Garden Club tours Ocqueoc sites

Courtesy Photo Members of Alpena Garden Club recently enjoyed an outing that included Ocqueoc Falls, Ocqueoc Outdoor Center and several gardens.

The October meeting of the Alpena Garden Club was held at Karsten’s Restaurant in Rogers City and hosted by Judy McFalda. After a luncheon buffet, McFalda gave a brief presentation on the Ocqueoc Underground River and Ocqueoc Falls before introducing the guest speaker, Dr. Marianne Heidemann.

Heidemann has been instrumental in preserving the historic Ocqueoc Outdoor Center, formerly a CCC Camp known as Camp Black Lake.

The camp was built in 1993 as part of President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The program was designed to provide food, housing and work for young men during the Depression, but Camp Black Lake was the only one used exclusively by veterans of World War II who were unemployed.

The Corps worked out of the camp until the early 1940s. During this time period the CCC planted trees, built fire towers and cleared routes for airports and roads.

After the CCC disbanded, most of the camps fell into disrepair and were eventually destroyed. However, the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center has many of the original buildings because it was in use throughout the years as a youth camp.

Currently the camp is owned by Presque Isle County and is available to rent as a day camp or overnight by contacting the Presque Isle County MSU Extension office.

After the meeting adjourned, members enjoyed visiting Ocqueoc Falls, the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center and two private residences with landscaped gardens.

The club will hold election of officers during the Nov. 6 meeting at the Alpena Mall.