When the lumber industry moved into northern Michigan’s forests, settlements popped up everywhere. But when the trees were gone, the lumber camps moved on to new areas and the communities left behind would often fade away.
A new documentary tells the story of why the village of Interlochen was different.
“Interlochen narrows to about a third of a mile of land between two lakes,” says filmmaker Chris Hintz.
“The very same people who were lumbering off all this decided to stop and preserve a little narrow strip of land," Hintz says. "They thought it would be a really great spot for a resort.”
“Interlochen: A History Between the Lakes” covers Interlochen from it’s glacial history to the present.
Local historian Dave Pennington narrates the film.
“It was the lumber industry that finally brought settlers to the Interlochen area, starting about 1870,” says Pennington. “They called the pine forest green gold.”
Chris Hintz worked on the documentary for about a year and a half. He says the film was only limited by the footage and photos he could find. To get them, he scoured the internet and the archives at local and state libraries.
“You get a little obsessive about it because there’s always another picture out there,” he says. “Probably in somebody’s attic right now that really would have been helpful.”
But Hintz carried on with what he found.
“I think one of the fascinating parts of this story that is in the video but could have been greatly expanded is obviously the Native American history in the region,” he admits. “It’s limited by the amount of visuals that we had.”
But for the other chapters in Interlochen’s history, Chris had the footage and photos to tell the story.
How loggers came to the area, and eventually two railroad companies. Then a resort popped up, paving the way for Michigan’s first state park and even an arts camp. Chris says that’s how the village survived. Oftentimes, Interlochen can be lumped in with Traverse City, but he hopes this film will help people see it with fresh eyes.
“Knowing your history, knowing where you came from, and knowing kind of makes you stand out as a community," he says. "I think it really helps to give your own town it’s own identity back.”
"Interlochen: A History Between the Lakes" will premiere Friday night at the Interlochen Public Library. For more information, click here.