Hamlin Lake Preservation Society


Protecting Hamlin Lake for Future Generations 

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  The Ludington Dunes: A Personal History
1921 Albert K. Henning
March 2016
3074 Piney Ridge Rd
  The Ludington Dunes are 2820 acres of coastal sand dunes in Hamlin Township, Mason County, Michigan. The Ludington Dunes are part of the 6270-acre Big Sable Dune Complex, and are located south of the Big Sable River at its entrance to Lake Michigan, and west of Hamlin Lake. The other 3450 acres are called the Nordhouse Dunes, and are located north of the River and northwest of Hamlin Lake. The Nordhouse Dunes also comprise the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, a National Forest Wilderness Area established in 1987.
  (For the sake of comparison, the open dune area of the Big Sable Dune Complex is approximately 90% bigger than the open dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.)
  Two of my maternal great-grandparents, Samuel Borgeson and Kristina (Christine) Johnson, emigrated from Halland County, Sweden. They arrived in Ludington around 1888, and settled on Melendy Street. My maternal grandfather, Leonard Borgeson, was born in Ludington in 1895. Following combat service in France in WWI, Leonard left Ludington for Chicago. He married Ethel Bergeson in 1920, founded an accounting firm, and had a successful career as an accountant, with close ties to the Swedish-American community in the Chicago area.
  Grandpa maintained a lifelong relationship with family and friends in Ludington. His boyhood friend, Albert E. Johnson, became Mason County Clerk for many years; Albert had married Grandpa’s cousin Olga Johnson in 1917. Albert advised Grandpa, in the 1920s, to buy two cottages on Piney Ridge Road along Lower Hamlin Lake. These cottages have been in our family for four generations. Second- and even third-cousins (Borgesons and Bergesons and Johnsons) also situated themselves in other cottages nearby. And over that time span, we have all benefited from the close proximity to Ludington, Hamlin Lake, and the Ludington Dunes, and from the relationships with others who love and cherish these places.

  My primary purpose with this talk (March 16, 2016) is to describe my personal history with respect to Ludington, in the context of the Ludington Dunes, by focusing on four themes.
  The natural features of these Dunes have affected people and property greatly over the decades. At the same time, attitudes of people toward our natural surroundings have changed over the last hundred-plus years. I will trace some of these effects and changes, mostly from an anecdotal perspective.
  Our region has also been affected by natural resource development. Since its founding, Ludington has relied upon natural resource development as an important element of its economy: lumber, and later mineral brine salts, and energy (both oil and gas, and ‘green’ energy from wind and water storage) have made major contributions. The economy has also relied on the transportation of the products of this development, via ship, train, truck, and high-tension power lines. I will highlight some of the major milestones along the timeline of natural resource development in Mason County.
  The Sargent family of Bay City acquired a major portion of the Ludington Dunes around 1920. Mining of surface sands under the auspices of the Sargent Sand Company has therefore also been part of this resource development. Since the large-scale deployment of hydraulic fracturing methods in the US oil and gas industry (beginning around 2005), Sargent’s historically low-scale operations have been transformed dramatically in size and scope, with a coincident transformation in their consequences. I will discuss what I have learned about the process of hydraulic fracturing, in the US in general, and locally in particular: the use of sand as a ‘proppant’ (to prop open the cracks, or fractures, in that process); the present and future sources of proppants; the economics of surface sand mining; the status of law in the State of Michigan relative to surface sand mining; the reduction to practice of those laws by state regulators; and where Sargent Sand Company, and its neighbors, fit within the local, state, and national landscapes.
  I will finish the talk with a discussion of what I think the future can hold for our Ludington Dunes.
  Biography: Albert K. Henning
  Al Henning was born in Chicago in 1955, and was raised in the suburbs northwest of the city. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics, in 1977 and 1979 respectively, from Dartmouth College. Following employment with Intel in Santa Clara, CA from 1979 to 1982, he returned to graduate school at Stanford, and received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1987.
  His career has spanned large companies (Intel), academe (as a professor of engineering at Dartmouth), and small start-up companies in the area of micro-fabricated integrated circuits, micro-scale flow control systems for industrial and home refrigeration applications, and biosensors for personal and clinical healthcare.
  Two of Al’s Swedish great-grandparents settled in Ludington around 1888; his maternal grandfather was born and raised on Melendy Street. He has been married since 1977 to Carol Muller (also a Ph.D., with specialization in higher education administration). They have two children. In his free time Al enjoys choral singing, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, nature photography, kayaking/canoeing, and German language study.
JClark4626@aol.com Hamlin Lake Preservation Society PO Box 178, Ludington, MI 49431