Northern Michigan in Focus: Fiborn Quarry
We’re about to take you on a trip back in time to talk limestone.
Corey Adkins went north of the bridge and shows you the Fiborn Quarry in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.
“This is just such a unique facility. Not only is it in a primitive area, but it has such a rich history in terms of prior life in the U.P.,” said William Houston, Michigan Karst Conservancy.
It used to be a place full of huge limestone crushers, steam shovels, locomotives and very hard work folks. The quarry started in 1905.
“At the peak there is about 72 people here. They had a school, they had a small church and they also had living quarters. Behind me was a locomotive shed and over to my right, it’s the crusher,” explained William.
In one building they’d crush the limestone. Dump it in a train car over and over until they’d take it by rail to be shipped down to the steel mills. But the Fiborn Quarry had some things working against it, one of them was its location.
“They found it cheaper to mine the limestone over by Rogers City at the LaFarge Plant in Alpena and then ship it by boat,” said William.
In 1936, Fiborn closed its doors. Since then, time has taken over and created a pretty cool ghost town. The Michigan Karst Conservancy bought the property in 1987.
“Just enjoying the history and actually touching and seeing the buildings, it’s worth the time and the drive and the effort,” explained William.
The quarry grounds look like the surface of the moon, and even though a lot of the limestone was mined right to the bedrock, nature always finds a way!
“What amazes me is the birch trees and the various types of cedars and other plants are beginning to move in. Imagine how a plant can secrete enzymes and actually borough its way through the limestone and find water and actually produce flowers and then seeds,” said William.
They have applied to get the Fiborn Quarry on the National Registry of Historic Places. If you want to learn more, this Saturday is a great opportunity to do so.
“On the 17th we’re going to be having our event, which we are calling Friends and Neighbors, where we invite the surrounding individuals from townships and also people that have helped us on the history etc.,” explained William. “My overall feeling about preserving things is that when individuals experience at preserve and a quarry like this they will appreciate it. And when they appreciate it they’re going to help us take care of it, and that’s our goal.”