Local author to be honored in Kentucky for book on Stearns.

November 11, 2016
Mike Nagle

Mike Nagle

Local author to be honored in Kentucky for book on Stearns.


Local author and professor Michael Nagle is going to be honored today by the Kentucky Historical Society for his recent book: “Justus S. Stearns: Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933.”

“I am honored to receive this award,” Nagle said. Bob Gable, the great grandson of Justus Stearns, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, will attend the event as well as Nagle.

The legacy of Justus Stearns runs deep in Ludington and the surrounding area. At the turn of the 19th century, Stearns was Michigan’s largest producer of manufactured lumber and the owner of a prosperous coal mining operation headquartered in Stearns, Kentucky, a town he founded. Over the course of his career, he would own at least 30 manufacturing businesses — making everything from finished lumber to kitchen utensils, game boards and motors — as well as hotels, a railroad and a power company.

Over 100 years later, Stearns is still a common name in Ludington. Each year, thousands of people spend time at Stearns Park, one of the best free public beaches in the Great Lakes. The Stearns Motor Inn, once known as the Stearns Hotel, continues to operate on the east side of downtown. Up until the late 1960s, the Paulina Stearns Hospital, was the area’s primary health care facility.

Stearns also owned lumber and coal operations in southern Kentucky, based in a town named after him, Stearns.


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