416. Out Of The Forest


It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of rivers, large lakes and railroads in the development of commerce and the location of towns in the early beginnings and growth of much of our country. It was especially important in Mason County because much of the landscape was covered by timber just waiting to be harvested.

The Manistee Railroad with its southern end connecting with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad at Walhalla (now on US10), extended northwest to Manistee and opened on December 5, 1881. That short-line railroad spurred the settlement of the Village of Fountain which was platted in 1883. Two years later the first sawmill was built.

In the last quarter of the 19th Century, people were place-bound with very limited mobility yet the flip-side of this dynamic was the importance of proximity in the development of businesses that were primed to capture the local market. In 1882 the Foster brothers built a large store at the corner of Foster and Main Streets and just a block away from the tracks. That same year, a post office was established in the Village. Within the last decade of that century, a Methodist Church and a school were constructed, and several additional stores were added to this growing community.

This sculpture pays tribute to the important lumbering history of Fountain and Sherman township portrayed by a team of horses pulling a big log out of the forest. Each Memorial Day weekend, this community features a horse pulling contest that has continued for over 50 years.