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Mike Cornelius continues series of books written on Hubbard Lake history

December 10, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

What started out for Mike Cornelius several years ago as simple intentions to write a single book about the history of Hubbard Lake has since mushroomed into three published volumes, with a fourth on the way.

Cornelius picked up the completed copies of his third book, "Hubbard Lake, Michigan: Past & Present, 1960-2012," last week from his publisher, Sarge Publications in Alpena. The beautiful coffee table-size book contains many historical facts and photographs, along with additional nature photographs that Cornelius has taken around the lake.

"I really enjoy doing these books," he said. "I get to talk to so many cool people and celebrate the history of Hubbard Lake."

He considers this third volume to be "the rest of the story," since his first volume covered the local history from the 1600s up to 1900 and his second volume was about the years from 1900 to the 1950s.

"My favorite decade was the '60s," he said.

To mark the publication of his latest work, Cornelius will do a book signing this Friday from 3-7 p.m. at Smokie's Restaurant and Tavern in Hubbard Lake. A second book signing has been lined up for Jan. 26 from 10:30-1:30 p.m. at Olivet Book and Gift in Alpena.

Photographs in volume three are in abundant supply. His first book contained 156 and his second book 357. This time around, he included about 700 photos.

"I have such a hard time chopping anything out of the book because I feel like I'm leaving out a piece of history," Cornelius said.

He admits there are also a few photos from the 1930s and 1940s even though the book focuses on the 1960s and forward, but he's okay with that.

"I figure it's my book, I can put in whatever I want," he jokingly said. "It's my catch-up book. There are photos from the undefeated Spruce baseball team of the 1940s and a section from the 1950s on the Alcona High School basketball team that went to the state semi-finals."

The big event that stands out for him during the 1960s is the quest to set the world speed record on water with a jet powered hyrdo-plane boat that took place in 1963 and put Hubbard Lake on the map. Spectators lined the shores to watch Les Staudacher in the Miss Stars and Stripes II exceed 260 miles per hour, "with spray that could be seen clear across the lake, and a roar heard five miles away."

In doing research for his book, Cornelius traveled to Staudacher's original workshop in Kawkawlin, where family members shared photographs of the speedboat designer/driver and the craft.

"He came to Hubbard Lake because he wanted a large body of water and one that wasn't real busy," Cornelius said. "He was welcomed by the locals."

Staudacher unofficially reached a speed of 280 miles per hour with the Miss Stars and Stripes. Unfortunately, his plan went awry when the rudder snapped and the boat took a sharp right turn, headed for the shore and plowed 200 feet into the woods. Staudacher was catapulted into the water and spent several months recuperating in the hospital.

Another event Cornelius records from the time period was the Sept. 26, 1976 crash of a giant KC-135 tanker in the woods at Hubbard Lake. Fifteen of the 20 military personnel on board were killed in the crash that occurred in an isolated, heavily wooded area. A reunion of the survivors was held 30 years later and a memorial erected on the site of the crash.

The details about the plane crash were recorded in the book as part of a large section paying tribute to the three fire departments serving the Hubbard Lake area: Hubbard Lake Fire Dept., South Shore Fire Dept., and Alcona Township Fire Dept. #2.

Also featured in the book are details about Manjidiwan Days, the founding of Mt. Mariah and the Hubbard Lake Triathalon.

Cornelius currently is at work on his fourth volume which will detail the history of hunting and fishing around Hubbard Lake. He welcomes submissions of related photos, and expects the book to be out in 2013.

For copies of his most recent book, which sells for $61.50 plus tax, contact Cornelius at 464-6471.



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