March 3, 1875: Mackinac National Park

The National Parks Traveler has a great article by Bob Janiskee titled
Pruning the Parks: Mackinac National Park (1875-1895)
that says (in part):

Though few people seem to know or care, Michigan’s long-ago abolished Mackinac National Park was America’s second national park. Yellowstone got there first, but not by much.

On March 1, 1872 President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law establishing that Yellowstone would forever be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Yellowstone thus became the first true national park in America and the world. What few people seem to know is that Congress created a second national park just three years later. Michigan’s Mackinac National Park, which existed from 1875 to 1895, is the “forgotten” national park.

…Despite a location well removed from the main population centers of the Midwest, Mackinac Island was well served by Great Lakes steamers and became a significant summer resort after the Civil War. The island developed a tourism-based economy and a reputation for being a “healthy” place (though not a cheap one) in which to relax and reenergize in scenic surroundings. By the late 1800s the island had acquired several large hotels and a number of large Victorian homes (called “cottages”) built by wealthy summer residents. The resident population remained small due to the harsh winter climate of the place. There were still only about three dozen residences on the island in 1895.

Island-born U.S. Senator Thomas W. Ferry (1827-1896), whose parents ran the island’s mission school, was concerned that Mackinac Island would end up in private hands and be subjected to development that would ruin its scenic-historic character and slow paced lifestyle. Not long after Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, Ferry began gathering political support for making a large part of Mackinac Island a national park as well.

It was tough going for several years, not least because Congress was loathe to spend money on parks and the island’s scenic and geologic attractions were not jaw-dropping wonders on a par with those of Yellowstone. Ferry finally prevailed, however, and Congress established Mackinac National Park with legislation that President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law on April 15, 1875. The enabling legislation was virtually identical to that used to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

This was a deal done on the cheap. Most of Mackinac Island was already federal property, and the park itself was small. Most importantly, Congress gave the park to the War Department to administer. That meant that soldiers from the Fort Mackinac garrison could be used for the requisite operation and policing of the park.

The arrangement actually worked quite well. The Fort Mackinac command gave serious attention to its park-related responsibilities, and although park superintendents irritated island business interests by nixing some inappropriate development proposals, islanders generally appreciated that their economic interests were best served by protecting the park’s scenery, geologic features, and historic landscape.

Mackinac National Park lasted just 20 years. In the 1890s the Army proposed to abandon Fort Mackinac, an action that would leave the park without a custodian. Alarmed at the prospect, Michigan governor John T. Rich petitioned Congress to turn the park over to the state of Michigan. This was done in 1895. Mackinac Island State Park, reportedly the first state-operated park in this country to be officially titled a “state park,” remains a Michigan state park to this day.

Read more at the National Parks Traveler and learn about this 1936 replica of Fort Holmes from Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Farewell, Jud Heathcote

Jud Heathcote, photo courtesy MSU Basketball

“Michigan State has lost one of its icons today. And yet nothing can erase his impact on the program, the players he coached and the coaches he mentored. Spartan basketball is what it is today because of Jud Heathcote.”
~MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo

Legendary Michigan State University basketball coach Jud Heathcote has passed away at the age of 90:

George M. (Jud) Heathcote coached the Michigan State men’s basketball team from 1976-95, guiding the Spartans to 340 victories, three Big Ten titles, nine NCAA Tournament berths and one national title during his 19 seasons in East Lansing.

Heathcote is the second-winningest coach in MSU history with a record of 340-220 (.607), including a 14-8 (.636) mark in the NCAA Tournament. His overall record was 420-273 (.606) over 24 seasons, including five years at Montana.

In his third season in East Lansing, Heathcote led Michigan State to its first NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1979 and won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1978 and 1979. During those two seasons, Heathcote had the opportunity to coach one of the game’s greatest players, All-American Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who propelled the Spartans to a 51-10 record in his two seasons at MSU.

A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (1978 and 1986), Heathcote coached seven All-Americans (Johnson, Gregory Kelser, Jay Vincent, Sam Vincent, Scott Skiles, Steve Smith and Shawn Respert) and 22 NBA players. Five of his players won the Big Ten scoring title a total of six times. During Jud’s tenure, MSU had at least one player among the first-team All-Big Ten selections in 12 of his 19 years.

Prior to his retirement, Heathcote ensured that the future of Spartan basketball would be in good hands. In 1990, he promoted assistant Tom Izzo to associate head coach, and fought for Izzo to be named his successor.

Read on for more and please share articles about him that you enjoyed in the comments!

Here’s a brief video on Heathcote from CBS Sports…

The Calumet Children’s March and the Keweenaw Miners Strike

Children’s Parade, Calumet Copper Miners Strike — RPPC by Calumet New Studio, Calumet, Michigan, photo by Wystan

Here’s a throw back Monday for you – a photo from July 23, 1913 of children marching in Calumet during the tumultuous miners’ strikes of 1913. It’s an interesting case study for our modern world given that the driver was the same driver that’s beginning to impact our labor market – automation. The excellent article Labor unions, strikes and violence in the Keweenaw: The Copper Miner Strike of 1913 – this is seriously great work by Frank Zawada’s descendent(s) – the says that there  had been strikes in the Keweenaw in 1872, 1874, 1890 and 1893, but they hadn’t turned deadly. And then:

Around 1910, the mining companies sought to cut back the expenses of mining, and they started to consider lighter machinery such as the J. George Leyner rock drills. Leyners drills were 154-pounds heavy, compared to the 293-pound drills then in use at the mines. Not only that, but the smaller drills could drill just as much as the larger drills but with only one person to man it, instead of two.

The mining companies tried these drills out with the miners, and it was pretty unanimous; the miners didn’t like the new drills. First of all, the men complained that the drills were still too heavy for one man to carry, set up and operate. Secondly, losing a drilling partner opened up safety concerns – who would watch out for the guy alone on the drill if something should happen to him in the loud, darkened mine? Third, but related to number two, was worker concern of being displaced to a lower-paying job or of losing one’s job altogether when the one-man drills became the standard.

Discontent brewed amongst the workers in the mines, and some miners refused to use the drills. Some got into fights with the management about the drills. And some miners walked off the job or were told to leave for disobeying the new rules. Before things could get too crazy, winter set in and so the miners calmed the labor unrest. By early 1913, tensions were running at maximum capacity between workers and the mining companies on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Read on for more about this strike that turned into one of Michigan’s most deadly labor struggles, including the Italian Hall Massacre of Christmas 1913 in which dozens and dozens of of these children lost their lives.

View the photo background big and see more in Wystan’s slideshow.

The River Grand

The River Grand, photo by John Rothwell

Wikipedia’s entry on the Grand River says in part:

The Grand River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It runs 252 miles (406 km) through the cities of Jackson, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Grand Ledge, Portland, Ionia, Lowell, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven. Native Americans who lived along the river before the arrival of the French and British called the river O-wash-ta-nong, meaning Far-away-water, because of its length.

As the glacial ice receded from what is the central Lower Peninsula of Michigan around 11,000 years ago, the Maple River and lower Grand River served as a drainage channel for the meltwater. The channel ran east to west, emptying into proglacial Lake Chicago, the ancestor of Lake Michigan. Today the Grand River rises in Somerset Township in Hillsdale County and Liberty Township in Jackson County, and flows through Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties before emptying into Lake Michigan. Its watershed drains an area of 5,572 square miles (14,430 km2), including 18 counties and 158 townships. Tributaries of the river include (beginning near river source and travelling downstream): Portage River, Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Bellamy Creek, Flat River, Thornapple River, Rogue River, Coldbrook Creek, Plaster Creek, Bass River, and Crockery Creek.

…Grand Rapids was built on the site of a mile long rapids on the Grand River, although these have disappeared after the installation of a run-of-river dam in 1866 and five low-rise dams during a river beautification project in 1927.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in John’s slideshow.

More Michigan rivers on Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT with the Oldest Ship on the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan … barge pushing, photo by Ken Scott Photography

Here’s a shot of a familiar vessel, the St. Marys Challenger. As this article on the conversion of the Challenger says, eventually, age catches up with you:

St. Marys Challenger lived up to its name by defying that assertion longer than its counterparts. But after 107 years, the laker was taken out of service in November 2013 to be converted to a barge. Built in 1906, Challenger was the oldest operating freighter on the Great Lakes.

The decision to convert the 551-foot cement carrier followed a series of upgrades spanning several decades, including extensive hull rebuilding, installation of a self-unloading cargo system and a myriad of other structural upgrades. In the end, the owner was left with a Skinner Marine Uniflow four-cylinder reciprocating steam engine burning heavy fuel oil, outdated DC electric and an aged mechanical propulsion system that made operating the boat an ever-increasing expense.

…Port City Marine, based in Muskegon, Mich., considered its alternatives, including retrofitting Challenger with a diesel engine. Not only would that have cost about $20 million — nearly double the barge conversion project — but it would have saddled the company with ongoing expenses. And while a crew of 25 was needed to operate Challenger, the articulated tug-barge (ATB) can operate with 11.

Read on for lots more!

View Ken’s photo bigger on Facebook, follow Ken Scott Photography on Facebook and visit kenscottphotography.com to view & purchase photos!

View from the Smithy at Greenfield Village

Americana N°2, photo by Remus Roman

As we’re gearing up for summer, it’s a great time to think about Michigan’s many incredible museums. One of the coolest is Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. They explain that the origins of Greenfield Village were with Henry Ford himself. His obsession to recreate his childhood home was a resounding success and:

…after several other restorations of buildings at their original sites, he began looking to create a village that would represent the early days of America up to the present. Working with Ford Motor Company draftsman and architect Edward L. Cutler, Ford began laying out plans for Greenfield Village.

It wasn’t meant to represent any specific place in the United States, or even serve as a particular town – Ford created Greenfield Village primarily from buildings that he had purchased and moved to the site, organizing them around a village green with a courthouse, a town hall, a church, a store, an inn and a school. He placed homes along a road beyond the green. He brought industrial buildings, such as carding mills, sawmills and gristmills to the village and made them operate.

Today, Greenfield Village is organized into seven historic districts, with real working farms, a glassblowing shop, a pottery shop and more…so that, just like Henry Ford when he surveyed his preserved birthplace, you, too, can be transported to another place and time to learn about the ordinary and extraordinary people who shaped America.

Click through for a whole lot more.

View this photo of the Smithy at Greenfield Village background bigilicious, see more in Remy’s slideshow, and also at remyroman.com.

Lots more history & museums on Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT Happy 100th Birthday to the Michigan State Police

State of Michigan State Police, photo by glory be me

 

A belated happy 100th birthday to the Michigan State police, who are 100 years and a day old today:

Since April 19, 1917, the Michigan State Police has proudly served the citizens of Michigan. From a cavalry of 300 men to a full-service police agency of more than 2,900 members, the Michigan State Police has proven itself as a world-class leader in law enforcement.

The Michigan Department of State Police began as a temporary, wartime emergency force for the purpose of domestic security during World War I. On April 19, 1917, Governor Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force, (also known as the Michigan State Constabulary). With Colonel Roy C. Vandercook as the first commanding officer, this new force consisted of five Troops of mounted, dismounted and motorized units, totaling 300 men. On March 26, 1919, Public Act 26 reorganized the Constabulary as the permanent, peace-time Michigan State Police.

Michigan adopted a new Constitution in 1963, authorizing up to 20 departments. Public Act 380 of 1965 reorganized the Michigan Department of State Police as one of these departments. The Director holds the rank of Colonel and is appointed by the Governor.

Today, the Michigan State Police consists of a modern-day force of law enforcement professionals, using the latest up-to-date training and technology to protect the citizens of Michigan. What was once a cavalry of 300 men now has evolved into one of the leading police agencies of the United States.

View the photo of what I believe is a 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car background big and see more in glory be me’s Untitled Set slideshow.

More #TBT (Throwback Thursdays) on Michigan in Pictures.

Detroit’s Immigrant Workers

Immigrant Workers, photo by Ryan Southen

3 out of 4 people in 1910 were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Wow. Ryan shared this photo on Facebook and wrote:

I stumbled upon this stone along the riverfront this afternoon. This region is what it is today because people came here seeking opportunity, or refuge and we are absolutely better for it. Something to ponder the next time you find yourself discussing immigration.

As the descendent of immigrants to the Detroit area, I completely agree. Crain’s Detroit Business has a nice feature by about how foreign-born workers have been an integral part of Detroit’s history, economy. It says in part:

Detroit once was the third-largest U.S. settlement for immigrants, said Kurt Metzger, the retired founder of Data Driven Detroit who spent nearly 40 years compiling information and statistical analysis locally.

“In 1930, the foreign-born accounted for almost 30 percent of Detroit’s population. The data show that more immigrants settled in Detroit between 1900 and 1920 than any other city but Chicago and New York,” Metzger said via email.

“The makeup of Detroit — European (Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, etc.) was heavily influenced by the national quota system that either forbid certain groups (Asians, for instance) or maintained extremely small quotas.”

The second, much broader and more diverse wave of immigration began around 1970 after Washington relaxed the quota system on a wide variety of groups, he said.

“We began to see large flows of Chaldeans from Iraq, Muslims from Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East, Asians from Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Albanians, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans,” he said. “Since that time, we have added, through war and displacement, Hmong, Cambodian and Vietnamese, Chaldeans, Syrians, Yemeni, and many more.

…Foreign-born workers and their families helped swell Detroit’s population to nearly 2 million people at its 1950 peak.

Ryan doesn’t have this pic on his Flickr, but you can see a lot of great shots from Detroit and elsewhere there and by following Ryan Southen Photography on Facebook.

Muse Monday: The Muses of Michigan’s Capitol Dome

offset-michigan-capitol-dome

Offset, photo by DetroitDerek Photography

A highlight of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing are the eight muses that ring the Capitol dome. During the latest restoration, it was learned that they were painted in the late 19th century by Italian artist Tommaso Juglaris. Michigan’s Otherside relates the story of the Mysterious Painter of the Michigan State Capital Muses:

The paintings are absolutely gorgeous, and for years, historians believed they might have been the work of Lewis Ives, an artist who has other pieces in the Capitol. Then, in 1992, a visitor named Geoffrey Drutchas entered the building, looking for works by a nineteenth-century Italian artist. Drutchas’ inquiry led to an investigation that ultimately revealed the paintings’ true creator. But more on that later; first, a quick background on how the muses became a part of the Capitol in the first place.

The current state Capitol opened in 1879. For the first few years of its existence, the Capitol’s walls were bare, as the state couldn’t spare any money for artwork. Eventually, the state had extra cash, so the legislature commissioned William Wright, owner of a Detroit decorating company, to handle interior design duties. The Capitol’s architect, Elijah Myers, said that he wanted allegorical paintings (in other words, paintings whose subjects look like one thing, but represent something else) to appear above the Capitol rotunda. That’s how the Capitol ended up with its muses. At first glance, the women in the paintings that Wright delivered to the Capitol are simply figures from Greek mythology; however, if a viewer looks at the paintings closely, he or she finds that each muse holds or is surrounded by items that represent a specific aspect of Michigan’s economy and culture.

Read on for more, and also see State Capital historian Kerry Chartkoff’s lecture on Michigan’s Capitol: Muses, Memoirs at Michigan State University.

View Derek’s photo bigger and see more in his Cities other than Detroit slideshow.

 

 

March 3, 1875: Mackinac National Park & Fort Mackinac

old-fort-mackinac-from-pasture-field-macinac-sic-island-mich

Old Fort [Mackinac] from pasture field, Macinac [sic] Island, Mich., courtesy Library of Congress

“Mackinac is a place largely visited by people from all parts of our country, and I take it from many foreign lands. A National Park is established on the island and I think the military post should be made not only comfortable but attractive.”
-Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs

It’s a birthday of sorts for Mackinac State Historic Parks which is a treasure trove of our colonial history. The page from Mackinac Parks on Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park explains the birth of the park and how one forward thinking officer may very well have created the model for historical preservation in the park that holds so much of Michigan and the nation’s cultural history:

After Congress created Yellowstone in 1872, Senator Thomas Ferry introduced legislation to create a second park on Mackinac Island. In addition to the island’s attractive history and natural features, the U.S. government already owned much of the island as part of the Fort Mackinac military reservation and the soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac could act as caretakers. As a result, the park would cost almost nothing, which Ferry knew appealed to the tight-fisted Congressmen of the 1870s. After two years of campaigning, President Ulysses Grant created the Mackinac National Park, the second park in the country, on March 3, 1875.

The park made Mackinac Island even more attractive to Midwestern visitors, and brought changes to Fort Mackinac, where the commanding officer became the park superintendent and a second company of soldiers joined the garrison. The Army finally performed some long-overdue repairs at the fort … Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs believed that “the fort itself is to the public one of the greatest curiosities within the lands of the park,” and required the fort’s commanding officer, Major Alfred Hough, to repair the post’s aging blockhouses. Although the blockhouses served no military purpose, Meigs knew that they were “among the few relics of the older time which exist in this country,” and believed that “there would be a cry from tourists” if they were destroyed. Fort Mackinac thus became as much a part of the national park as the island’s natural curiosities.

…On September 16, 1895, the last soldiers formally transferred Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park to the state. Although the national park ceased to exist with this transfer, the state immediately created the Mackinac Island State Park, which continues to welcome thousands of Mackinac Island visitors every year.

You can view the photo taken somewhere between between 1880 and 1899 bigger and see more great old Mackinac Island photos in this Mackinac Island slideshow from the Library of Congress.

Lots more from Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures!