In a land where copper was king, the timber industry also ruled. Alberta sawmill,
opened September 1, 1936 and closed June 30, 1954, tells the story well.
One of three Ford-operated sawmills in Baraga County—L'Anse and Pequaming are the other two—the two-story, originally steam-powered operation was converted to electric in the 1970s.
In 1996 Ford Motor funded renovations to turn the sawmill into a museum—but it had from its inception been considered more demonstration showpiece than industrial-strength producer.
When it comes to sustainability, Henry Ford was an early adapter.
As much a social experiment as a practicality (the first boards were used to build the first houses in the community), the sawmill was part of Henry Ford's vision. It gave the public a chance to see a working mill in the context of a sustainable community: the Village of Alberta.
Steel dominated the wood industry post World War II. Considering economies of scale and decreased demand, the writing was on the wall. Michigan Tech continues to educate and demonstrate another of Henry Ford's guiding principles: forest management, including selective cutting.
Unfortunately the electrical systems, walkways, and lighting in the sawmill do not meet minimum standards for safety for visitors, and sadly we have had to close the sawmill to public visits at this time.