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Tourist Tuesday: Step back in time at Historic White Pine Village

Tourist Tuesday: Did you know that Mason Countyâ??s first court house and jail were built with wood found washed up on the beaches of Lake Michigan? And that courthouse is still standing in its original location.

Itâ??s part of Historic White Pine Village in Mason County.

Did you know that Mason Countyâ??s first courthouse and jail were built with wood found washed up on the beaches of Lake Michigan?

The courthouse is still standing in its original location.

Itâ??s part of Historic White Pine Village in Mason County.

It was the home of Burr Caswell, built in 1849 from wood he collected along the nearby Lake Michigan shoreline.

When it was decided a courthouse was needed, he moved his family upstairs and the first floor became the court and a trading post and, perhaps not coincidentally, Caswell was named the judge.

The countyâ??s first jail is actually the homeâ??s basement; when needed, they pulled the ladder up so any inmates couldnâ??t escape.

"Itâ??s really a step back in time to see what that hard scrabble life was like 100 years ago here in Mason County and throughout Michigan and throughout the Midwest," says Dr. Rick Plummer, Executive Director of the Mason County Historical Society, which runs the village.

White Pine Village is a chance to see, hear, even feel, how Mason County began and with a strong focus on the people that first settled the area â?? with re-enactors ready to tell their stories.

"What excites me most is the passion that our volunteers, all 150, close to 200 of our volunteers bring to this," says Plummer. "We have costumed docents in many of our buildings. The blacksmith shop is often times working at full tilt. The saw mill, when that big blade starts cutting and weâ??ve got people there in costume talking about what it was like in those lumbering days, itâ??s just a thrilling experience. So many of us have deep roots here in Mason County; our grandparents, our great-grandparents were immigrant farmers, immigrants to this area who came to work in the maritime industry and the lumber industry. So, itâ??s a way that we can honor our families and the traditions of our families and our past. If we donâ??t honor our past, we donâ??t have much of a future. So this entire village and our great mission of preserving, interpreting our past is so that we can, in fact, have a great future."

About 10,000 people come through historic white pine village every year, which is supported by those admission prices, donations, and membership to the mason county historical society.

The village is open Tuesday through Sunday until Labor Day and Tuesdays through Saturday through October.

Historic White Pine Village is also home to the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame, and Saturday, June 20 is the annual induction ceremony for new members into the hall.

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