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Workers preparing to move historic pavilion from eroding bluff

Orchard Beach State Parks' historic 400-ton pavilion will be moved a quarter-mile away from an eroding bluff high above Lake Michigan.

MANISTEE COUNTY, Mich. — Michigan State Park are 100 years old, and over the decades the state parks have moved structures like cabins but never anything as massive as the 400-ton limestone pavilion at Orchard Beach State Park that will be moved in November or December. 

The pavilion has stood on a bluff high above Lake Michigan since construction finished in the 1940's.

"It was a Civilian Conservation Corps building," said Orchard Beach State Park Supervisor Doug Barry.

If nothing's done, Barry and engineers believe the pavilion will fall into the lake because of erosion that continues just 30-feet from the historic structure.

"This whole park and campground is on the list of National Register of Historic Places," said Barry. "It's scary because we don't want to loose this part of our history."

Workers have begun the process of moving the pavilion one-quarter mile north from its' current location to the park's day use area.

"They studied it and said yes it can be done," said Barry.

The structure is a popular venue for weddings, picnics, community events, and weddings. It includes two large fireplaces made from large sections of limestone. 

"If all goes well it's a one day move," said Tim Heffley with Pennsylvania based Wolfe House and Building Movers.

Moving day is still weeks away. Workers are currently numbering and removing exterior sections of limestone walls and preparing a temporary road to move the pavilion along.

Workers will be building a steel trailer under the pavilion and moving the structure on sections of wheels that are steered by remote control.

"We would say it's probably a medium challenge project," Heffley said.

The pavilion is believed to be the finest example of rustic park architecture in the Michigan State Parks system.

The project and other infrastructure improvements at the park will cost the Department of Natural Resources more than $1 million. 

Efforts to prevent erosion at the site with large wire baskets of stone failed, leading to the decision to move the pavilion before erosion gets and closer to the structure.

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