The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Davis Engineering Camp

Before 1874 all University surveying instruction had been given at Ann Arbor. Professor DeVolson Wood had repeatedly requested establishment of a camp for advanced work in surveying. In the spring of 1872, when his requests were not granted by the Regents, Wood resigned.

He had six instruments at his disposal in 1871. These had been acquired from year to year since the early 1850's, when the first course in surveying was offered. A Buff and Berger transit 177 and a Gurley transit without number, a Green transit theodolite without number, a Stackpole level, an Eckel and Imhoff 178, and a Buff and Berger dumpy level were acquired prior to 1865. Four compasses and a Burt solar had also been acquired before 1865. An aneroid barometer manufactered in Philadelphia was purchased during the early 1860's, a Würdemann transit theodolite in 1871, a Page  1594Blunt transit in 1879, and Eckel and Imhoff transits 301 and 879 in 1873.

Joseph Baker Davis came to the University in 1872. The surveying camp was established by Davis in 1874, and the first session, attended by twenty-four students, was held at Whitmore Lake, Washtenaw County, in May and June of that year. The Clifton House provided food and shelter. An Eckel and Imhoff plane table and two Philadelphia rods were purchased in 1874. Davis had no assistants. The camp continued to run for four weeks during May and June of each year until 1900. From 1900 through 1908 the period was six weeks, and in 1909 became eight weeks.

Among the sites used for the camp in the early years were Thornapple Lake, Barry County; Simpson Lake, Crawford County; Village Green, Unadilla, Livingston County; Clear Lake, Jackson County; Maple River, Clinton County; Appleton's Lake, Livingston County; Old Mission, Grand Traverse County; Clam Lake, Antrim County; Frankfort, Benzie County; Carp Lake, Leelanau County; Fountain Point, Carp Lake, Leelanau County; Glen Lake, Leelanau County.

In February, 1908, $2,500, or so much thereof "as might be necessary," was appropriated for the purchase of a camp site for the surveying class in the field and $1,000 for moving the camp and fitting it up for use. The President named Regent Carey and Professors J. B. Davis and M. E. Cooley a committee to select the site.

In June, 1908, the following letter was received from Colonel and Mrs. Charles Bogardus, presenting to the University 1,400 acres of land at Douglas Lake for the consideration of $2,500 appropriated by the Regents. This sum was so small in relation to the size and value of the land, that the site has always been regarded as a gift:

Pellston, Mich., June 3, 1908

Hon. Henry W. Carey, Regent of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan:

My Dear Sir — After thinking over the matter of the needs of the University of lands, water frontage, etc., having certain essential requirements as expressed so clearly to Mrs. Bogardus and myself at our house last evening by Dean Cooley, Professor Davis, and yourself, and that in your opinion we have lands possessing all these requirements, and the further examination of those lands today proving, as your Committee tells me, that said lands are exceptionally well adapted — in fact, as they say, "ideal for purposes needed by the University"; and realizing that benefits to these young people will be of lasting value to themselves, to this and to the other states and countries they represent, and that the "cherished hopes" of your Committee may be realized for the acquirement of about fourteen hundred acres, mapped by them today, as their desideratum, and that the good work you contemplate may begin at once with ample grounds, therefore, Mrs. Bogardus and myself will accept your appropriation of Twenty-five Hundred Dollars in part payment, and it gives us great pleasure to ask you to kindly accept from us, as a gift to the University, the difference between the Twenty-five Hundred Dollars and the real value of this property.

You insisted that a value should be placed upon the property, which we much dislike to do, it being largely a gift. However, we should think approximately Twenty-five Thousand Dollars would be a low value for it; a part of it would not be priced or disposed of at all for other purposes…

Very sincerely yours,

Chas. Bogardus

Hannah W. Bogardus

Thus, the University acquired 1,441 acres in T. 37 N., R. 3 W., in Cheboygan County, on Douglas Lake. On motion of Regent Hill, it was voted that this property be named The Bogardus Engineering Camp of the University of Michigan.

In October, an additional sum of Page  1595$1,100, making $2,100 in all, was appropriated to move the camp from Burdickville to Douglas Lake. The Board appropriated $2,500 for the purchase of additional land desired in the development of the camp in January, 1909. In July, 1914, Regent Hubbard reported that he had secured options on five hundred and twenty acres of land adjoining the camp.

The President's Report for 1920-21 reported:

The Douglas Lake region is as favorable for field work in surveying as it is delightful in its climate. The tract of 3,200 acres, situated between Douglas and Burt lakes, affords with its hills and valleys, partly in woods and partly in clearings, excellent opportunities for practice in land, railroad, and canal surveying, and coast, geodetic, and topographic work. It is planned to add other parcels of land which will extend the tract completely around the east end and along the north shore of Douglas Lake; and further embrace Burt Lake to the east and west of the University's present shore line. These additional lands should be acquired as early as possible to prevent their occupation by summer residents, and to give the greater scope desired for the work without trespassing. During the past nine years permanent improvements have been made at Camp Davis having an estimated value of $7,244. As the labor involved was contributed by staff and students, the cost to the University has been only the $698 expended for materials. Through the camp fee of $10, which goes to the support of the camp, equipment amounting to $6,719 has been purchased. Thus the plant, exclusive of land, has cost to date in direct outlay $15,637; or, including staff and student labor (contributed), $22,881…


(P.R., 1920-21, pp. 191-92.)

In 1916 the name of the camp was changed to Davis Engineering Camp in honor of Joseph Baker Davis. At the March meeting of that year the Board voted that hereafter the lands owned by the University between Douglas and Burt lakes should be designated as the "Bogardus Tract." In the same year the sum of $3,750 was set aside for the purchase of 750 more acres on Douglas Lake adjoining the camp.

In 1928, Professor C. T. Johnston, who had been in charge of the camp since 1912, with Professors Carey, Brodie, and Bouchard, went to northwestern Wyoming under instructions to select a new site for the camp. Such a site was found in the valley of the Hoback River, seventy-five miles south of Yellowstone National Park. A complete report was presented, and the Regents approved the purchase of 120 acres of the land in February, 1929, for $2,500.

During the spring recess Bouchard, McFarlan, Young, Bonin, Johnston, and six student assistants went to Douglas Lake, where camp equipment was crated and shipped to Victor, Idaho. The twelve students who attended arrived in June. Instruction was delayed for two weeks in order that the students might assist in construction. During the summer fourteen buildings, all 14 by 14 feet, the keeper's house, a kitchen, dining room, the instrument room, a shop, and a storehouse were completed. A connecting road was built and a water system, a modern sanitary system, and a power plant were installed.

From 1938 to 1951 the field work in surveying and in geology was united at Camp Davis. Since 1951 instruction in geology has been limited to engineering geology.

In 1940 two new buildings were constructed, a residence cabin and a large laboratory and recreation building measuring 28 by 40 feet, named Johnston Hall. Three additional cabins were built in 1947.

In 1949, $4,000 was appropriated for necessary construction work and other items needed for the successful conduct of the camp. In 1950, $4,000 more was appropriated to provide funds for operating Page  1596expenses during the summer of 1950, $1,500 of this amount to be used for surveying equipment, $1,500 for geology equipment, and $1,000 for refrigeration.