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Centuries-old log from Michigan's lumbering era found floating in Pentwater Lake

The log found floating in Pentwater Lake in June includes 190 growth rings and two different brand marks.

PENTWATER, Mich. — All year, high water has been stealing away shoreline around West Michigan. Now, the record water levels may be a factor leading to the discovery of a centuries-old log floating in Oceana County's Pentwater Lake.

Members of the Pentwater Lake Association Joe Primozich and Tom Walters found the 20-foot long section of Hemlock in Calico Bay while retrieving debris from the lake following heavy rain on June 3. The Pentwater residents say it's something they often do to keep boaters from hitting items that break free from the shore including sections of docks.

Primozich says the storm that preceded the discovery included 3 to 5 inches of rain. First it was a small log floating into the lake from Pentwater River that caught his attention. Once on the water with Walters he noticed a much larger log.

"The biggest one we've ever pulled," said Primozich. 

"I didn't realize what it was at that time," added Walters.

The two men tied a rope to the log and towed it back to a Pentwater Lake boat ramp. There they discovered brand marks used by logging companies to identify logs during Michigan's lumber era.

Through research Walters was able to determine the "Z" brand was registered to Henry B. Aulds in 1878. A "2" indicates the Traverse City Logging Company also played a role in either cutting or moving the log.

Walters and Primozich believe both companies were likely working for Pentwater lumber baron Charles Mears.

They estimate the tree was likely felled around the late 1800s and may have started growing in Oceana County between 1680 and 1690.

In the late 1800's it was common for logs to be marked and floated downriver to communities like Pentwater that had sawmills.

This log may have been stuck underwater in the Pentwater River and dislodged due to the rush of water from the June storm. High-water conditions on the Pentwater River and Pentwater Lake may have also allowed the log to break free from where it was stuck for more than a century.

Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy informed the men that because the log was on the surface of the lake and not at the lake's bottom, it belonged to the person who removed it from the lake.

For now the log is drying out in the sun. The two men plan on donating it to the Pentwater Historical Society Museum later this year so it can be displayed for others to enjoy. 

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