Germfask is a small unincorporated community in Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula. The area is known for its natural beauty, particularly the nearby Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Germfask was founded in the late 19th century and was named after the eight original settlers of 1881. Using the first initial of each’s surname: John Grant, Matthew Edge, George Robinson, Thaddeus Mead, Dr. W. W. French, Ezekiel Ackley, Oscar (O.D.) Sheppard, and Hezekiah Knaggs.
The community was a station for the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad and is situated in the middle of a large tract of land known as the Hiawatha National Forest. It used to be called “The Dump” because the timber people would dump their logs into the river in Germfask to float down to the mill.
Civilian Conservation Corps
In the 1930s Camp Germfask was built by Civilian Conservation Corps laborers. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The camp operated from 1933-1942 providing work for unemployed, unmarried men. The men stay at the camp but were working on projects at nearby Seney wildlife refuge. The men left in 1941 to serve their country after the United States entered World War II.
The Army uses the camp
The camp was first used for German POWs and then to house 80 conscientious objectors (COs). They were to continue providing the labor that the CCC did to Seney Wildlife Staff.
The German POWs were hard workers and not disruptive, the COs were troublemakers and most of the time refused to work. They made it miserable for the Seney staff, they were expecting everything to run smooth as it did with the German POWs. The COs would find ways to take hours to do simple tasks. They would do whatever they could to cause problems and would threaten supervisors, destroy property, and hurt those who would try to work.
After the war
The camp commander taking two years to draft a report about what happened at the camp. They were glad it was over and pointed out that if they had continued to use the German POWs or people that actually wanted to work, they would have saved a lot of money.
Camp Germfask is now the Big Cedar Campground. Most of the buildings were removed and some were moved to Manistique where the VFW is using them.
Today, Germfask is a small, rural community with a population of just a few hundred people. It is known for its peaceful, natural surroundings and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, and camping.