Lilja Fund continues beautification work at Iron Mountain Chapin Pit


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – Work is continuing on a gazebo-picnic area located at the northwest side of the East Chapin Pit by the Lilja Fund.

“Though budding trees and spring flowers seem far in the distance, the August Lilja Memorial Trust Fund Committee is at work on the gazebo/picnic area at the Chapin Pit,” reports Marsha Bonicatto, chairperson of the Lilja Fund.

Smith Metal Structures Inc. of Iron Mountain, which has been contracted to build the gazebo, is adding some finishing touches to the structure.

The gazebo, designed by Coleman Engineering of Iron Mountain, using sketches and old photos provided by Bonicatto, is meant to suggest a mine shaft entrance.

Smith Metals is adding some siding, windows, and a pulley to the structure and also placing an old ore car and tracks on the grounds for added interest.

The pulley and ore car have been donated by the Menominee Range Historical Foundation.

The gazebo-picnic area is being constructed on a piece of city property where there is already a slab of concrete poured near the Hardee’s Restaurant at East Chapin Pit.

Once completed, an opening ceremony is being planned.

The August Lilja Memorial Trust Fund was established in 1999 by a generous donation of Madge Lilja in memory of her husband August Lilja.

The committee consists of three members from three local churches: Trinity United Methodist, First Covenant, and First Lutheran as stipulated by Madge Lilja. Committee members are Ruth Larson, Al Mendini, and Bonicatto.

Carol Dubuque of Livonia, niece of Madge Lilja, is also a consultant.

Since its inception, the fund has expended more than $400,000 toward various beautification projects in the city of Iron Mountain, none at taxpayers’ expense.

Some of the projects include restoration of the fountain at Cemetery Park, the statue at the south side of the Dickinson County Library, the sign, watering system, and landscaping at the entrance and exit of City Park, many landscaping enhancements at Iron Mountain Schools, including the concrete containers and benches; the maple trees on the Eastside playground, the lights for the Northside ball field, and currently the Chapin Pit cleanup and landscaping.

The Lilja Trust is also a major contributor to the bat cave walking trail.

“The Trust will continue for some years to work on the Chapin Pit area, but is happy to take suggestions from the people of Iron Mountain for future projects,” Bonicatto said. “Written ideas can be left at the city offices or with City Manager Jordan Stanchina.”

Theresa Peterson’s e-mail address is