors worked side by side on the farm and in their homes. Often, blacks and whites would come together in the evenings to visit or play a game of cards, and their children played together.
It is incredible and inspiring to this writer that in an era that was defined by race and separation, these communities managed to overcome their cultural and racial differences and lived an example of equality. As the Sleettown families raised their children and those children left home to make their ways in the world, the population of Sleettown steadily declined until in 1931, the last resident of this remarkable community abandoned the settlement as the Great Depression settled in. Many of the descendants of Sleettown’s founders and residents now reside in nearby Perryville.
Off 31W just outside of the understated yet impressively historic town of West Point, KY, is an old building that is falling quietly into ruin. It’s clearly a survivor from another era, a run-down little structure that has the look of an old business. Angled to face the Dixie Highway, it’d be a natural office for an auto salesman. It was on another cloudy winter day that I found a bit of time for a look around.
From the front, the roof–peeling shingles and all–just out over the first story entrance. A sign resting against the front window betrays the identity of this former store.
The sign gives “21502 Dixie Highway, West Point, KY” as the address, listing phone and fax numbers for a car dealership.
A peek inside the front window (to the right as you face the building) betrays a disheveled office and some mysterious murals that are being stored inside the structure.
Looking inside the window to the left betrays the remnants of a staircase, now with a ladder to serve as the steps, and more murals.
Moving to the left, the building starts to show its worst areas of decay. A hole in the side of the building and a badly deteriorated ad along with falling shingles betray nature’s wear and tear with time and human neglect.
The back of the building shows a base of cinder blocks and brick. Covered with plywood and open in other spots, I begin to wonder if the upstairs served as a personal residence while the downstairs was the store/shop.
A small, unlocked cinder block room enters the base of the structure at the back. Not much to see here.
Looking straight up, this shot shows the various materials used in construction. The obvious cinder block division to the right of the photo begs the question: was this building built in pieces or added on to at a later time? It would certainly seem that way based on the pattern in the blocks.
Debris scattered at the base of the back wall. The remnants of a full set of china and what might be a table further begs the question: what was the building’s upstairs used for?
Looking across the back of the building from the building’s right (as you’re facing the front). A steep embankment guards the access from the left side of the building.
Facing the building and looking to the right. Heavy overgrowth stands guard on this side of the structure.
One final view from the front.
This is yet another structure whose history is largely unknown. A google search brought up the following links to businesses at this address:
None of the searches brought up any information on the auto mart other than the fact that it was operated from the same address. None of the searches turned up dates for either businesses, either. Is it possible that the auto mart was the first business here, and when it went out, the owner (John Montgomery) turned to construction and ran a contractor business out of his old auto shop? That would seem the most likely answer, especially as the building had no information/visible signage about the construction business.