A fieldtrip with Allan Bell

By Jed Buelow

Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor

Who said you have to be a school-aged student to take a fieldtrip? Especially now that many are hunkering down and practicing social distancing, it makes the perfect time to round up the family, put the learning caps on and head to Allan Bell Memorial Nature Trail for a family fieldtrip.

Sponsored by the Tomahawk Historical Society, the Allan Bell Memorial Nature Trail trailhead is located in the Tomahawk High School parking lot. Whether looking to take a fieldtrip or just enjoy some time in a scenic setting, the roughly one-mile looping trail provides something for everyone looking to get out and enjoy nature.

Created by high school students when the trail was dedicated back in 2017, a total 10 kiosks can be found along the trail providing insight about the land and the creatures that call this school property parcel home. One of the first kiosks visitors will see is the one that tells about Allan Bell and 30 years he wrote a Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader.

The insightful columns, like the one revisited in this week’s Tomahawk Leader, provide a unique insight into the natural world that Bell used to teach his readers to appreciate even more this beautiful place we are fortunate enough to visit and call home.

Other kiosks describe different habitats, wetland, wildlife and plant species that can be viewed along the route. They describe what kind of trees inhabit the forests and how succession will change an open field of disturbed land. Several handmade wooden benches located along the route encourage users stop, look and listen like the one located next to the pond. Those with youngsters or leashed pets should take note that currently beaver trapping is taking place along this portion of trail and might want to avoid the area.

A proud 1936 graduate of Tomahawk High, Bell spent his entire life in this place he was so proud to call home. The one exception was during World War II when he served as B-24 Heavy Bomber pilot, flying 39 missions in the South Pacific where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and earned seven Air Medals for his service.

Bell lived an extraordinary life before passing away in 2015. He was a rhubarb farmer, a teacher, a rock collector, built hundreds of bird houses and even found time to help the Tomahawk Historical Society – their annual award is called the Allan Bell Service Award.

Perhaps what this writer misses most about Allan Bell is how he approached every day and every subject with such youthful wonder. It inspired one to want to learn more about our natural world and is why people of all ages are invited to take a fieldtrip with Allan Bell at the Allan Bell Birch Bark Notes Memorial Nature Trail.

And as he liked to say, “To this Great Day!!! and Tomorrow.”

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