GPS: 45.02782N, -084.56309W
The period of early logging in the hills of the Jordan River Valley were marred by several fatal accidents.
The last known and best recalled tragedy took the life of twenty-one year old Samuel Graczyk, known as "Big Sam." A fun loving lumberjack soon to be married, Sam became legend on May 20, 1910 when he was killed while driving a team and big wheels loaded with logs down a steep slope at this site. The high point, with its commanding view of the valley, has since been known as "Deadman's Hill."
The sign located at Deadman's Hill reads: "The period of early logging in the Hills of the Jordan River Valley was marred by several fatal accidents. The last known and best recalled tragedy took the life of 21 year old Stanley (Big Sam) Graczyk, a fun loving lumberjack soon to be married. He became legend on May 20, 1910 when he was killed while driving a team and big wheels loaded with logs down a steep slope near here. Anthony (Tony) Wojciechowski who was with Big Sam when he died is responsible for the accurate recounting of this legend. This high point, with its commanding view of the valley, has ever since been known as "Deadman's Hill."
Historical researchers in Mancelona dug a little deeper to find out more information on Deadman's Hill and Stanley Graczyk. Death certificates identify Samuel Graczyk born May 5, 1887 in Germany to John Graczyk and Agnes Popech. He died May 21, 1910 at the age 23, unmarried. Cause of death indicates he was "run over by wheels loaded with saw logs. Killed in the woods; accidental." He was buried in Elmira, Michigan. It is believed that the first name of the man who died at Deadman's Hill is actually Samuel Graczyk, not Stanley. We are presently working on this mystery to find out why the sign reads "Stanley" instead of "Samuel," and will post our findings when we know.
As you venture to Deadman's Hill, you'll see a pathway along the wooden fence that provides visitors with a variety of angles and locations to view the valley below. When the sun is just right, the Jordan River waters below will sparkle and catch your eye.
The Jordan Valley below is an 18,000 acre block of state owned forest land, located in the northeast portion of Antrim County. An 18-mile long hiking trail, containing several loops of varying lengths, makes its way through the valley. A variety of wildlife, flowers and trees can be observed in this beautiful area.
While beautiful year-around, this is one location your fall color tours must include. Picnic areas are available throughout the Jordan Valley, and public restrooms (pit toilets) are located near the parking lot.
Hunting and fishing are permitted in the state owned areas.