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Manistee River Logging

by Ray Schmidt
05/05/07 ┬ęSchmidt Outfitters

The end of the log is pictured with the company's brand.

The boxes were crafted from a log harvested from the Manistee River in the fall of 1998. The log was cut from a virgin White Pine forest near the little town of Buckley around 1880 and floated down the river to be sawed into lumber.

The log was sawed from a virgin white pine tree that was estimated to be about 200 years old at the time it was cut. The log never made it to its destination. This log and thousands of others created giant log jams on their way to the mill. River drivers would attempt to break up these log jams using a variety of methods, most of them successful.

This log remained trapped by the river until 1998 when descendants of a historic lumbering family who have exclusive rights to the logs began mining these logs one at a time. This log was recovered by hand using a block and tackle, and a wooden river barge to bring it to Blacksmith Bayou Landing on the Manistee River.

The end of this log was stamped with an owner brand and camp number. This was the method used to determine ownership. We have reproduced the owner's brand stamp in the form of a logo burned into the top of the fly box as a reminder of its history. The log was sawed into planks November 9, 2021 and taken to a kiln in Interlochen, Michigan very near the site the tree was harvested originally over a century ago.

Being a long time fishing guide and conservationist, I purchased this log and had it milled and kiln dried for the sole purpose of having 250 commemorative fly boxes made. A portion of the money raised from the sale of these boxes was donated back to the river for river habitat and restoration projects.

By the way, the word Manistee is a Native American word that means "spirit of the woods." The fly boxes truly embody the meaning of the Manistee.