SHORELINE STRUCTURE

This photo of the USG loading bin – which is located one mile offshore from Alabaster Township, in Lake Huron – was taken last spring. The structure is a well-known shoreline sight but, due to safety concerns, the aging marine bin will be taken down this summer. 

ALABASTER Twp. – With recent activity going on at a well-known structure in Alabaster Township, the rumor mill began churning last week over the removal of the USG marine bin.

While the rock bin is still scheduled to be taken down this summer, in the interest of safety, it hasn’t been removed – just yet.

In a year marked by various cancellation notices around the state and the nation, USG confirmed in a May 29 press release that it will proceed with the removal of the company’s iconic rock bin, located one mile offshore from Alabaster in Lake Huron. 

The project has been approved by state and federal regulators, and the work is being contracted through Ryba Marine Construction of Cheboygan.

“While our marine bin has been a familiar waypoint on the Lake Huron shoreline for many decades, it has been out of use since 2000,” said USG Plant Manager Matt Craig. “We are aware there are many in the community who have asked that the structure be left in place, but the fact is, time and the elements have taken a toll. For safety reasons, it’s time to deconstruct the building.”

Craig notes that the first step is cleaning up decades of bird waste on and around the structure, to address health concerns while the project gets underway.

USG representatives advise that the construction schedule has been impacted by weather and COVID-19 related issues, but this first stage is set to begin any time.

As temperatures increase, crews will be visible from the shore, working throughout the summer. The project is expected to be completed later this year.

As part of an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USG will document the deconstruction of the historic structure for archiving purposes. Images will regularly be shared on the company’s local page, at www.usgalabaster.com.

As reported last April, the removal of USG’s off-shore loading bin was to start in 2020. Those from the company pointed out that the residents and visitors who enjoy seeing the structure would have one last season to appreciate it.

According to USG, the aging bin – unused for the last 20 years but prominent in shoreline photos dating back to its construction in 1928-29 – was approved for removal last March by state and federal authorities. 

“Lots of people have told us they love the way the marine bin looks along the shoreline,” company representative Matt Huss stated at the time. “It’s got a lot of history, and we realize it is part of the collective memory of this community. But when you see it up close, you quickly realize why it needs to come down.”

When USG formed in 1902, the Alabaster Township quarry was a fundamental source of high-quality gypsum for its operations. The marine bin was constructed to deliver gypsum to large freight boats, which transported it around the Great Lakes and to USG’s River Rouge operation.

Huss said the process for removing the bin will require on-site deconstruction, with the materials transported to a barge, then delivered to waste haulers on shore to  dispose of the items appropriately. 

He encouraged those who enjoy viewing the structure to take photos and capture some last memories. However, the public is reminded to stay off of the bin itself. “The reason we are removing it is because it is no longer safe to have in place.”

USG Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, serves construction markets around the world with wall, ceiling, flooring, sheathing and roofing products. 

As reported, gypsum from the Alabaster Township site supports large manufacturers and farms throughout the state, as well as its own manufacturing operations. USG has quarried the product from the Alabaster operation since the company was founded. Gypsum is used for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from construction to food processing and agriculture.