From stand pipe web site to winter recreation Mecca, Diggins Hill has had fairly a historical past | Information


CADILLAC – For those who have lived in Cadillac long enough, the idea of ​​sledding becomes synonymous with one place – Diggins Hill.

For many years, Diggins Hill has been one of the most popular sledding spots in the Cadillac area. It’s steep enough to give riders some thrills, and safe enough for sled riders of all ages.

However, it’s not just the great sledding that Diggins Hill has been known for over the years.

The early history of the mound is intertwined with the early history of the city’s waterworks system.

According to Cadillac News records, in 1893 WW Cummer was granted a franchise to provide Cadillac’s water supply for 30 years.

As part of this project, the old wooden pipes used to carry water through the city were replaced with iron pipes, and a large water standpipe was built on one of the city’s highest elevations, which was kept filled with water at all times to keep it in front to protect against accidents on the water pumps or the engine.

That same year, Cummer made an informal proposal that the city donate the land immediately surrounding the new water tower for a public park on the condition that a good gravel road be built to and around the park. Later, Cummer and the Diggins family—several members of whom were involved in Cummer’s lumber business—donated a significant amount of land on the town’s highest point near the old water tower, which became known as Standpipe Hill and later Diggins Park.

The standpipe at Diggins Hill was later abandoned and the structure was reportedly demolished for scrap during the First World War due to a lack of metal.

In the decades after the standpipe was removed, the park underwent a number of improvements to make it an attraction for outdoor recreation, including skiing, sledding, sledding, and tennis.

Some of the biggest changes at the park took place in the 1920’s when the Cadillac Winter Sports Association was formed.

The association appointed special committees to advance various projects in the city, including the straightening of Diggins Hill so that it can be used for both skiing and sledding.

“The city has already approved the closure of portions of two roads not used for winter traffic, giving Cadillac one of the best natural sledding and skiing locations of any city in the state,” reads an article in the Cadillac Evening News dated October 12, 1927, when work was just beginning.

A toboggan slide was built as part of the project. This slide was used for at least a dozen years and was very popular. A large wooden structure was erected on Diggins Hill, near where the hill for a ski lift was later built. Sledders could bring their toboggans to the top of this icy wooden-sided ramp, place their toboggans in a gully, and take a big turn north, ending on Plett Street. Speeds of up to 75 miles per hour have reportedly been reached by sledders on this slide.

In January 1929 the first Winter Carnival was held in Diggins Park. The event included a queen, sledding, skiing, snowshoeing with hockey at Lincoln’s ice rink.

This event lasted several years and was a big deal in the city.

“By all appearances, Cadillac has its share of snow sports enthusiasts and snow sports fans, if the number of people, both young and old, who turned out for the carnival parade and program on Saturday afternoon in a bitter south-easterly wind is any indication,” reads the The Cadillac Evening News reporting the event in 1931. “From Mitchell Street where dog racing and the parade led to the activities, to Sled Hill where the crowning of the Winter Queen, sledding, coasting, snowshoeing and skiing took place, and finally to the Lincoln Rink, where a grand march and ice skating closed the afternoon program, truckloads of enthusiastic citizens followed to watch and applaud.”

In the 1930’s a small ski jump was built in the park along with a large hockey rink which was lit up at night for evening games. The city’s toboggan run was also repaired after repairs and several dangerous curves were eliminated.

By November 1937, more extensive plans were underway.

The ice rink at Diggins Park has been expanded from 40,000 square feet to 57,000 square feet. About 15,000 square meters were occupied by the hockey rink.

A former railway freight car was procured and used as a shelter. A small concession stand was built at one end.

In 1938 the toboggan run was shortened a bit because the uphill part had gotten worse.

In the 1940s, the Cadillac Youth Recreation Association conducted an expanded ski program at Diggins Park, improving the hill, installing an early drag lift with the help of Caberfae, and later constructing another drag lift a little further west.

In 1959, Diggins Park was equipped with an electric ski lift, slopes were leveled, and lights were installed for nighttime operations.

In 1965 a new warming house with flush toilets was built at Diggins Rink. That same year, snowmobiling was banned at Diggins Park after reports that the vehicles were being used to ride the ski slope and ice rinks, a situation that could endanger the safety of a skier or skater using the facilities.

The ski lift operated occasionally due to the volunteer efforts of Harold Bassett, who spent his free time from the Cadillac Fire Department operating the mechanism. Hilbert (Hy) Elenbaas of 220 E. North St. volunteered to overhaul the warming buildings at the rink.

The mound was recontoured in 1967 and new poles, a towing house and modern towing equipment were commissioned in 1968.

Over the years, some features of the park fell into disrepair and were eventually removed, including the ice rink, toboggan slide, tow ropes, and other skiing infrastructure.

The tennis courts survived, although these also showed significant signs of wear and tear in the 2000s.

In 2007, a group of citizens met with city officials to discuss a plan to revitalize Diggins Hill. Organizers were prompted in part to update the park by their memories of skating, skiing, sledding, and tennis as children.

In October of that year, the aptly named Diggins Hill Committee was declared the city’s official committee. At the same time, the city began keeping an account with the money raised for the project.

“Obviously there is a lot of support for the project, and now that the council has made it a formal committee, staff will be focused on supporting the project,” Cadillac City Manager Pete Stalker said at the time.

The first phase of the plan was to rehabilitate the tennis courts, and in 2010 the Cadillac City Council voted 4-0 to accept a $126,000 offer from window maker Asphalt and Paving of Big Rapids to do just that.

Funding for this project came from donations from the Weidner family, the Cadillac Area Rotary Club, area residents, the City of Cadillac, and others.

At the time, additional plans for the park included the installation of an electric drinking fountain, a weatherproof enclosure, portable toilets, landscaping, and signage. Other potential developments included a bark park and disc golf course.

In 2011, it was announced that the Cadillac Kiwanis Club would donate up to $10,000 towards the construction of the disc golf course.

The course, which was completed this summer, features 18 baskets, 4 sets of 8 tees and nine pedestal-mounted bins.