Detroit News 18 Feb 1990

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Detroit News 18 Feb 1990 - The Detroit News Sunday, February 18, 1990...
The Detroit News Sunday, February 18, 1990 Thomas BeVier UR native cultivates trees, history Show me a man who'd rather talk about how he was once the laughingstock of the county than his accomplishments or the , honors he's received, and I'll show you a man worth spending time with. I'll also show you a man with lots of friends, a man like Fred Rydholm, 65, who seems to know just about everybody in the Upper Peninsula. In fact, given his ties to the region, the retired junior high school science teacher was probably the perfect author for a recently completed 1 ,598-page, two-volume history of the U.P. called Superior Heartland. The initial reason for my visit to his rustic house on the Lake Superior shore east of Marquette was to talk about how he and his wife, June, received the Michigan Outstanding Tree Farmer Award. They have a shot at winning the national award to be announced next summer. I'd heard he had written a history, but I was only mildly interested. Writing histories is something of a cottage industry in the U.P. Scores of little volumes roll off the presses every year, chronicling everything from growing up on a Finnish farm to conditions underground at such-and-such a forgotten mine. "Wow," I said as I hefted the six pounds of books. "How long did this take you?" "OH, ABOUT 35 years, on and off," he said. "I had to do a lot of cutting to get it all in. By the way, my interest in history fits in with my tree farming." Both experiences have taught him not to quit when people laugh at you. Back in 1949, when hepurchased the first 80 acres of what developed into his present 960 acres of tree farm holdings, he paid $10 an acre $800 total for a cutover, burned-over land near the Yellow Dog River south of Big Bay. "When my friends saw it, they laughed and laughed," he said, chuckling at the memory. "People were practically giving land away for payment of taxes. I really thought I'd been taken, and I was, but I had to have that particular piece of land for a hunting camp." The reason he wanted it was that it had historic significance, though slight. It was on a trail midway between the McCormick Tract, the preserve of International Harvester mogul Cyrus McCormick, and the Huron Mountain Club, an exclusive wilderness club still in operation. The land was so barren that he had to plant trees. Like nearly anything he starts like digging a crawl space under his house that evolved into a full basement he didn't know when to duit. He figures he's planted about 200,000 trees since and does not plan to stop. His U.P. history followed the same trend. It started with a report in college, which a professor said Rydholm might consider expanding. THE PROFESSOR would be amazed at the consequences of his suggestion. I've only had time to skim over the huge history, but from what I've read I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be the most entertaining and complete history ever done on the U.P. . Rydholm, whose family has been involved in U.P. civic and political affairs for four generations, knew many of the principal characters personally'. He served 14 years on the Marquette City Commission and has been a mainstay in the Marquette County Historical Society. In January, he received the citizen of the year award from the Marquette Area Chamber of Commerce. The history was privately printed, at a cost of $100,000, which Rydholm not a wealthy man raised through pre-publication sales and credit for anticipated revenues. "Weren't you worried about the book not selling?" I asked. "I had faith," he said. The first printing or 3,000 copies is nearly gone, at $50 a set. He is ready for a second printing. And, oh yes, he has begun work on a third volume to include all that stuff he had to leave out. Thomas BeVier's mailing address is Post Office Box 5145, Traverse City, Mich. 49685-5145 it His and Mason, Oldsmo-bile and the he'd T

Clipped from
  1. Detroit Free Press,
  2. 18 Feb 1990, Sun,
  3. Page 188

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