Landowners and students add bathrooms for visitors to Eben Ice Caves


The Eben Ice Caves are a winter wonderland for Michigan families. But the beautiful escape full of nature can be spoiled by a full bladder and no access to public toilets.

That’s why carpentry students at a local high school are working on building an outhouse for visitors to use.

Eben Ice Caves are located just outside of Marquette in the Rock River Wilderness of the Hiawatha National Forest.

To access the public caves, visitors park at and cross a private field. Private landowners allow people to do this for free and provide a portable toilet that people can use before starting the short hike to the caves.

However, due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the owners of the field were only able to secure four Porta-Johns this year, according to a Eben Ice Caves Facebook post.

This is where high school students come in. The owners have installed a large septic tank and the students will build two outhouse toilets for visitors to use. They should be completed at the end of January.

There is a donation bin on the site for visitors to support landowners, the post said.

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“Landowners allow people like you and me to walk across the field at no cost,” wrote. “If they ever stopped allowing that, the hike to the ice caves would be much longer. In addition, landowners now offer portable toilets in the parking lot for free. Show your thanks by purchasing a hot drink or snack from their concession stand if you can! “

Outhouse moons

The carved crescent moons in the outbuildings – including the one at Eben Ice Caves Post – are part of a centuries-old tale.

Although this is not proven, tradition says that moons were once carved in women’s toilets.

The story dates back to the 1800s, before literacy became mainstream, according to Atlas Obscura. Thus, people used symbols to denote toilets for women and men. While the women’s toilets were characterized by the moon, the men’s bathrooms had a sun or a star.

Holly Bollinger wrote in her book “Dependencies“that the designation is rooted in ancient symbolism.

“With the crescent moon signifying Luna or the goddess Diana, it became known as a female symbol, thus welcoming women,” she wrote. This may sound like a high reading of bathroom symbolism, but the moon has long been associated with a feminine aspect, and it is not unreasonable to think that it would have been general knowledge. “

Toilet shopping

An Upper Peninsula classic, the annual outdoor toilet race is one for the books. After all, there is nothing more in Michigan than putting an addiction on skis and hurtling down a hill.

The Trenary Outhouse Classic takes place each year during the last week of February. The 29th annual race will take place on February 26, 2022.

Each outbuilding is homemade and constructed from wood, cardboard, plastic, grand piano cases and whatever the artist can think of, depending on the race site.

Proceeds from the event are returning to the Trenary community, the website says.

“Some outbuildings are very simple and others are so elaborate that you might not mind having them in your own backyard! The outbuildings are being pushed one by one into the main street of Trenary,” the letter reads. website. “The riders (team) with the best time win a cash prize for 1st and 2nd place. Depending on the age there are 7 different categories and more prizes to be won which have nothing to do with speed. we’re going to. “

Contact Emma Stein: [email protected]


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