Central Upper Peninsula

Fort Wilkins

Flagpole in front of Lake Fanny Hooe at Fort Wilkins

Fort Wilkins is a historic military outpost located in Copper Harbor at the northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula. It was established in 1844 by the U.S. Army during a time of increased tensions between miners and the local Ojibwe people in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is known for its rich copper deposits. The fort was named after Secretary of War William Wilkins. The Army built 27 structures, including a guardhouse, powder magazine, 7 officer’s quarters, two barracks, two mess halls, hospital, storehouse, sutler’s store, quartermaster’s store, bakery, blacksmith’s shop, carpenter’s shop, icehouse, four quarters for married enlisted men, stables, and… Read More »

Michigan Rail Ferries

SS Landsdowne carrying passenger train cars in 1905.

We wrote about the Michigan Car Ferry System that primarily took cars across the Straits of Mackinac last week. While researching those ferries we discovered that there were ferries that transported railcars. We touched on it a little last week with the Chief WaWatam that would transport the railcars across the Straits.  Michigan State Car Ferries, also known as the “Michigan State Railways,” had a significant role in the transportation history of the Great Lakes region. Operating primarily during the early to mid-20th century, these ferries were responsible for transporting railroad cars across Lake Michigan between Michigan and Wisconsin. The… Read More »

Chappee Rapids

Chappee Rapids Area

Between 1670 and the early 1800s the Menominee River Basin was visited by Explorers, missionaries, and fur traders. They passed by on the water route of the Menominee River and Green Bay. Journals of the seventeenth and early eighteenth-century explorers talk about a small Algonquin tribe in the Menominee River Basin. They were known as “The wild rice people.” The explorers talked about a tribe of 40-80 men living in a village at the mouth of the river. By the early 1800s The Menominee numbered about 500 and lived in numerous villages scattered throughout Wisconsin. Stanlislaus Chappieu In 1794 on… Read More »

Escanaba Michigan

Escanaba is a city in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, located on the northern shore of Lake Michigan. It was founded in the 1840s as a fur trading post by Eli P. Royce and later developed into a logging town. The city’s name is derived from the Ojibwe word “iskanaba,” some say it means “flat rock”, others say it translates to “land of the red buck” Port Town An American settlement that began as a port town and was founded in 1863. Escanaba’s port played a vital role for the Union Army during the Civil War. Escanaba was a shipping… Read More »

Germfask, Michigan

Germfask Michigan

Germfask is a small unincorporated community in Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula. The area is known for its natural beauty, particularly the nearby Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Germfask was founded in the late 19th century and was named after the eight original settlers of 1881. Using the first initial of each’s surname: John Grant, Matthew Edge, George Robinson, Thaddeus Mead, Dr. W. W. French, Ezekiel Ackley, Oscar (O.D.) Sheppard, and Hezekiah Knaggs. The community was a station for the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad and is situated in the middle of a large tract of land known as the… Read More »

Don’t Forget The Fudge!

Michigan Fudged

Ever wonder how Fudge became a staple Up North? Atlantic City is known for Saltwater Taffy, Maine for Lobster and New Orleans for Beignets. Many tourist areas have their own specialty that you have to try when you visit and take some home for later. Northern Michigan is known for many things, the views, pasties, the dunes, wine, craft beer, and so much more. There is one common treat found in almost every town up north and that is fudge. You will find many local candy/fudge shops where you can watch the fudge being made, enjoy a sample, and buy… Read More »

Northern Michigan Gold Rush

Gold Panning Sign

Did you know that there was a gold rush in Northern Michigan in the late 19th century? Gold was left throughout the state waterways when the glaciers moved across the entire state during the last ice age. Small amounts of gold can be found in just about any creek or river in Michigan. According to the US Forest Service, gold has been found in over 100 places in Michigan. Gold has been found in the Manistee, Au Sable, Flat, Little Sable, Rapid, Yellow Dog and other rivers and on countless Great Lakes beaches. Rivers and lakes are not the only… Read More »

Ishpeming Historic Ski Center

Ishpeming - Historic Ski Center

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the small mining town of Ishpeming in Marquette County. With vast deposits of iron ore throughout the area, the town thrived and grew in the 19th century. Walking through the town you see evidence of that history everywhere. Ishpeming is also known as the birthplace of organized skiing. Besides being a thriving mining town Ishpeming was also becoming a hot spot for snow skiing. In the 1870s and 80s the first ski-jumping tournaments in the U.S. were being held in there. Skiers seeking thrills started doing ski flying. This is different from ski jumping where… Read More »

Central Upper Peninsula Hauntings

Central Upper Peninsula Hauntings

Join Northern Michigan History in our 5 part series as we explore the most haunted places in northern Michigan. This is our 4th installment in the series is finding ghosts in the Central Upper Peninsula. We didn’t have to go far, there are plenty of strange happenings in the Marquette area and beyond! Marquette Old City Orphanage – This Catholic orphanage was originally known as the Holy Cross Orphanage and was built in 1915. The orphanage has a long history of abuse, both physical and mental by the nuns that ran it. The orphanage last resident was in 1967 and… Read More »

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