It would have been back in the late 1950s that the creek emptying Little Arbor Vitae Lake became the site of a movie set.
One summer day a large panel truck equipped with ladder racks and ladders drove in to the Blue Island Resort grounds. Several young people entered the resort store for refreshments.
Glyn Roberts, Sr., the resort proprietor, learned from the group that it was a filming crew assigned by a sub-contractor to Disney Films to work down at the creek.
In the weeks following their arrival, crew members would return to share their daily filming experiences over a cold drink and chips. The theme or storyline was centered around an otter who left the creek site for adventures elsewhere but eventually returned.
Considerable effort was devoted to developing the filming site. A Mr. Long from the Sayner area was hired to dismantle a small log building, number its parts and reassemble it adjacent to the creek. A wooden waterwheel of weathered wood was added within the creek bed.
The crew worked alternatively between the creek mill site and Wiltsies’ Aqualand Wildlife place near Boulder Junction, WI.
The creek was an ideal location for photographing the various fish and animals featured in the story.
One of the crew’s unique filming strategies was an arrangement in which a water proofed camera placed in the creek would capture a blue heron spearing a yellow perch.
The perch was held in a clear plastic box and the heron was secured in place until the filming had been completed. The contractor assigned to the project had rented various animals to be incorporated into the story.
One rented animal was a red fox. A few years ago I wrote a story entitled “The Fox that got away?” which follows in part and is directly related.
The otter in the story begins its journey from the mill where the water wheel remains still, and the film follows the animals’ adventures forward until it returns. At that point the waterwheel once again begins to turn.
During the filming process, the fox under a rental contract from a firm that supplied trained animals for special effects, had escaped.
Meanwhile, over at the Semsch family cabin located less than a quarter mile from the mill site, Grandpa Semsch saw a fox in his garden. With advancing age and diminishing eyesight, Mr. Semsch felt the need to prove his marksmanship skills for his grandchildren.
With careful aim and just one shot from his .22 rifle, Grandpa Semsch dropped the fox in its tracks.
Later in the afternoon, the panel truck arrived at the resort and a very frantic driver emerged asking, “Has anyone seen a fox around here?” He further explained to various guests and my dad that this was a very special and valuable fox for which he was responsible.
The next day, grandson Carl came to the resort store for a quart of milk. He was anxious to tell Dad about his grandfather’s shooting skill.
My Dad was never able to share that information with the cameraman and he never knew if it was that very special fox that Grandpa Semsch had shot.