Otter River Cabin

"It is the only place where a forester can go to just relax and enjoy the beautiful Copper Country. No exams to worry about, no homework to do, just fishin', fun, and friends."—Ronald J. Church, Camp Committee Chairman, 1971 Michigan Tech Forester Yearbook

Our Wilderness Retreat

For more than 60 years, Otter River Cabin has been a four-season getaway for the School of Forestry and Environmental Science. The 18-acre property’s centerpiece is a 1,600-square-foot red-pine log cabin on the bank of the Otter River in Houghton County. But now the cabin has come to the end of its lifespan.

"The only heat was the fireplaces and the 'facilities' were a one-holer back in the bush. Can someone tell me why I miss it so?" —Don Scott, '56, Alumni News 2007

A grayling fish hatchery built in 1935, the property was donated in 1954 to what was then known as the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, by what was then known as the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Conservation. The understanding? The fledgling forestry program would use and maintain the cabin into the future. SFRES has lived up to the agreement, starting with replacing the deteriorating spruce log foundation with native sandstone. Through the years a new sauna, furnaces, roofing, other improvements, and bi-annual spruce-ups kept the cabin functional.

“The water pipe from the spring was repaired, and a large stone and cement cistern was installed. This serves not only as an efficient water supply but also as a retaining tank for fresh-caught trout.”—Mike Massie, Report from Otter River, 1958 Michigan Tech Forester Yearbook  

There have been many group activities here over the years. But some of the best times at Otter River Cabin are spent alone or in small groups, basking in the cozy solitude of self-sufficiency.

My heart sank; there was a trespasser in Eden. As I waded up to the bar, I cursed the gods for allowing this injustice. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised. The tread pattern of the boots that made the tracks was clearly visible in a few locations, and I realized the tracks were mine made the week before. The world was right once more. — Ron Sadler, '57, That Special Place