Flyover: Chinnery Rollway, Amber Township

October 26, 2022

Flyover: Chinnery Rollway, Amber Township

MI Travelogue by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

AMBER TOWNSHIP — The light just before sunset tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 26, was just amazing. The dark clouds that had been looming the last two days finally made their way east as the sun shone from the west onto what is left of the fall colors. I was in Ludington but had been scouting Conrad Road the past few days. I made my way east of Stiles, slamming on the brakes a few times looking for the right spot to stop and launch the drone. I kept going until I got nearly to the end. This was the spot. I made a call to Pete Conrad, who owns and farms most of the land in that area, and asked if he was OK if I flew the drone over his land and he said sure, but I had better hurry before I lost the light.

I had been eying Pete’s asparagus field (leased by Springdale Farms) on Gordon Road just north of Conrad Road. The golden color of the ferns is just spectacular. But, the timing wasn’t right. I’m hoping to get back out there earlier in the day on Thursday. Instead, I turned the drone to the south to check out the Chinnery Rollway along the Pere Marquette River.

Chinnery Rollway was once an important asset to Mason County’s lumber industry. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, the steep cliff was used to roll freshly cut logs into the Pere Marquette River. The logs would then be floated downstream to Pere Marquette Lake. The rollway is located on private land on the Conrad farm, near the end of West Conrad Road where it intersects with Gordon Road in Mason County’s Amber Township southwest of Scottville.

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Editor’s Note: Believe it or not, it’s legal to fly over people’s land because the air is not owned by anyone, but is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. I believe that asking permission is the right thing to do. I also believe that filming their property is something that certainly requires permission. Through the years, as a photographer, I have found myself in the moment with the right lighting or conditions when I had to get the picture (like of a barn or a field), but I would then try to let the owner know that I had been there. The drone opens up another layer that certainly requires professionalism and just common courtesy.)

An additional note: Through my company Media Group 31, owner of Mason County Press, I am available for drone services and other professional photography services. Contact me via email at or call/text 231-757-3202 for more information. 

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