©2004 UpNorth Publications Inc.
Elk Rapids Village Employee Tim McKenzie and historical society president Glenn Neumann look over a 1923 Antrim County map, discovered twice by McKenzie. The color map is currently on display at the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society Museum.
Second time around
Vintage county map discovered again, during recent move
BY DAVE LEIN, Town Meeting Editor
The only thing better than discovering an old treasure, is finding it all over again.
Over 15 years ago, village department of public works employee Tim McKenzie was removing trash from the library when he came across something that caught his eye.
"There were a couple of old maps kind of bundled together," McKenzie said. "The color on the one caught my eye."
What McKenzie discovered was a "fairly-recent" black and white map of Charlevoix County, along with a larger map of Antrim County.
"The Antrim County map was the one that really opened my eyes," he said. "It was big, full of color, and it looked pretty old. My jaw dropped when I saw all the detail."
After further examination, McKenzie realized that his find was a Land Economic Survey Map from the Department of Conservation. Published around 1924-25, the document includes a wealth of information collected in 1923.
"It shows everything schools, fire towers, uplands, lowlands, open wild land, bogs, marshes, occupied homes, resort homes, hotels, farms, soil types, tree types you name it, it's on there."
In addition, the map includes infrastructure data like paved roads, roads with telephone service and/or telegraph service, first-class dirt roads and second-class dirt roads.
When asked the difference between first and second-class dirt roads, McKenzie laughed and said maybe the first-class were about to be paved, while the second class were awaiting improvements.
The back side provides additional detailed information on land use, parcel cost by township, along with crop-yield data
After finding the maps in the mid-to-late 80s, McKenzie passed them on to then village manager Steve Stilwell.
"I wasn't sure what to do with them, especially the Antrim County one, because the museum wasn't really set up back then," he said.
Once the maps were given to the village, they were pretty much forgotten.
Flash forward to 2004. As McKenzie and his fellow DPW workers were assisting with the village's move from the old office downtown to its new location on Bridge Street, the map was discovered once again.
"I don't know if it was stuffed in a drawer or between file cabinets, or wherever but there it was again. This time I knew what to do with it."
McKenzie marched it down the street to Glenn Neumann at the Elk Rapids Area Historical Museum.
"I knew Glenn would take good care of it, and that it would be in safe hands with the historical society."
Neumann was impressed.
"It really is quite a unique map," Neumann said, "especially with all the detail, plus it's in pretty good shape.
"We plan to have black and white copies made of the front and back, and then try and find out more about it," he added. "It makes you wonder if these were done for every county in Michigan. It sure would have taken a lot of resources, and a fair amount of money back then."
McKenzie is just happy the map isn't lost for good.
"Sure the information is interesting, but it's pretty cool to know that this map was also important to someone else," he said while pointing to the relic's margin.
Written there, in light pencil, are the scrawled words "Take up north for cabin."
A map like that would probably come in handy, especially if your unoccupied resort home was located on a second-class dirt road.