Gilkey Creek flowed through this area long before the Motts bought the surrounding land in 1915 to use as pasture for their cows. It rose and fell with the rainfall but caused few problems in those early years.
From Cows to College
C.S. Mott stopped farming in 1949 and, in 1952, donated the pasture and $1 million dollars to what is now Mott Community College. Years later, Mott said, "I used to look out my front window and see six cows. Now I look out and see 7,000 students. I think I made a very good exchange."
On the Rise
At some point, planners diverted Gilkey Creek through a quarter-mile-long underground culvert which caused frequent flooding and damaged the creek's ecosystem. Below, an Applewood staff member paddles past the chicken coop during a 1985 flood that nearly submerged the rose arbors, left.
In 2008, the Ruth Mott Foundation completed a project to restore the creek and reduce flooding. The project included a land swap with Mott Community College and creation of a large wetlands meadow with native plantings.
Today the creek runs as freely as it did when the Motts moved to Applewood!