A community effort is underway to restore the historic Glen Arbor Cemetery. The cemetery, forgotten by many for years, is undergoing refurbishment and those buried there are finally having their resting place restored.
Following the damaging windstorm of 2015 that caused numerous downed trees across the property, Linda Dewey, now the chair of Glen Arbor Townships’ Cemetery committee, began her efforts to restore the cemetery and uncover information on those buried there. The cemetery, which held burials from 1879 to 1927, had been forgotten and had fallen into disrepair. After the Township owned the site for many years, it became the property of the National Park Service (NPS) when it was included in the purchase of surrounding land for Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. The NPS took on the maintenance of the site and access trail leading to it until the windstorm.
The NPS could not prioritize the clean-up project after the storm. So with the permission of the NPS, Dewey, and others throughout the community began efforts to restore the site. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail Crew joined the effort by working with the Cemetery Committee to maintain the trail that provides access to the cemetery from Forest Haven Road. The trail, originally cleared by NPS staff for use as a fire break, is now maintained by the Friend’s Trail Crew as even though ownership of the cemetery transferred back to the Township in 2021, the access trail remains on NPS property.
Others including local tree service companies contributed time and effort to clear trees and brush from the cemetery. In 2021, the Friends’ Trail Crew
did their part by raking the ruts left from the tree services’ heavy equipment to smooth the trail, and this summer, YouthWork volunteers will trim raspberry bushes along the Heritage Trail and the trail to the cemetery.
As the cemetery is restored, volunteers continue to uncover its history. Local students have taken on the task of discovering the stories of those buried in the cemetery. This year, Dewey’s team will also be using ground-penetrating radar to find unmarked graves while the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will continue to provide access to this fascinating site.
To visit the Glen Arbor Cemetery, look for the fire break near where the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail intersects with S. Forest Haven Rd. To volunteer with the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail Crew, visit our Volunteer Job Description page.
To support the upkeep of areas and trails in the National Lakeshore, consider donating to the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.