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In the spring of the year 1900 Professor Jacob E. Reighard of the Department of Zoology appeared before the Board of Regents to discuss the establishment of a biological station on the Great Lakes, to be under University control but maintained by the government. The Regents then asked President Angell to take the matter up with Senator James McMillan in the hope of obtaining favorable action by the government. Apparently the project came to naught. The idea was not entirely abandoned by the University, however, for in October, 1903, Professor John O. Reed included in his plan for the betterment of the Summer Session a suggestion that a biological station be established at some suitable place on the lakes of Michigan, "for the study of Botany and Zoölogy and for accommodation of persons desiring to do advanced work in those lines" (R.P., 1901-6, p. 270). But again no immediate action resulted.

Authorization of the establishment of a biological station was finally secured and was recorded thus in the minutes of the Board of Regents for April 28, 1909:

On motion of Regent Carey it was voted that a teaching or research station in Botany and Zoology at a total appropriation for equipment, salaries and other expense for 1909 not to exceed $2,000, should be established at the Bogardus Engineering Camp,* provided at least twenty students should elect the course for the coming Summer Session.

(R.P., 1906-10, p. 472.)

During the summer of 1908 the University had acquired a tract of land of nearly fourteen hundred acres, on the south and east shores of Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, partly by purchase and partly by gift from Charles and Hannah W. Bogardus, of Pellston (R.P., 1906-10, pp. 274-75, 348). According to Reighard, Colonel Bogardus and his wife had expressed the wish that scientific work be done on the site:

With that remark, the biological station was conceived. Dean Cooley wanted still more land and thought that the founding of a biological station might lead Colonel and Mrs. Bogardus to offer it on the same favorable terms as before. He took the matter to the Board of Regents and, largely through the efforts of Regent Carey, they were persuaded to send a committee from Ann Arbor in the fall of 1908 to look over the proposed site.

(Reighard, p. 5.)

The personnel of that committee does not appear on the records of the Regents, nor is their report acknowledged or published. Reighard stated that he was not a member and that he did not know its membership, but that Frederick C. Newcombe of the Department of Botany represented the science of biology, and he believed that the secretary of the University and several Regents were members of the party. The committee recommended that the Regents found a biological station to be administered by the Summer Session. George P. Burns, of the Department of Botany, who may have been a member of the committee, strongly urged the establishment of a biological station.

Although only fourteen of the required twenty students applied for admission, the Biological Station was permitted to go ahead under the directorship of Reighard and with Burns as the other member of the teaching staff and Miss Frances J. Dunbar as general assistant.

For buildings the Station had one of the two small, old log buildings, which had been hastily built about 1904 for use as a railroad grading camp. The surveying camp was located a third of a mile farther west on South Fishtail Bay of Douglas Lake. About six miles to the west and a little south was the village of Pellston, eight miles southeast was Topinabee, and thirteen miles northeast was Cheboygan.

A plague of black flies delayed the opening of the session for a week, and this delay gave much-needed time for erecting the tents for living quarters and for installing shelves and windows in the log laboratory and a platform and a hand pump for the aquarium. Photographs taken at the time record these preparations and the barren appearance of the landscape, which had been repeatedly burned over. Gaunt black stubs twenty to fifty feet high were prominent features of the landscape, and huge pine stumps showed that a magnificent pine forest had been removed some thirty years earlier (1876 and 1877).

The women students lived in tents pitched near the engineers' dining tent on the hill behind the surveying camp. The men's tents were pitched along the shore west of the log laboratory. The log laboratory had shelves for equipment, books, supplies, and specimens, also tables for classes, research, and office work.

Those few tents, some of them borrowed, and the old log building used as a laboratory, with a small shed attached at the rear, a platform, a water tank, and a hand pump for the aquarium, constituted the physical plant. The fleet consisted of three rowboats. There were no automobiles nor trucks for transportation overland. Students and staff boarded at the dining tent operated by the Bogardus Engineering Camp.

Since the Biological Station was still considered an experiment, at the close of the session the students were asked to report on the value of their work and their experiences during the summer. Without exception, these reports (in the Biological Station files) were enthusiastic in their praise of the character and quality of the instruction, of the type of courses offered, and of the value of the work accomplished in preparation for teaching and research. All placed high value on their experiences. Most of the students preferred living in tents to living in dormitories. Their suggestions in these letters had considerable weight with Director Reighard and with the administration in evaluating the Station as an experiment in biological education.

Although the Station was considered to have been successful, there remained much uncertainty regarding its permanence and, particularly, its location. From 1913 to 1916 inclusive the very existence of the Station was endangered; it lacked the strong support of the Departments of Botany and Zoology. A majority of its staff and students came from other institutions. The comprehensive and vigorous report of Director Otto C. Glaser at the close of the session of 1916 brought it the needed support of the departments and strengthened the determination of the Summer Session authorities to continue its existence. Since that time the Station has been looked upon as an established part of the Summer Session and well past the experimental stage.

The Station had been situated on Douglas Lake because the University owned the land and on that particular site because of its proximity to the Bogardus Engineering Camp and the availability of the log buildings. There had been no survey of the state to determine the best area for a biological field station, nor had the Bogardus tract been carefully surveyed for the best site. As early as 1911 parties from the Station had examined Burt Lake and had reported on its nonsuitability as a location. Adverse reports were made following examinations of Pine Lake in Charlevoix County in 1917 by members of the staff and of a tract south of Williamsburg in 1927 by members of the staff and Regents Beal and Hubbard. In later years much of the shoreline of Douglas Lake was carefully examined, and reports were made on part of Section 29, Munro Township, lying at the northwest corner of the tract. Again and again the directors and their staffs examined Grapevine Point, about three-fourths of a mile north of the Engineering Camp, and brought that site to the attention of the Board of Regents. Plans were prepared for the development of a physical plant on that site, and repeated requests for funds for that purpose were presented to the Board. In turn, the Board, no less than twice, requested funds from the legislature for the development on Grapevine Point.

Meanwhile, after the World War, the growth in the enrollment at the Biological Station had been rapid and continuous. Many small buildings had been erected on the narrowly limited original site, bounded on the front by the lake and on the side and back by the engineers' base line and an old dry beach pool. Roads and streets had not been built and could not be cheaply constructed on the soft beach sand. A water supply under pressure, sanitary toilets, and other conveniences had not been provided. The old site was recognized as intolerable, and the need for expansion became greater year by year.

In the fall of 1927 a party consisting of President Little, Secretary Smith, Regent Beal, Deans Huber, Kraus, and Dana, Professors Bartlett and Ruthven, and Directors La Rue and Johnston inspected the two camps on the Bogardus Tract and examined Grapevine Point as a site for the Biological Station. By that time the staff members had become convinced that no better area for biological study would be found in the state, and the great value of the accumulated data was recognized.

Following that trip of inspection it was made known that Director Johnston and the staff of Camp Davis desired to give up their location on Douglas Lake and to build a new camp in Wyoming. Growth of trees and underbrush, since fires had been prevented, had been so great as to interfere seriously with the practice of surveying. The old engineering camp thus became available for the Biological Station, and the plan to erect buildings on Grapevine Point was abandoned.

The summer of 1928 was spent in preparing plans for the occupation of the Camp Davis site. In February 1929, the Regents set aside the sum of $70,000 for the development of camps for surveying and biology. That summer and fall and the spring of 1930 were spent in carrying out these plans. On the old Camp Davis site this work involved the cutting and grading of new streets, the extension of the water and sewage systems, and the erection of several buildings. New water tanks and septic tanks were built, and two two-story laboratory buildings were constructed, in addition to an administration building to house offices, with a stockroom-store on the first floor and a dining hall and a kitchen on the second. Ninety-nine other buildings were moved or put onto foundations. Although work had not been completed, the session of 1930 was held in the new location, which included the old Camp Davis site and extended as far to the east as the old log laboratory.

On this site there is a central campus area which includes the laboratories, the keeper's residence, the aquarium building, a small animal house, a garage, the library, the clubhouse, and the administration building. Immediately to the west on the main street (State Street) is a group of eighteen small houses set aside for married students, and on the hillside behind and west of this area is a group of twenty-three small houses for men students. At the west end of State Street are a garage and the covered harbor and boathouse. Immediately east of the campus area along State Street are the three Health Service buildings, an office and living quarters for the dean of women, living quarters for the kitchen force, and thirty-one houses for women students, guests, and investigators. Along East State Street, extending from the guesthouses to the log laboratory, are a dozen houses for faculty members.

Since 1930 many unfinished construction jobs projected on the original plans have been completed. These include additions to the aquarium building, the conversion of the basement of the Camp Davis kitchen into a photographic suite with five darkrooms, the insulation of the dining hall and kitchen, the wiring of many buildings for electric light or power, the construction of retaining walls and of stone paths from broken concrete floors, the development of clayed paths, the construction of terraces in front of the administration building, of log stairways outside certain buildings, and of a tower on which insects can be collected at night with the aid of an arc light, and the reconstruction of the baseball diamond.

Except for the construction of fire lanes around the two stations and attempts to prevent forest fires, no efforts had been made for more than twenty years to improve the forest on the tract. Natural reseeding was in process on certain areas, but on others there were only scattered clumps of bushes and aspens. In 1930 the forest was placed under the supervision of Professor Willett F. Ramsdell, of the School of Forestry and Conservation, in order that the existing forest might receive expert care and be improved by planting and by the removal of the less desirable trees. This was made possible through the generosity of the George Willis Pack Foundation and of members of the Pack family. Before June 1937, approximately one thousand acres had been planted. A program of long-term studies on the Biological Station forest has been instituted by Ramsdell and his colleagues.

The fire lanes built around the two stations in the early years had long gone untended. In 1931 the co-operation of the State Department of Conservation was secured in the construction of certain fire lanes on the property; later, with the aid of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the University was able to have some miles of work roads built and the fire lanes extended and improved. These are maintained by annual cultivation. The CCC in 1933 constructed a building for the forestry equipment and in 1934 erected an eighty-five-foot fire tower, which had been donated by the Department of Conservation.

The original tract of nearly fourteen hundred acres has been extended by purchase and by acquisition of tax titles. In 1940 it comprised about four thousand acres. Early in 1942, by means of a special legislative act, the State Department of Conservation was enabled to transfer to the University for the purposes of its Biological Station more than three thousand acres of tax-reverted lands, which the Department of Conservation had earlier acquired from the state. Nearly half of this new tract is adjacent to the old one, but other parcels are separated.

Instruction at the Biological Station. — Teaching is an important function of the Biological Station. With few exceptions the courses offered have supplemented instruction given in colleges and universities, and emphasis has been placed upon field work, but not to the exclusion of work in the laboratory and the library, the degree of emphasis upon each aspect depending upon the course and upon the special interests of the instructors and the students.

In the following brief account of the courses subject matter can be indicated only by titles. It is impossible to describe clearly the changes in content, method, and emphasis as the professors changed.

Zoology. — Courses treating the field aspects of vertebrates have been an important part of the offerings of the Station from the beginning. The first course was entitled the Natural History of Vertebrate Animals. With some changes in title and emphasis this course was given by Jacob E. Reighard (1909, 1911-12), Norman H. Stewart (1910), Max M. Ellis (1913-17), and Frank Smith (1919-22) for two hours of credit. Reighard emphasized behavior and evolution in lecture and library work, but field studies received attention. Stewart gave emphasis to field studies, Ellis and Smith to ecology and taxonomy. This course was replaced by Ichthyology, two hours, and Herpetology and Mammalogy, two hours, both offered by Francis Harper in 1923 and 1924 and by Charles W. Creaser since 1925.

Birds were included in Natural History during the years 1909 and 1910, but in 1911 became the object of a separate two-hour course, the Natural History of Birds, given by Smith and continued by Smith and John S. Dexter (1912), Ellis and James S. Compton (1913), Compton alone (1914), Norman A. Wood (1915), and Reuben M. Strong (1916). The title was changed to Ornithology in 1917, and under this name the course was given successively by Strong (1917), Roland F. Hussey (1918), Dayton Stoner (1919-20), Zeno P. Metcalf (1921), Frank N. Blanchard (1922-27, 1929-37), Alfred O. Gross (1928) while Blanchard was on leave, and Olin S. Pettingill (1938 — ). Because of increased interest in the subject, Advanced Ornithology was started by Blanchard in 1923. For many years the enrollment in the elementary ornithology course was higher than that in any other course except Entomology.

The invertebrates have always received their share of attention. Reighard gave a course entitled Fresh-Water Biology, two hours credit, in 1909. This course gave way in 1910 to the Natural History of Invertebrates, by Arthur S. Pearse. Without change of title this course was given successively by Frank Smith (1911-14), Robert W. Hegner (1915), and Otto C. Glaser (1916). Then the title was changed to read, the Natural History of Invertebrate Animals with Reference to the Principles of Ecology, and it was given by Walter N. Koelz (1917) and by Paul S. Welch (1918-22), who emphasized the limnological aspects and introduced quantitative methods. In recognition of these changes, the course was renamed Limnology in 1923. The Natural History of Vertebrates was re-established in 1933 as a four-hour course, and it has been given regularly by Frank E. Eggleton, with emphasis upon taxonomy and ecology of invertebrates exclusive of insects and parasitic worms.

Limnology, as indicated above, developed from the course known as Natural History of Invertebrates and was first given under its new name in 1923 as a four-hour course. Since its inception it has been taught continuously by Welch, although Eggleton was associated with him in this work for three years (1931-33). The need for additional training in methods of limnological research led in 1931 to the establishment of a two-hour course named Limnological Methods and given by Eggleton. Repeated in 1932, it has been given in alternate years thereafter.

Instruction in entomology began in 1912, when a two-hour course entitled the Natural History of Insects was offered by Smith and Welch, with Welch giving the instruction. It was given by Welch in 1913, by Ellis in the years 1914-17, and in 1918 by Welch, as Ellis had been called to war service. Stoner gave the course in 1919 and 1920, and Metcalf in 1921. Without undergoing any change in content, it was renamed Entomology in 1922, and Robert Matheson was put in charge. It was made a four-hour course in 1923, when Herbert B. Hungerford took charge of it. Hungerford has continued to give the course except in 1928, when he was on leave and Clarence H. Kennedy gave it. For years this course had been deservedly popular, and usually there were more students enrolled in it than there were in any of the other courses.

A course in helminthology was established in 1927 and has been given every year since by William W. Cort and Lyell J. Thomas.

In 1910 Arthur S. Pearse and Miss Mary T. Harmon gave the course entitled Zoology for Teachers, and Horace B. Baker gave Natural History of Mollusks in 1911. Neither course has been repeated.

In the early years students who had had no previous biological training were sometimes admitted to courses in zoology. Only once, in 1915, was the elementary course called General Zoology given, and then Cort was in charge. With few exceptions since that date students taking zoology courses have been required to present one or more courses in biology or zoology for entrance.

Botany. — During the first three years there was a complete change of the botanical staff (one professor) each year, resulting in extensive changes in courses.

During the first session, however, three important lines of botanical work were begun which have been pursued almost without interruption to the present. These are ecology, systematic botany, and a botanical survey of the region. From time to time there have been changes in emphasis, new aspects of these major fields have been undertaken, and new courses have been added as the staff grew and demand warranted.

The Teachers' Course in Ecology, which was given by George P. Burns in 1909 for two or for four hours of credit, was never repeated in that form; in 1913 and 1914, however, a course called Ecology but which dealt with the ecology of plants, two hours, was given by Henry A. Gleason. It was enlarged to a four-hour course in 1915, when it was given by Gleason and Frank C. Gates. Since that time it has been given annually by Gates. In 1930 the title was changed to Plant Ecology. A two-hour course known as Advanced Ecology was given by George E. Nichols in the summers 1926-30 inclusive.

The first course in systematic botany (1909) was Burns's Identification of Trees and Shrubs, two hours, which was superseded in 1910 by a more general course, Systematic Botany of Seed Plants, two hours, by Pool. Since that time it has been called Systematic Botany and has been given by Gleason (1911-14), Frank C. Gates (1915), John H. Ehlers (1916-38), and William C. Steere (1939 — ). Advanced Systematic Botany, two hours, dealing with grasses and sedges, was instituted by Ehlers in 1915 and was given annually thereafter until 1932, since which time it has been alternated with Aquatic Flowering Plants, two hours, also given by Ehlers and continued by Steere (1939 — ).

The systematics of the lower plants have also been the subject of courses. Taxonomy of the Bryophytes, two hours, and Taxonomy of Fresh-Water Algae, two hours, have been given by Nichols (1920-38), Hempstead Castle substituting for him in 1931 during his illness. The algae course has appeared under a variety of titles. The two-hour course named Mycology and given by R. J. Pool in 1910 has never been repeated, although the present staff has been on record for many years as favoring the re-establishment of such a course.

During the early years some students without previous biological or botanical training were admitted. For them in 1910 Pool gave a four-hour course designated the Course in Field and Forest Botany. This was continued by Gleason and Fred A. Loew during the summers of 1911 and 1912, and was given by Harry N. Whitford in 1913, by Gleason and Frank T. McFarland in 1914, by McFarland in 1915, and by Richard M. Holman in 1916 and 1917. For students with only laboratory training in botany this course served as an introduction to field work and became the vehicle for ecological training during the summers 1910-12, when a regular course in ecology was not given.

Plant Anatomy was a two-hour course established in 1915 by Gleason and Walter E. Rogers, and was enlarged to a four-hour course in 1930. Those who have given it are Holman (1916-17), Ehlers (1918), Bert E. Quick (1919), Nichols (1920-22), Gleason (1923), William Seifriz (1924), and Carl D. La Rue (1925 — ). A second course, Ecological Plant Anatomy, two hours, was given by C. D. La Rue in the summers 1926-35 inclusive. The latter course gave way to Plant Tissue Culture and Morphogenesis (1936 — ), also given by La Rue.

Plant Geography, a two-hour lecture course, was begun by Seifriz (1924) and was given after the first year by C. D. La Rue (1925-29).

Research. — From the very beginning, qualified students have been invited to undertake research on the flora and fauna of the region, under direction. Among the subjects offered in botany may be noted ecology (Burns), taxonomy and ecological relations of bryophytes and algae (Nichols), ecology of flowering plants (Gleason, Gates), taxonomy and distribution of flowering plants (Ehlers), plant anatomy, tissue culture, and morphogenesis (C. D. La Rue).

In zoology research has been offered in these fields: systematic and faunal zoology (Pearse), behavior of animals in relation to their environment (Pearse), evolution and behavior (Reighard), fishes (Reighard, Ellis, Smith, Francis Harper, and Charles W. Creaser), Sporozoa (Ellis), Oligochaeta (Smith, Welch), mollusks (Baker), insects (Welch, Ellis, Stoner, Metcalf, Matheson, Hungerford), sponges (Smith), arthropods (Hegner), birds (Strong, Stoner, Metcalf, Gross, Blanchard), amphibians and reptiles (Blanchard), parasitic worms (Cort, George R. La Rue, Thomas), aquatic organisms (Smith), mammals (Harper, Creaser), limnology (Welch), and natural history of invertebrates (Eggleton).

Graduate students, staff members, and visiting investigators have published no less than 450 scientific papers based on the fauna and flora of the Douglas Lake region during the years 1909-39, making that region well known to biologists of the world.

Personnel. — The Biological Station has developed under the directorship of six men: Jacob E. Reighard, 1909-14 (not in residence in 1910, 1913, and 1914); Arthur S. Pearse, Acting Director, 1910; Henry A. Gleason, Acting Director, 1913 and 1914, and Director, 1915; Otto C. Glaser, 1916; George R. La Rue, 1917-39; and Alfred H. Stockard, secretary, 1931-39, and Director, 1940 — .

It is impossible to list all the faculty members and give a full description of what they have accomplished for the Biological Station. A number of men taught for a single session, others for two or three, a few for many years. In general those who served the Station for long terms have made by far the greatest contributions to the development of research and teaching programs. Professor Reighard was in residence during three sessions only, but he exerted a profound influence on all aspects of the Biological Station program. He emphasized research, insisted that the courses be based on the fauna and flora of the region and that they be scientific, and set up the daily routine which has since been followed with only minor variations. Gleason (1911-15) developed a course in plant ecology and ecological methods. His branch of teaching and research has been ably carried on since his time by one of his students, Frank C. Gates (1916 — ). Frank Smith, of the University of Illinois, was a member of the staff from 1911 to 1914 inclusive and again during the summers 1919-22 inclusive. During his first period of service he developed courses dealing with invertebrates, and in the second period he took over vertebrate courses, which he ably conducted.

Faculty members who have served the Biological Station for many years and have made important contributions to teaching and research include Frank N. Blanchard, who had charge of the teaching in ornithology and of the research in both ornithology and herpetology in the years 1922-37; William Walter Cort of Johns Hopkins University (1915-16, 1927 — ), in parasitology; Charles W. Creaser of Detroit City College, now Wayne University, in ichthyology, herpetology, and mammalogy (1925 — ); Frank E. Eggleton (1929 — ) in limnological methods and the natural history of invertebrates; John H. Ehlers (1916-38), in systematic botany and aquatic flowering plants; Frank C. Gates of Kansas State College (1915 — ), in plant ecology; Herbert B. Hungerford of the University of Kansas (1923 — on leave, 1928), in entomology; Carl D. La Rue (1925 — ), in plant anatomy, plant tissue culture, and morphogenesis; George E. Nichols of Yale University (1920-38), in the taxonomy of algae and bryophytes; Lyell J. Thomas of the University of Illinois (1927 — ), who was associated with Cort in parasitology; and Paul S. Welch (1918 — ), in limnology.

George R. La Rue


Announcement of the Biological Station, Univ. Mich., 1909-40.

Announcement of the Summer Session, Univ. Mich., 1909-40.

"The Growth of the Summer Session."Mich. Alum., 23 (1917): 188-90.

Harmon, Lucie. "Life at the Biological Station."Mich. Alum., 16 (1910): 416-18.

La Rue, George R."Biological Station …"Mich. Alum., 36 (1930): 737, 747-48.

La Rue, George R."The University of Michigan Biological Station."Collecting Net, 6 (1931): 169-73.

La Rue, George R., , Peter O. Okkelberg, , and John F. Shepard. MS, "Jacob E. Reighard."In MS, "Minutes of the Meetings of the Faculty … College of Literature, Science, and the Arts," Univ. Mich., Apr. 6, 1942. 1940 — , pp. 834-40.

[News notes.]Mich. Alum., 15 (1909): 375-76; 16 (1910): 351-52; 29 (1922): 90; 33 (1927): 815; 39 (1933): 625; Mich. Daily, Mar. 25, 1910; Mar. 16, 1912; Mar. 23, Apr. 15, and May 18, 1919.

President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1920-40.

Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1896-1940.

Reighard, Jacob E."The Biological Station's First Year."Mich. Alum., 40 (1933): 5-6, 9-10.

"A Scientific Laboratory in the Wilderness."Mich. Alum., 31 (1925): 307-10.

Shull, A. Franklin. "Jacob Ellsworth Reighard."Science, n.s., 95 (1942): 344-46.

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey…Wilfred B. Shaw, editor, pages 761-769

History of the University of Michigan

Surveying Camp/Biological Station