Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grass Lake-Jackson, MI

I'm quite behind again in blogging. Although I am currently in Niagara Falls, NY, I'm just now blogging about my time in the Jackson, MI, area, several weeks ago. But here goes....

I met up with the WINs at Grass Lake, a small community east of Jackson. There were about 20 of us, staying in a field owned by another WIN, Nancy. Although Nancy couldn't join us because she is basking in the Florida sun, she graciously allowed us to park at her place. Thank you Nancy. Here are a few of the things we did while there.

We visited Michigan's first state prison, in operation from 1838-1934. It was a guided tour and the tour guide was very good, giving us lots of detail and information. When the prison was first started the idea was to have the prison be self-sustaining. So it was the prisoner's themselves who built this first cell block (above), which was completed in 1841. The room is now a gym, stage and conference area.

The was put into use as an armory for many years before being abandoned. It has now been resurrected as Armory Arts Village. They old prison has been turned into apartments and art galleries.

A picture of the original cell block and how it looked before the cells were torn down.

Additional cell blocks were added in later years. Looking down the hallway, the bars on the windows are original. These cells are now art galleries for the residents.

How the prison looked back in the 1800s. As a self-sustaining prison, the prisoners had to farm to produce their own food, milk, dairy and meat. Many were on chain gangs which worked in the nearby factories. On the prison site itself were many buisinesses established for the inmates, such as a blacksmith shop, leather shop, pottery shop and even a tailor shop. The inmates provided services not only for other inmates, but local townspeople paid for their services as well. Personally this sounds like a grand idea, I wonder why we don't continue to do more of this today instead of the prisons bleeding our government of funds for support.

In a solitary cell block underneath the ground. They did have some barbaric practices, one of which was months and even years in solitary. This practice was stopped in the 1880s (I think that's the dates) after it was discovered a number of prisoners had gone blind from being kept in the dark.

In one of the art galleries we visited I saw this motto painted on the wall. I liked it enough to want to post it. It kind of washed out, but it reads, "If you want something bad enough, you will work for it."

In our tour guides apartment. It is a 2 level apartment with an upstairs open bedroom and bath, and a downstairs living room, and study as well as kitchen. Originally it was 36 cell blocks.

Across the street from the cell block, this building once housed the blacksmith shop and other industries for the inmates.

We were in Grass Lake over the 4th of July and some of the group attended the parade. Unfortunately the parade was at the same time as our prison tour, but here are some pictures that Max took.

I guess there were lots of tractors. Lots and lots of tractors.

Instead of the little cars this parade had small airplanes.

And big tractors too.

Jackson county's claim to fame.

The nearby Jiffy plant not only put a truck in the parade, but had people handing out Jiffy mixes to the crowd.

After the parade and the prison tour, some of us joined up for the Grass Lake BBQ in the park. They had a great turnout for the cardboard boat races. These are the 15 and younger crowd.

Some of us enjoyed the BBQ chicken at the town picnic.

Many of the smaller towns in the area had fireworks exhibitions. Part of our group went into Jackson to Falls Park, while some of us went down the road to Manchester.

They had a beer tent. For $5 you had the priviledge of purchasing a beer and listening to a live band while waiting for the fireworks. The band paused during the fireworks but started up again after.

This was the first time I have seen beer being sold in a quart jug.

The fireworks were very good and lasted around 45 minutes.

Some of us decided to take a bike ride on the Falling Waters Trail. Along the trail we passed a couple of old lime lakes, where Marl, an earthy deposit containing clay and calcium carbonate, was dug and shipped off for use in cement and fertilizer. At times we also saw the Springbrook River and Sandstone Creek, which all flow down into the Grand River. There were also several other creeks or rivers in the area, including the Kalamazoo River, which all fell into the Grand River, thus the Indians called the area Falling Waters.

The trail was about 9.5 miles one way and we stopped for lunch before heading back.

I caught this picture of a swan, but never saw the babies of which we were told to look for.

On the way back I spotted a sign which talked about a historic village just a 1/4 mile down the road. So we made a short detour to find Spring Arbor Village. Now just a park, the small area has quite a history. Settled in the early 1830s, by 1835 Albion College had been established and in 1844 became Hillsdale College. At one time this village contained a storekeeper, tailor, blacksmith and shoemaker.

After the bike ride we all stopped at The Parlour for ice cream.

1 comment:

Gypsy Boho said...

Enjoyed your blog.