I was on a mission as a I left the Ludington Beach House - to see the historical markers of Ludington. Never before in all of the history of mankind has a more noble goal been attempted! And I, for the most part, accomplished this goal. Mostly, sort of.
If you find yourself at the corner of South Lavinia Street and East Danaher Street, they you are either a local Ludington resident (a Ludingtoner?) or you're looking for this church. It's tucked away in an ordinary neighborhood a few blocks north of the water. There, a brief look at the history of Christian Scandinavians is revealed. That's the great thing about these historical markers, the hints of what made Michigan of what it is today.
During the 1870s and 1880s, Ludington Swedes, Danes and Norwegians worshiped together as the Scandinavian Lutheran Society. In 1873 the society built a church where all three languages were spoken. The Swedes, who had formed their own congregation on August 3, 1874, assumed sole ownership of the building in 1887. in 1901 they built the present church, designed by local architect Charles Boerner.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not only blessed with plentiful waterfalls, pasties, and moose. No, it also has plenty of lighthouses, as the one we visited in Escanaba, Sand Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse, first lit in 1868, sits on Sand Point which juts Little Bay de Noc, a bay on the north edge of Lake Michigan. The lighthouse is tourable (my own word, you're welcome), if you're there during the summer months. If you're there in the winter months - well, stay warm.
If you are one of the fortunate ones to be enjoying a wonderful summer vacation in the western U.P., you can examine the lighthouse's museum, and climb to the top for a view of the surrounding bay. Or a view of Ludington Park and enormous Harbor Tower Apartments, the only building rising about the tree line - the U.P. version of a skyscraper.
From 1868 to 1939 the Sand Point Lighthouse warned mariners of the spit of land extending into Little Bay de Noc at the entrance to Escanaba Harbor. The U.S. Congress authorized construction of the lighthouse in 1864, shortly after the first railroad began hauling iron ore from the mines to docks at Escanaba. The newly appointed keeper, John Terry, died just before the opening of the light, so his wife, Mary, lit the lamp for the first time on May 13, 1868. Mary Terry served as keeper until March 1886 when she died in a mysterious fire at the lighthouse. In 1939 the new crib light began operating in the harbor. From 1985 to 1990 the Delta County Historical Society restored the lighthouse and tower.
For most of us, Keweenaw County is quite a ways out of the way to visit. But on a trip to the U.P., we made a drive down the beautiful M26, which runs along Lake Superior, passing through Eagle River and Eagle Harbor on its way to Copper Harbor, the farthest point of civilization in Michigan.
Eagle River has the advantage of having a waterfall in the middle of town, and a very photogenic one at that. Situated between the Eagle River Museum and the falls is the Eagle River historical marker. It, like the waterfall, is right out in the open and easy to find. The marker talks about two of my favorite topics, beer and Cornishmen.
The first you can probably understand, but Cornishmen? Well, we wouldn't have pasties if we didn't have Cornishmen - they were the ones that brought that miner's food for England for all of us modern tourists to enjoy.
In 1843 the Lake Superior Copper Company purchased several land leases for mining. Two year later the Cliff Mine, alleged to be "the first great copper mine in the Western Hemisphere," was opened by the Pittsburgh & Boston Company. The mines attracted large numbers of Germans, Cornishmen and Irishmen and gave rise to other industries. On August 29, 1846, the Lake Superior News and Miners' Journal boasted that Eagle River had "the appearance of a thriving village." In 1850, Prussian immigrant Frank Knivel opened the Knivel Brewery, and in 1862 the Eagle River Fuse Company was established southeast of here on the river. The company manufactured 25,000 feet of fuse per day for user in the mines. In 1861, Keweenaw County was set off from Houghton County and Eagle River became the county seat.