Dyer Kiln Ruins and Keehne Natural Area, Bellevue
We recently profiled the Bellevue Gothic Mill in one of our roadside attractions posts, and today we turn our attention back to Bellevue and two more easy to visit attractions. The 1800s mill was a great historic site to visit, but it is not the only place in this small village with historical significance. On the west edge of town you can visit the Dyer Kiln Ruins, then go hiking through the Keehne Natural Area that sits on the locations of the quarries that provided limestone for the kiln.
The Dyer Kiln Ruins can be found on Sand Rd., and while the site is fenced off you can still get good views and an idea for how big this operation once was. “The park contains the remains of the third successful lime kiln to be operated in this area. The first was built west of the Dyer location along the Canadian National Railroad tracks by a Mr. Holden. A second was built east of this location on the same land that would later be used by Michigan Alkali and others in the processing of limestone. Of the three, the Dyer Kiln is the best preserved and the only site accessible by road. The Dyer Kiln was built in approximately 1880 and ran until 1899.” (from http://www.bellevuemi.net/) The kiln was used to burn limestone used in the production of cement. The Michigan State Capitol building is one of of the buildings still standing that had limestone ash from this site used in the mortar holding it together.
The parking area for the Keehne Natural Area is just south of this site on the opposite side of the road. There is a small parking area, and from there you will see the boardwalk that signifies the start of the trail. While only a mile long, the trail can be quite scenic.
Several other remnants of the former industrial operation can be seen through the trees here. We visited in the late fall but it was easy to imagine what this beautiful area would look like in the spring with birds and other wildlife enjoying the water and trees. About half of the trail is boardwalk, the rest is on grass and leads to a parking area and small park off of Williams Rd. This is an easy trail that should not be a problem for most people though a pair of good shoes or boots would be helpful in wet conditions. You can get a look at a trail map at https://www.michigantrailmaps.com/member-detail/keehne-environmental-area/.