The purpose of Wilder Creek Conservation Club is to protect and conserve the natural resources of our country and to educate future generations to become caretakers of our water, air, land and wildlife.
Wilder Creek was named for Oshea Wilder who was an early settler of the Marshall area. He and his wife, Cornelia, came to Marshall in1831. He was a land surveyor. The Wilders purchased land in Eckford Township. They later moved to the Lake Michigan area where he continued to work as a surveyor. They returned to Eckford Township where Mr. Wilder died in 1847.
On the Wilder Creek property is a railway bed that was part of the old Interurban line that ran between Marshall, Albion and Homer.
During the late 1930’s, the Wilder Creek Castle was built under the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The castle’s guiding force was James Brown of Stuart Lake, who designed the building reminiscent of a European castle he’d visited. The primary builder was James Brown of Lyon Lake. Originally, the structure was located near Concord, and it was dismantled and rebuilt at the Wilder Creek site.
The Evening Chronicle, Marshall, Friday, August 13, 1954 states,
“There are 100 tons of stone in the building, and it took 20 loads each hauling 5 tons of stone. In addition, stone was secured from the old mill foundation at Marengo, and the door and indow lintels were secured in Marshall from old curbing which was taken out and replaced with cement. Funds for purchasing the stone was (were) given by Harold C. Brooks, and plans for the building were drawn by Brown. A donation from Louis Brooks paid for the lumber and other material used in construction of the castle.”
Over the years, the castle has been a private residence, a haunted castle attraction during the Halloween season, and as the backdrop for the Renaissance Faire. By 1946, the Calhoun County Conservation Club was established. Later the name was changed to the Wilder Creek Conservation Club. The Marshall Bowmen, because of their affiliation with the conservation club, worked with existing club members to improve the club house which had originally been located at Fort Custer, Battle Creek, MI. The building initially served as military barracks.
Wilder Creek Conservation Club has had many “faces” throughout its history. One historical archive mentions that at one time, the club boasted 700 members and was used nearly weekly for family/community gatherings. In 1946, the club was directed by the Calhoun County Sportsmen’s Association. The Evening Chronicle, Marshall, Mi, Friday, August 13, 1954 notes: (In 1946 the) “idea of the group was to reforest some available land which had come back from (for) taxes, raise a number of pheasants, improve the Wilder Creek area, gain public access to lakes, organize fox hunts and have winter pheasant feedings.”
The same article goes on to say that in 1952, the club focus evolved to become the Calhoun County Conservation Club, concentrating more on conservation and family recreation. “The club’s membership is now well over 600, and officials hope to hit the 700 mark this year. The picnic grounds attract from 10,000 to 15,000 yearly and the area offers all types of recreation. It includes hillsides covered with undergrowth, a bird haven, archery and trapshooting area and a ball field.” Also in 1952, the club became incorporated with the State of Michigan as a non-profit corporation.
Today, Wilder Creek remains rooted in the mission of nature conservation and education, which is lived through meaningful relationships with the local community, Eagle Scout project collaboration, and more.
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