The following in an excerpt from the book “Strange Michigan, More Wolverine State Weirdness” forthcoming in October 2008, by permission of the author.
The woods of Michigan buzzed with saws of lumberjacks in the early 20th Century, with particularly intense activity in the lush Jordan River Valley near Alba. Although most tree-fellers toiled in obscurity, working until either the wood or their backs gave out, one Jordan River Valley teamster known as “Big Sam” became a legend But his fame was not of the type anyone would desire.
Big Sam, born Stanley Graczyk, was only 21 in May of 1910. He labored willingly in the valley, hoping to earn money for his upcoming wedding to a longtime sweetheart. On the 20th of that month, a routine drive down the steep hill with a big-wheeled wagon full of logs went terribly wrong and Sam was crushed to death. He was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in Elmira. The slope has been known ever since as “Dead Man’s Hill”, and the state forest management still posts a warning sign for people to stay off the lethal incline. Look for a small sign a few miles north of Kalkaska on M-66 for the turnoff to the breathtaking scenic overlook.
Linda S. Godfrey, author of that amazing compendium of the unexplained Weird Michigan. The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan, so be sure to stay tuned and send us or Linda your Michigan weirdness.
You can see the location and a photo of Deadman’s Hill from the Antrim County web site.