Leader photo/JOHN EBY Scott King and Lisa Hamilton with glass bottles which came from Niles recovered in Buchanan as part of the McCoy’s Creek project.

Archived Story

Local treasure surfaces at McCoy Creek

Published 10:01pm Monday, September 24, 2012

Two glass bottles which left Niles decades ago have surfaced in Buchanan.

One originated with the New Niles Bottling Works.

The other, a returnable pint container shaped like a wine carafe, came from W.C. Rice Extra Good Milk and Cream. It is stamped with the date Jan. 11, 1914.

Scott King, president of Friends of McCoy’s Creek, and neighbor Lisa Hamilton brought them by the Daily Star Monday.

King, former member of the Buchanan City Commission, said the bottles were found during preparation work for $200,000 in improvements to rejuvenate the trout and salmon stream.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a lot of fishermen have always wanted that dam pulled out of there,” said King, explaining the dam impedes spawning fish. “We pulled four boards out of the artificial dam, lowering the level of the creek.”

When water rushed over sand and gravel in the duck pond, a “treasure trove” within the sediment, according to King.

“We’ve pulled out 4 1/2 pickup loads of steel products and 400 pounds of broken glass out of the duck pond area,” King said.

“We found tire lugs and bicycle and automotive parts, a Model T horn, barbed-wire fencing, a rusted Drewry’s cone-topped bottle and milk bottles from a Buchanan creamery. Clark (Equipment) was famous for the duck pond, which it used for fire protection.”

“It is so much fun to get in the creek,” Hamilton said.

“It’s like panning for gold, finding little treasures, like these bottles. It’s all about lost history. Who does not like history from your own town?”

Other bottles came from Mattoon, Ill., Cassopolis and St. Joseph, with some from as far away as North Carolina.

“We’re going to be hiring an expert,” Joe Mitchell of River Tenders in South Bend.

“It took us two years to get through the state and federal permitting stage and over six months to deal with FEMA because downtown Buchanan is in a floodplain. The City of Buchanan formed the seven-member McCoy Creek Watershed Committee. This project has been talked about since 1942.

“Pears Mill depends on a manmade canal, the millrace, for water. We have raised $60,000 to $80,000 of private money for this project. We have a limitation because, after October, trout and salmon will be coming up into McCoy’s Creek to lay their eggs.

“We can work in the artificial millrace, which hasn’t been cleaned out for 40 years at least, but the stream will have to wait until after April.

“Sediment will be excavated out of the millrace and a clay liner put in so water can get to the restored mill.”

King, who operates an import-export business, said when Friends of McCoy’s Creek was founded 20 years ago, an effort was made to clean the creek bed at that time. Sixty volunteers joined by busloads of 300 Andrews Academy students and teachers pulled out six tons of metal products, 500 tires and Canteen vending machines.

“We’re well over 960,000 pounds of garbage pulled out of McCoy’s Creek to date,” King said.  “I worked with Terry Truesdell’s boat and a gaff pulling out shopping carts when Riverfest started.”



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