Historic Mather Lodge purchased by USFS
GLADSTONE – Hiawatha National Forest announces the purchase of Mather Lodge, located along the bus tour and bike/hike trails on the scenic west shore of Grand Island National Recreation Area. The U.S. Forest Service intends to make the structure available for public use through historic interpretation.
“We are very excited about this opportunity, especially since Mather Lodge is among the most significant historic structures within the National Recreation Area,” notes District Ranger Charlie Marsh.
Prior to the purchase, Mather Lodge has been a privately owned structure located on Hiawatha National Forest lands via a special use permit. After deciding not to renew their special use permit for the Lodge, owners Mary and Mark Frederickson (Monteray, Calif.) asked the Forest Service if it would be interested in purchasing the historic Mather Lodge.
How does the Lodge fit into Grand Island’s existing recreation program? About twelve thousand visitors annually come ashore on Grand Island to enjoy its spectacular cliffs, beaches, and historic sites while hiking, biking, bus touring or boating. Additionally, over 400,000 tourists view and learn about the NRA on commercial cruises and from several overlooks on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The U.S. Forest Service anticipates public ownership of Mather Lodge will enhance island visitors’ experiences by providing interpretation of one of the island’s most significant historic structures.
Situated on the island’s rugged west shore near bus and trail routes, Mather Lodge has great potential to add value to the existing bus tour concession, as well as to non-commercial enjoyment of the island. This summer, the site will be featured as part of the Summer 2012 Grand Island Archaeology field school, operated through partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Illinois State University.
“The archaeology field school provides an excellent way to gather information and increase understanding of the building and its site,” explains Forest Archaeologist John Franzen. Information gathered in this summer’s field school may be used to develop future public interpretation and exhibits about the lodge.
Beyond summer 2012, the future use of the Mather Lodge is likely to evolve, guided by Congressional direction that conservation, protection and enhancement of the island’s scenery and historic and cultural resources are central to the mission of GINRA. For more information about the purchase of Mather Lodge, contact District Ranger Charlie Marsh at (906) 387-2512.