Nestled in the picturesque town of Manistique in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there stands a silent witness to history – Lime Kilns. These unassuming structures have more tales to tell than meet the eye.

Lime Kilns in Manistique have a rich history that is often overlooked. One of the most intriguing aspects is the story of George Nicholson, a shrewd businessman who built a six kiln lime plant in Manistique, which later became the Manistique Lime and Stone Co. The process of turning dolomite limestone into quicklime involved intense labor, with workers using dynamite to break up the limestone formations and then loading the cars by hand.

The firm faced financial difficulties in the 1920s due to increased labor costs but was reorganized as the Manistique Lime and Stone Co. In 1928, the Inland Lime and Stone Company acquired the land surrounding the Calspar quarry and built a large plant. The lime was drawn from the bottom of the kiln at four-hour intervals by men using steel hooks. The product was then marketed either in its raw slate form or as white powder. This unique history and the labor-intensive process shed light on a lesser-known aspect of the lime industry in Manistique.

Lime Kiln Saga

In the late 19th century, as the timber industry thrived, lime became a crucial commodity for construction and agriculture. The Lime Kilns of Manistique played a pivotal role in transforming limestone into lime. They left an indelible mark on the town’s landscape. Beyond the conventional facts, let us explore the lesser-known details that add depth to the lime kiln saga.

Digging into historical archives reveals the resilience of the lime industry during economic downturns. Manistique’s lime kilns weathered the storms of time, standing tall as silent witnesses to the town’s economic highs and lows. The lime produced here was not merely a construction material; it was a cornerstone of the community’s livelihood.

Spirits of the Kilns

As the sun sets over Lake Michigan, locals often recount sightings that defy explanation. Whispers of ghostly apparitions wandering near the lime kilns have circulated for generations. Some claim to have heard echoes of long-forgotten conversations. Others insist on glimpses of shadowy figures dancing in the moonlight. These spectral tales add a mysterious charm to the lime kilns. They invite us to contemplate the connection between history and the supernatural.

Imagine the faces of the workers who toiled in the kilns, their laughter echoing through time. Think of the families whose lives were intertwined with the rise and fall of Manistique’s lime industry. It is the human element that breathes life into the cold stone of the lime kilns.

The lime kilns in Manistique, Michigan, hold a fascinating history that goes beyond the usual narrative. The story of George Nicholson and the labor-intensive process of turning limestone into quicklime offer a unique perspective on this industry. The history, the sightings, and the untold stories paint a vivid picture of a town shaped by the very structures that seem frozen in time. The question remains: What other untold stories lie within the history of Manistique’s lime kilns?

Lime Kilns Historical Marker

Lime KilnsRegistered in 1964 and erected in 1968 – ID # L40

Located North of US-2 Highway on Gardapee Rd. (Old US Hwy 2), Manistique Township – Lat: 45.98563100/Long: -86.13445600

These towers are the remains of kilns used by the White Marble Lime Company, founded by George Nicholson Jr. in 1889. The kilns, which were fired by wood waste from the lumber industry, burned dolomite to produce quicklime for use as a building material and an ingredient in the manufacture of paper. As larger corporations were formed and the methods of producing lime were made more efficient, the company diversified; it established a sawmill and shingle mill and became a dealer in forest products, as well as crushed stone, cement, and builders’ supplies. Its operations here and in Manistique and Blaney once employed some 250 men. In 1925 the company was reorganized as the Manistique Lime and Stone Company, and continued under that name until the Depression of 1929.

For more information about George and the White Maple Lime Company visit the Schoolcraft County Historical Society.

Learn more about the rich history of the Central Upper Peninsula.