Ice Caves No Longer Safe
The ice formations in Leelanau Township, north of the park, are no longer safe to visit. High winds have fractured the ice, moving it to the west. Huge cracks have formed in the cave arches, making them very unsafe and open water is now visible.
Pierce Stocking (1908 - 1976) spent his youth working as a lumberman in Michigan's forests. In 1948, he bought forest land from D.H. Day south of Glen Haven.
Day Forest Hill was one of the first managed forests in this part of the state. Its owner, D.H. Day, protected the smaller trees to promote a future lumber harvest. When Pierce Stocking purchased the land, there was enough new growth to warrant a selective harvest. The sawmill he set up near this spot produced considerable waste that was converted to charcoal in kilns located at the present site of the trailhead for the Alligator Hill hiking trail. This loose, dusty, random-sized material was packed in bags for shipment to stores in much of Michigan for sale to campers and picnickers. The sawdust pile from his mill can still be seen on the other side of Stocking Road. After the mature trees had been harvested, the mill was closed and the kilns abandoned.
Stocking loved the woods and spent most of his spare time there, developing a self-taught knowledge of nature. He used to walk the bluffs above Lake Michigan, awed by the view of the dunes, Lake Michigan and the islands. He wanted to share this beauty with others and conceived the idea of a road to the top of the dunes.
As a lumberman, he built roads in difficult terrain before. The planning for the road began in the early 1960's and in 1967, the road, then known as Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, first opened to the public. Stocking continued to operate the scenic drive until his death in 1976. In 1977, the road became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several years later, based on public opinion, the drive was named the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
Did You Know?
The lighthouse on South Manitou Island (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore) was commissioned in 1872 and served Lake Michigan Shipping for over 100 years. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and climb its 117 step circular stairway to a great view of the Manitou Passage. More...