and the stone quarry
and Black Lake
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook April 5, 2013
CAPTION #1: THE STONE QUARRY at Black Lake in 1904-05
CAPTION #2: A RAIL CAR loaded at the Stone Quarry. The house on the cliff was known to many of us as the "Haunted House."
Now that Lobdell and Bailey have purchased their sister company along with the Northern Michigan Railroad to Fowlerville, we find it hard to sort out the many areas of growth in Onaway.
We find that in 1903 the Detroit & Mackinac Railroad built a 900-foot spur into what would be the new Onaway Stone Company. A person with the title of Col. W.L. Churchill had built the first sugar beet factory in Michigan at Bay City in 1898. One of the steps in making beet sugar is the purification step.
Raw juice from the diffuser must have most of the remaining impurities removed so that the sugar can be crystallized. Lime and carbon dioxide are generated in a lime kiln by heating calcium carbonate stone. The juice is treated first with the lime and then by bubbling carbon dioxide up through the lime and juice mixture. The impurities tend to adhere to the particles of lime and the carbon dioxide acts to convert and precipitate the lime as insoluble calcium carbonate crystals. The lime particles are settled out in a clarifier while the purified juice is filtered to remove all remaining particles of lime. The settled lime is washed and then dried. The lime becomes an excellent soil amendment and is distributed for use in agriculture.
Now enter the Onaway Stone Quarry. On June 30, 1903 an article from the Outlook states: Onaway gets a plant for quarrying limestone for sugar beet factories. W.L. Churchill, president of the Bay City Sugar Company and also of the Tawas Sugar Company, has organized a company to quarry rock at Black Lake some seven miles from Onaway to supply stone for these two large industries. W.L. Churchill is president; H.D. Churchill is vice president, J. Morgan Clark, secretary, and E.J. Lobdell treasurer and manager.
We also know that J.M. Clark had lime kilns at this site and shipped many loads of lime out to be used in making cement, steel and for agriculture purposes.
The stone quarry employed many men and was a booming business until June of 1912 when the Calcite Plant in Rogers City shipped its first load of stone out by freighters. It was not long after this that the timber in the area was exhausted and passengers from Black Lake were using other means of traveling. The Northern Michigan Railroad was no longer needed.
We don't know the date but the rails and tie plates were taken up and reused like all other abandoned railroads.
The families that live on the cliffs at the quarry are no doubt happy that the Quarry was closed. They have the best view of Black Lake that can be found. Just ask our postmaster, Tim George, the next time you need a stamp.
-From The Onaway Outlook, April 5, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.