BERLE V. LAPIN/ VETERAN’S MEMORIAL PARK
A TRIBUTE TO CHAMPION’S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
In 2005, Champion’s residents came together to pay tribute to Supervisor Berle V. Lapin for his thirty plus years of service to their community. With the vision of building a park to honor LaPin, the town purchased an acre and a half of abandoned railroad property in the middle of town. Out of the first planning session came the idea that the park should also honor area veterans and educate the public about Champion.
This park site was a part of the Champion railroad hub that played an invaluable role in Champion’s history. Out of this hub, trains carried iron ore to Marquette and wood to Kingsford for use in the Henry Ford automobile plant. It was also a jumping off spot for Cyrus McCormick to travel to his secluded northern summer camp.
Through a generous grassroots effort of money and of labor, phase one was completed. Phase one began by moving a fifteen-ton cement veteran’s monument to the park site. A retaining wall built by volunteers surrounds the obelisk. Between the wall and the monument flowers were donated and planted . Later three flag poles were erected – a 30’ pole for an American flag, a 25’ pole for the Michigan State flag and a 20’ pole for a P.O.W-M.I.A. flag.
In August 2006, on a beautiful summer day, a crowd of 150 celebrated the ground breaking. Participating in the ceremony were the Champion Fire Department color guard and Boy Scout Troop 321 from Ishpeming assisting. Many clergy prayed at the ceremony. Following the ceremony a lunch was held in the town hall.
In 2007, with additional funding the second and final phase was completed. The final phase included a well-lighted 8’x 16’ covered railroad platform similar in design to the building that stood near this site a hundred years ago. The shelter will eventually house an historical marker and tourist information. The tourist information will include a self-guided tour of Champion’s local sites mentioned in the Northwoods Readers by Cully Gage. In addition, the tour map will include eight underground mine sites, an iron smelting furnace site, charcoal oven locations and the two cemetery locations. The grounds will be enhanced by lighting and by a variety of plantings.
The committee appreciates your ideas and your donations of time and money. No tax moneys were or will be used in this construction project.
Note: Berle LaPin passed away in June of 2012. This park remains as a tribute to his life of service and to the service of all who have served our country in our armed forces.
Mail Donations to:
Champion Township Hall Make checks payable to: Berle LaPin Veterans Memorial Park Fund
US - 41
Champion, MI 49814
“WHEN WE SEE LAND AS A COMMUNITY TO WHICH WE BELONG, WE MAY BEGIN TO USE IT WITH LOVE AND RESPECT.” Aldo Leopold