Saturday, May 14, while some were racing in the rain to cross the finish line at the Riverbank Run, others were involved in a different kind of race right here in Rockford—the race to save our beautiful native Michigan spring flowers from being overrun by invasive plants like garlic mustard and Dame’s rocket. About 20 volunteers joined forces on the White Pine Trail between Belmont and 12 Mile Road to pull 28 large blue bags of garlic mustard. The bags will be registered with the Stewardship Network, which hosts a statewide competition each spring to see who can pull the most. So far this spring, over 21,422 pounds of garlic mustard have been registered with the Stewardship Network. That’s over 10 tons! So, what is garlic mustard and why is it so bad? Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that was brought over to the United States by European settlers as an herb. Unfortunately, with none of its native competitors present, garlic mustard has spread virtually unchecked across the country and can be found in over 30 states as well as parts of Canada. Not only do these invasive weeds choke out native wildflowers by out-competing them for space and sunlight, but they also excrete chemicals through their roots, which prevent the growth of our native wildflowers and other plants, including trees. Without a diet of native plants to eat, our wildlife suffers too. The struggle will continue until the plants go to seed. So if you see someone stuffing plants into a bag, stop and thank them or, better yet, join in! For more information about garlic mustard and other invasive species, visit the Stewardship Network website at www.stewardshipnetwork.org or e-mail Mindy Miner at email@example.com.
White Pine Trail
For the past several years, Comcast has gotten together 100-plus employees to clean up and do work on the White Pine Trail. They donated an amazing trailer full of tools, snacks, drinks—anything future trail volunteers would need to help maintain the trail. BC Pizza provided pizza to the hungry volunteers.
Power outage, general confusion follows by BETH ALTENA A man walking the White Pine Trail narrowly escaped with his life after a swan flew into a live power line, resulting in an explosion and the arcing, live wire shooting sparks and fire on the popular trail. The incident left the downtown without power for about an hour and left the city buzzing with speculation and rumor. The collision of the mute swan with the overhead wire and the live electrical wire in windy conditions created a safety hazard quickly handled by members of the Rockford Police Volunteer Services Unit, the Rockford Fire Department, and eventually by Consumers Energy, who fixed the line. The swan suffered fatal injuries on impact and its body was flung by the explosion to the steps of the Rogue River Tavern, where patron Ed Ross found it. Ross said he went outside after electricity to the Tavern and much of downtown went out after the incident Thursday, March 17 just before 1 p.m. The trail was closed off for about an hour when Consumers Energy fixed the line. According to Andrea DeWard of Studio D2D, who was taking out the trash when the accident happened, “There was a giant flash and an explosion.” She said she felt sorry for the people who were nearby on the trail and she saw the man directly under the wire jump about 10 feet in the air. DeWard said she initially thought a car had exploded. “It scared me,” she said. She also noted that the explosion left a strong smell in the air. Danea, 20, was doing homework for her Grand Rapids Community College courses when the power went out in Epic coffee shop. She looked up and saw the white body of the swan fly through the air and land behind the cars parked at the Tavern. “I looked up and saw this white thing falling from the sky,” she said. “I didn’t expect to see that. You never know what a day is going to be like.” Fans of the pair of swans who live in the upper pond of the Rogue River dam will be reassured that those swans were alive and well following the incident. It is speculated that the […]
The history of the Village of Childsdale, continued by BETH ALTENA Henry B. Childs ran his paper mill with great success for a time. The well-known resident of the county had a penchant for purchasing property and soon owned most if not all of Childsdale, historic accounts tell. Fire destroyed the first mill on July 28, 1868. It was rebuilt and in 1889 Henry deeded half the mill to his youngest son, Horace. Horace had a vision for the plant and introduced new machinery when he became partner. On August 22, 1898 the mill was again destroyed by fire and rebuilt. Old newspaper accounts describe activity of the mill. “May to September the hillside north of the mill is covered with large squares of paperboard with boys running, turning them and loading them back into the plant. If you happen along when a storm is approaching you will see the greatest activity among field hands. The boards are gathered up and carried under shelter. As soon as the sun has had time to dry the grass the boards are carried out and spread in the sun once more.” Part of the success of the company over the years was the result of innovation. The original mill made paper which was shipped to Chicago’s slaughter houses and used to wrap meat. The paper was hauled to Grand Rapids by oxen and shipped from there by train to Chicago. In 1867 the railroad from Grand Rapids to Rockford was built. Later paper prices fell and the mill began to make paperboard, mostly for folding packaging. A claim to fame was the invention of a superior form of cardboard used for egg cartons. The mill workers used a process of combining a layer of straw paper with wood pulp and sulphite. It was far superior to the process of making crates other mills used. When the cartons were ready to hold the eggs, a 200-pound man could not crush them. Another secret to success may have been the way the Childs family paid their employees. They didn’t. Employees could live in the two-dozen homes of the Childsdale village and shop at the company store. For pay they were given scripts with which they could pay rent or purchase […]
by Cliff and Nancy Hill From his second floor office in the Natureview Properties Building, Tom Mall enjoys looking down on the bronze Abraham Lincoln statue that he was instrumental in bringing to Rockford. Mall particularly enjoys the reactions of those who discover the statue for the very first time. Ideally sited on a spur of the White Pine Trail that leads to a boardwalk along the Rogue River, the life-size and lifelike Lincoln statue is discovered and enjoyed by people on a daily basis. Lincoln is seated on a bench that invites passerby to sit and engage Lincoln in what Mall says appears to be, “ A silent conversation, perhaps in thanks, to one of our greatest Presidents.” People interact with the statue in many ways. Photo opportunities are common throughout the day. Some stand in awe of the exacting detail of the statue. Others reach out and touch Lincoln’s hand or face. Still others simply wonder what is on Lincoln’s mind as he sits with his right arm on a stack of books, and in his other hand perhaps a draft of the Gettysburg Address. Mall tells us that his very favorite sighting, one day, was that of a young woman who stood before the statue for some time and then bent over and kissed Lincoln on the forehead and then walked away. A chance photo taken soon after the statue was installed is one of Mall’s favorites. The photo is that of the children of three out-of-town families from Grand Rapids, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Surrounding Lincoln on that day were eleven young children, two were black, one of which was seated in his lap. This being 147 years after Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, a just over two-minute speech regarded as one of the greatest in American history, adds poignancy to the photo. The City of Rockford has recently placed additional benches trailside adjacent to the statue that invite visitors to sit and, perhaps, contemplate where we have come as a nation since the Civil War. If you’ve not already discovered Rockford’s Abraham Lincoln statue for yourself, now is the time! We already know of many Rockford area schoolteachers who are thinking of using it in their itineraries for class field […]