ROLLWAYS SUMMER HOME GROUP - H4, HURON NATIONAL FOREST - HALE, MICHIGAN
In the late 1800s, the state of Michigan was cleared out of the towering, magnificent trees that covered its lands for lumber. The “Rollways” referred to a particularly important aspect of the logging near the Au Sable River. Banked by steep hills on either side in many areas of the 138-mile stretch, the river was a valuable tool in allowing recently logged trees to be rolled down the banks and into the water, floating them onwards to Lake Huron to be gathered or shipped to further destinations.
Decades later in 1933, as a part of the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps was formed to provide jobs to unemployed and unwed men from the ages of 18 to 25. These men were assigned the task of restoring federal land throughout the country, including the area now known as the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This forest included “The Rollways” area and much of the Au Sable River. The CCC built bridges, formed campgrounds and re-planted the forests that had been wiped out by the logging boom. More trees were planted in Michigan during the operating time of the CCC—nearly 485 million—than in any other state.
Today, sprinkled throughout the Huron-Manistee National Forest are the Summer Home Groups, which were originally built for and by the CCC to house workers or to function as summer vacation homes operated by the Federal government. They now are privately owned cabins in clusters of “Home Groups.”
This particular group, H4, has around 12 cabins of varying amenities. The structures are in a loop on the south side of the Au Sable River and nestled amongst the trees planted by the CCC in “The Rollways” area of the forest. All cabins can only be used for six months out of the year—none of them are permanent residences. While the cabins are privately owned, the land they are on is still the National Forest and is therefore leased out by the Federal government to each cabin owner in 10 year increments.
The structures and the forest itself stand as legacy and testament to the men of the CCC.