The compilation of material for this history of Trout Creek was a most unique experience, both interesting and enlightening. In many instances it was very difficult to sort fact from fiction, so the writers ask your indulgence, and accept sole responsibility for any errors in judgment and omissions. Upon accepting the commission to write this history, the writers were determined that nothing would be recorded which would in any way mar the reputation of any individual or family. Therefore, this narrative contains no murders, robberies, stabbings, shootings, arson, scandal, illicit romances, dishonesty, deception, vandalism, blind pigs, bawdy houses, or back-fence gossip which were definitely a part of the town's colorful past.


Many former residents, after retiring from the busy city life, have chosen to return here to remodel farm homes or build new ones. Many of these homes are very attractive and several log homes have been erected.

Under the Home Rehabilitation Program in 1984, a number of homes in Trout Creek were refurbished by replacing doors, windows, sidings and foundations, painting exteriors, and installing heating systems.

The sewer project, which eliminated surface ditches, gave a trouble-free waste-water disposal.

Residents in the area are employed by the White Pine Copper Mine, the Celotex Plant in L'Anse, Stone Container and Wedtech in Ontonagon, Wood Development in Sidnaw, Maple Lumber Company, US Forest Service, County Road Commission, and the local school system as teachers and support staff. Residents are also employed in this area and the surrounding communities by working in restaurants, stores, motels, gas stations, and caring programs. Self-employment appeals to many and there are those in logging, construction involving carpentry and excavation, and dairy farming.

Fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, as well as wild game hunting are enjoyed in this area. Bond Lake provides camping, swimming, and boating facilities. Seasonal homes, many fine motels, and cabins provide housing for vacationers.

Although Trout Creek has changed during the past century, some things will always remain the same. People will come and go but there are still those loyal families who will keep Trout Creek alive.


The Civic Improvement Committee planned to make a history book for the Nation's Bicentennial in 1976. Some articles and letters were submitted then, in response to an appeal for an "I Remember When" section. The Pine Era was studied somewhat and written on; Mrs. Steven Carroll's Diary of 1890 and 1891 gave names and activities of people in the area at that time.

During the 1985-86 school year a local history class met weekly under the direction of Mrs. Hazel Sliger. Attending that class were Wesley Carlisle, Freeman and Vivian Carlisle, Gilda Russell, Alice Thompson, Arvid and Louisa Besonen, Joanne Cottenham and Ellen Tahtinen. Some old pictures were enlarged, old stories told, notes taken and some articles were written. Addresses of former; residents were gathered.

A class was formed in the fall of 1987 through the Porcupine Mountain Community Schools and under the direction of Mrs. Pat Franti. Its objective was to produce a history book to go on sale during the Trout Creek Centennial of 1988. Letters were mailed to former residents telling of planned events and various means of fund-raising were undertaken.

The history of Trout Creek is vast, requiring the efforts of many people, but a hundred years of the Township's existence is worth celebrating. Much information has been buried in the storms of the decades.


We, the Local History Class of Interior Township, dedicate this book to the entrepreneurs who, under commitment of free enterprise, answered the need for housing materials, forged ahead into the unknown to cut down the massive growth of pine. This involved strength, skill, and stamina on the part of the men who built the roads, cut the huge trees by cross-cut saw, and teamstered the meek horses that did the skidding and sledding. The men lived a rough life of self-denial (to earn the wages of a peon). They left a crop of pine stumps for the incoming new farmers, many of who claimed homesteads, gaining ownership by clearing the land. Others bought land from the loggers.

Immigrants had farmed the hard way in their native land. They sought one another's company for social life. Many of them had skills in agriculture, cattle raising, carpentry, blacksmithing, and community leadership. Their setback was a language barrier, which confined their talents to within their own sphere of companionship.

A salute is due the women folk of the early days, who could weave cloth, sew garments, bake bread, make sausage, clean house the hard way, knit the socks for the family, do the weekly wash by tub and washboard, starch and iron the clothes, warm the sauna, teach the kids to work, read, and memorize. The children had to learn all of these things too, besides carry the water, haul the wood, and find the cows, feed, and milk them.

A vote of thanks to teachers whose motivation was to instill a desire to further one's knowledge and to broaden horizons to the rest of the world. Our praise to those who stepped out of the crowd to promote cultural activities like musical groups, glee clubs, drama clubs, and athletic teams. Special recognition should be given to the churches that encourage good will amongst all people and teach ways to achieve and maintain them.

In Memory Of Emil (Ray) Knivila

Ray Knivila was an ardent pursuer of historical data, having a fine recollection of people from the early twenties on, especially where they lived and what they did for a living. He devoted time to making notes and tapes on them. One of his later activities in work was directing the construction of the shelter and footbridges at the Abbott Fox Community Park.

He attended the Book Committee meetings even when his health was failing. Ray passed away on March 22, 1988. The Centennial History Class sincerely appreciates the contribution Emil (Ray) made to this book.


In July 1975, Mr. Lee Hayward wrote to Ellen Tahtinen as follows: "I remember about the turn of the century, George Hardes of Traverse City, Michigan came to Trout Creek and built a lumber mill, shingle mill and a general store. They were operated under the name of Trout Creek Manufacturing Company which was owned by the Hardes family. Wages at that time were $1.75 per day and the work day was 10 hours a day 6 days a week. I came to the Agate area in 1891 with my parents, Frank and Cora Hayward, 2 sisters and 3 brothers."

Betsey Dreier has many fond memories of Trout Creek. She remembers the farewell dance for the boys who left for World War I in 1917 and when the war was over, the evening parade to all homes that had boys in the service. She remembers the first time she voted and how the young people took part in all the civic affairs. She remembers the first car owned by a Trout Creek citizen and the several big fires that destroyed many of the business places and Hardes' barn. The cry of those trapped horses could be heard across the town. Betsey recalls her days in school and how with the help of the parents and teachers, she and her classmates graduated in 1918. She was in Trout Creek from 1912-1936.

Helen (Hayward) Kalivoda's earliest memories of Trout Creek go back to the 1920's and early 30's. She was born in Trout Creek at Red Town in 1916, but moved to Ontonagon when she was two years old. Her Grandmother and Grandfather Howard lived about a mile north of town on the Gardner Road; her Aunt Maude and Uncle Oliver Cronkright lived next to them. From her Grandma's place, a path led through the field to Aunt Maude's. They had chickens, and unlike the chicken yard at her Grandfather Roehm's home in Ontonagon, their yard was called a chicken park because there were a lot of trees in it. The chickens would fly up into the trees and roost. The most interesting thing about her Aunt's place was the 'cooler house' out in the area beyond the chicken park. In that cellar-like place were the most delicious smells and tempting treats.

Memories from DeWitt, Michigan: Having hunted deer in the Trout Creek area before World War II, Bud Balderson could barely wait to get out of the service so that he could come to Trout Creek and build a tar paper shack, for hunting, on 20 acres south of town. It was so beautiful in the winter that he and his wife, Donna, came to see it in the summer. That started a love affair with the people, the fishing and hunting, the scenery and the peaceful feeling of being there. Since then, except for sickness, they have not missed summer fishing or hunting in the winter. They have the so-called modern conveniences where the beauty of nature is all around and to Bud and Donna, it will always be "God's Country".

Bertha (Besonen) Koszareks remembers her first years in school, not having learned the English language. She recalls life in a large family; giving up schooling to do housework for the Weidmans. Those were the days of washboard and tub, starching and fussy ironing. She remembers that after a busy day of scrubbing floors, there always was that special time—a Saturday night sauna.

Another memory that Bertha has is the sound of the mill whistle, which could be heard clearly and was used for setting the clocks on the farms. Weidman set up a "mill time", half way between Eastern and Central time, which was used by the community. However, the railroad used Central time only.

Memories by Sanford Ojala: In the late twenties when I was working for Hardes at the logging camp, George Pulkas and I loaded the platform on Hardes old Model T Ford truck with supplies for camp. We also hooked a horse wagon of lumber to it. We headed for the camp site south of Jumbo. Because of the heavy load, the radiator began to steam. George remembered seeing a pail alongside of Mannis Creek near the highway, so we stopped there to take water with the pail for the radiator. As George was leaving to cross the road, a car was coming from behind us. The driver blew the horn but George did not hear it, perhaps due to the noisy truck motor. The driver, a doctor from Ironwood, couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting George. The doctor's car rolled over off the roadway. He had to break a window to get out of the car; George lay unconscious on the road. I unhooked the lumber wagon from the truck; we lifted George onto the truck seat and we took him to Dr. Porter in Trout Creek. His office was upstairs of Hardes store, so we carried George up the long flight of stairs. Dr. Porter couldn't do anything for him, so we had to wait for the afternoon passenger train to take him to a hospital in Ishpeming. He was laid into the baggage car, still unconscious. He later died in the hospital.

In the 1920's using Hardes old Model T Ford truck, Truman Brady and I were hauling supplies to camp in the fall. This time we had four pigs on the platform with a top and sides. (The pigs were kept at camp for the winter to feed on all discarded foods. They'd be in great shape by spring.) Before leaving Trout Creek, a lumberjack, Elton Peterson, asked for a ride to camp. We said he could ride on top of the box of pigs. He said, "That's fine." While traveling east on M-28, another truck, Cameron's Chevy, which also had a platform, wanted to pass. I went as far as I dared on the narrow road but in passing the front corner of his truck platform caught the rear corner of ours and swung us crosswise on the road. I lost control and we hit the bank and went into the railroad guard fence with such force that the box of pigs hit the back of the cab, knocked it loose, and landed us on the bank. Luckily, the pigs didn't land on us. The pigs took off in all directions but we got them rounded up during the afternoon. Elton Peterson landed against the guard fence; his leg was broken. I don't recall how he got to the hospital in Ontonagon. In the court case that came up, he received full coverage for the hospital costs. This episode was the end of the Model T Ford truck.

Recollections by Arthur Stenson:"A Lie Lightened Mother's Feet"

There isn't a brief against the truth; this is a brief about Iying.

My brother told me that he had a man under him who was a lay minister and my brother once asked him if he always spoke the truth, even if it would cause more harm than if he lied. The man replied, "I'm a man of peace, I'd lie."

When I was in about the first grade in Trout Creek, the school board members came to inspect the school. This was then a company town. This meant that the town board, the school board, and the whole works were run the way the lumber company wanted it run. The school board members were dependent by the grace of the company.

There was a boy about my age who had store-bought clothes and was better dressed. The chairman pointed this boy out, about how well he behaved and how smart he was and all, which showed the exceptional training he received from his mother.

There was I. My mother had made all my clothes with the exception of my shoes and straw hat. The chairman spied me, the son of a "round head", an immigrant. He took a fine comb out of his pocket and said he was going to comb my hair for lice. I was to be degraded in front of the whole school. I started to cry at this indignity, so the teacher stayed him.

Mother always used to ask me how things had gone at school. I told my mother I had been cited as being one of the smartest boys in school and it was all due to the good up-bringing by my mother. There was my mother, a young immigrant with small kids, being cited for bringing up this paragon which was me.

I looked into mother's glistening eyes when she told Dad and the neighbors what had happened at school. Mother's feet got lighter at her work carrying water up the hill for cooking and washing on a scrub board in a tub. Dad worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. so mother had all the work to be done at home by her alone.

Did I do any harm? I had to knuckle down and really study to make it stick.

Mrs. Syma (Kaare) Poobus wishes to leave a memory verse:

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and
strong is its current;
No sooner is a thing brought to sight, then
it is swept by and another takes its place, and
This, too, will be swept away.

Marcus Aurelius


Where the long trail winds-
thru the whispering pines
And the birds in summmer go
Where the brook trout leap-in the ripples deep
And the cool sweet breezes blow
Where the Indian canoe-
shoots the rapids thru
In chase of the deer and bear
Where the partridge drums-as his shy mate comes
The North begins-Right There.

Where the creek and rill-their waters spill
As they rush to the silvery lake
Where the honking geese-with their young in peace
Midst the rice in the rustling brake
Where the bull moose call-in the early fall
Rings out on the frosty air
Where the wigwam's seen-neath the hemlock green
The North begins-Right There.

Where the summer's sun-melt the snows that run
Thru this earthly paradise
Where a man's a man-if he can stand
'Gainst the winter's snow and ice
Where the marts of trade-from the mind will fade
As you breathe the fresh pure air
And you tensely thrill-to the Master's will,
The North begins-Right There.

Dr. C. F. Whiteshield


From the woods they wrought their clearings,
Into which were sowed the seedlings;
Tender growth with careful hoeing
Brought to fruits the springtime sowing.
Summer meant the haying time swelter,
Compared in temp to steel-mill smelter.
Seeking cows was in the roster,
Learned the paths of hill and pasture;
Cows to be home at milking hour,
Or there would be no visiting car.
For any delay, they fussed and fumed;
You worked your share, or you were doomed.
Milking time was sort of fun;
Your song kept time to the milk pails strum.
Ma sang too; and could she sing!
She could make the rafters ring.
Long church songs she knew by heart;
Reciting them was quite an art.
Father said the meal-time prayer;
And read the Postila with care.
On Sunday mornings we were blest
Listening to the Bible text.
The church met much more seldom then;
But other doings, yet in that vein,
Took up our spare time in which we gained
Knowledge and know-how for days that came.
The times were hard, but people gave
To the work of the Lord, a world to save,
Knowing that God would always bless
The people that fear Him and his name confess.
We look back now from other climes
And praise the Lord for the good old times

Ellen Tahtinen 12/24/80

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Created by Lynn V. Boston. Last update 24-Feb-1997.