The Re-Wilding of Waterloo
As an example of the transformation, Hodgson describes the bygone Sylvan Estates Country Club, which catered to the elite on McClure Road before the Great Depression. "The Waterloo Recreation Area Headquarters was once the clubhouse with a manicured golf course surrounding it (there was even a small airport out there at one time), but not anymore--it's mostly woodlands today. The nineteenth hole was once called the 'Pavilion of Seven Lakes' because you could see seven area lakes from it. You can't see any lakes today; it is all forest."
Though much of the restoration work was unskilled, the Waterloo project also employed carpenters, plumbers, engineers, architects, and even professional photographers to document the progress of the job. "All had one thing in common--they were otherwise unemployed as a result of the Great Depression," says Hodgson.
Mill Lake Outdoor Center on Bush Road, the first camping facility, was erected in 1936 by the WPA. There were a total of twenty-eight buildings, including eighteen cabins for sleeping quarters, a dining hall and kitchen, an administration building, a pump house, and a boathouse. The center had capacity for 140 campers. In the fall of 1936, the first group to stay at Mill Lake was a gathering of boys from Detroit public schools.