- Updated: 12 July 2017
The Upper Peninsula has witnessed a lot of history since it became part of Michigan in 1837, and much of it can be seen near Escanaba. Here are seven historical attractions within 50 miles of the 2017 International Rally:
You can begin right in Escanaba with the Sand Point Lighthouse and Museum, operated by the Delta County Historical Society. Escanaba became an important Lake Michigan port early in the 1800s. The Sand Point Lighthouse was built in 1867 to help keep ships off of the sandbars of the Little Bay de Noc. Ironically, the appointed lighthouse keeper, John Terry, died just before the lighthouse was completed and his wife, Mary Terry, took over the job, becoming one of the first women lighthouse keepers.
Thirty miles up the road in Hermansville is the IXL Historical Museum, commemorating the logging industry in the UP. The main building was the 1878 headquarters of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company, a manufacturer of millwork such as windows, doors, and flooring. Their trademark was IXL in a circle, signifying “I excel”. The museum contains artifacts of the company’s operations and life in the town that the company supported.
A little farther up the road in Norway, Michigan is the Jake Menghini Historical Museum, displaying various aspects of life in the town of Norway over the last 125 years. Jake started collecting “stuff” as a child in the early years of the 20th century, and when he passed away he willed it to the city, so they had to open the museum!
The City of Iron Mountain has three signicant museums all by itself. Two occupy adjacent buildings, the Cornish Pumping Engine Museum and the World War II Glider and Military Museum.
The Chapin Mine in Iron Mountain was the largest producing iron mine on the Menominee Range in the late 1800s, but it was also the wettest, requiring the removal of four and a half million gallons of water per day. For this purpose the company ordered a Cornish pumping engine from the E. P. Allis Company.
This proved to be the largest reciprocating steam engine ever built in the United States. It is on display at the Cornish Pump and Mining Museum, along with a variety of mining equipment. The reason the WW II Glider and Military Museum is located in Iron Mountain is not so obvious until you know the story. Henry Ford had a large presence in the UP at the time of World War II, and was interested in the mass production of aircraft. The US needed thousands of cargo gliders for airborne operations, and Ford adapted a plant in the nearby suburb of Kingsford to the manufacture of CG-4 gliders. The plant built more than 4,000 of the nearly 14,000 produced, more than any other factory.
The third Iron Mountain museum is the Menominee Range Historical Museum housed in the former Carnegie Public Library. It contains several exhibits portraying daily life in the area, from the Menominee tribe up to the mid-20th century.
In future issues, we will consider other UP historical sights more distant, in the hope that you will have time to range farther afield before or after the International.
Jane Carmichael, #3230 and John Sellers, #1587
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