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History’s Gem of the Month - January 2009

This month the Gems from the Past include three post cards. I am not sure how and why it occurred, but 100 years ago post cards were often printed showing members of local families. I have included two below of my relatives. My great-grandparents, Jonas and Anna Hill, appear in both pictures. The photo with just the two of them was taken in front of Woodland Park, around 50 feet east of the main entrance. Notice all the trees, as compared to the “Woodless Park,” as my son, Jonathan, now refers to it. My grandparents emigrated from Finland in the late 1890s. Two of their kids (Eino and Emil) were born in Finland. My grandmother Elvi and Uncle Ernie were born in the U.S. The family picture was taken before my Uncle Ernie was born. One thing interesting that I learned while examining these photos, and reading the handwritten information on the back, is that my family’s name before leaving Finland was Maki. I’m not sure why it is, but we were never told that information.

The Hill Family
The Hill Family

The third post card shows The Vacationland car ferry. This was one of the last two ferries that operated to shuttle vehicles between the lower and upper peninsulas. The state of Michigan began the car ferry service in 1923. It was successful enough, especially as the number of cars on the roads increased dramatically during the 1920s, that the state expended funds to upgrade the ships and improve the docks, breakwaters, and parking at both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Each ferry had a regular crew of 36, with up to a hundred extra employees hired during the busy summer months.

Mackinac Ferry

By the time the Mackinac Bridge opened for business on November 1, 1957, only two ferries remained including the Vacationland and the Petoskey. On the final day, the Vacationland sailed from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City with about a thousand invitation-only guests.

To pay for the Mackinac Bridge, bonds were sold to fund the project. The agreement that allowed the state to sell the bonds prohibited the operation of any ferries between the two peninsulas. This provision was made to assure bond buyers that the expensive bridge would have no competition. Eventually, all of the ferries were either sold or scrapped.

Today, the Mackinac Bridge carries as many people in a single month as the entire ferry fleet carried in a year. But if it were not for the hardiness of the ferry operators and crew, the Upper Peninsula would not be what it is today.

History's Gems Archives

May 2007
(The Telescope Story)

June 2007
(The Story of the Grand Marais "Meteor")

July 2007
(Hints on Hunting Glacial Agate Article)

August 2007
(Lake Superior Origin from 1957)

Fall 2007
(Tourist Information from the 1920s)

December 2007
(Lake Superior Editorial)

January 2008
(Grand Marais Tourist Signpost)

February 2008
(Unusual Wedding Invitation)

March 2008
(1915 Rules for Teachers)

April 2008
(Cedar Stump article from 1962)

May 2008
(Old Postcards)

June 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Proposal-Part 1)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 2)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 3)

October 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 4)

November 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal-Part 5)

December 2008
(Agate Leaflet from 1927)

January 2009
(Old Postcards)

February 2009
(Snowstorm Article from 1988)

March 2009
(Lake Superior Agate Poem)

Spring 2009
(History of M77)

July 2009
(Axel Niemi Photo)

August 2009
(Ship Travel on Lake Superior)

September 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates)

Fall 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates Part 2)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 1)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 2)

April/May 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 3)

June 2010
(Box of Rocks Gets Diploma)

July 2010
(Shipwrecks at Agate Beach)

August/September 2010
(1958 Detroit News Article about Axel Niemi)

Fall 2010
(Reprint from the Douglas Houghton Expedition)

Winter 2011
(Old Postcards and Pictures)

Spring 2011
(1905 Grand Marais Article)

September 2011
(Michigan Log Marks)

March 2012
(John Keating)

January 2012
(Axel Remembered)

March 2012
(John Keating)

June 2012
(The Shark: Post 1)

September 2012
(The Shark: Post 2)

March 2013
(The Shark: Post 3)

August 2013
(All That Glitters. . .)

November 2013
(Excerpts from The Grand Marais Herald)

April 2014
(Souvenir View Book of Sault Ste. Marie)

September 2014
(Michigan Beach Stones)

February 2015
(Michiganís Mystic Dunes)

June 2015
(Vintage Grand Marais Photos)

November 2015
(Gitchee Agomowin)

June 2016
(Grand Marais Poems)

March 2017
(Logging Era Photos)

July 2017
(Jonas Hill Letters)

December 2017
(Seagull (Lost) Island, Grand Marais Bay)

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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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