Deadman's Hill – Elmira, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

Deadman's Hill

Elmira, Michigan

This scenic overlook commemorates the tragic death of a soon-to-be-married lumberjack. 


Stanley “Big Sam” Graczyk was driving a team hauling a big wheel of timber logs on this steep Michigan hillside on May 20, 1910, when tragedy struck. He was crushed to death when he stumbled and was overrun by the big wheel loaded with saw logs.

Big Sam was not the first tragic death of a lumberjack in Northern Michigan, but he may be the last and the best known, perhaps partially because he was soon to be married. Ever since he perished, this scenic overlook has been known as Deadman’s Hill.

The historic sign at the site mistakenly indicates Big Sam was 21 when he died, though his death certificate indicates he was 23. There is also some confusion on why the sign refers to him as Stanley, when his given name was Samuel. He is buried in St. Thomas Cemetery in the nearby town of Elmira.

Today, the 1,329-foot elevation overlook provides locals and tourists with a panoramic view of the 18,000-acre Mackinaw State Forest and the beautiful Jordan River Valley situated some 400 feet below. 

Know Before You Go

Parking is available at the site. Please note, the road is not plowed in winter.

The site also serves as the trailhead for a three-mile loop hike to the river valley and back, including trail connections to the approximate 4,600 miles long North Country National Scenic Trail, Michigan’s state-long Iron Belle Trail, and the 18-mile Jordan Valley Loop Trail

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