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Tag Archive | "Michigan History Center"

How the Au Sable River changed the world


Becoming an Outdoor Woman (B.O.W.) flyfishing the Ausable River in the Rain

By CASEY WARNER, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

With the opener of Michigan’s trout season right around the corner, anglers soon will be donning their waders and heading out to one of the thousands of cold, quality streams that make the state a nationally known trout-fishing destination.

Perhaps the most renowned place to cast a fly in Michigan – the Au Sable River, running 138 miles through the northern Lower Peninsula – is significant for much more than its outstanding trout fishing.

In 1959, 16 fishermen, united by their love of trout and the Au Sable River and concerned about the need for long-term conservation of Michigan’s cold-water streams, gathered at George Griffith’s home east of Grayling.

“For some time I and several others have been considering ways and means to protect and preserve trout and trout fishing, and have come up with the idea of forming an organization to be known as Trout, Unlimited,” wrote Griffith, a member of the Michigan Conservation Commission, in an invitation letter to a fellow angler in 1959.

“Such an organization could work with state and federal agencies now charged with that responsibility … it would help educate the public on the dire need of sound, practical, scientific trout management and regulations to protect the trout as well as satisfy fishermen.”

The sportsmen that responded to Griffith’s invitation to meet at his cabin on the Au Sable believed that better and more scientific habitat management would improve the environment as well as the state’s trout population and fishing.

Encouraged by the work of Trout Unlimited, groups like the Anglers of the Au Sable have undertaken habitat restoration projects on the river.

Nearly 60 years after that initial meeting, the organization those fishermen founded – Trout Unlimited – has become a national champion of fish habitat conservation.

Today, the organization has almost 300,000 members and supporters, with 30 offices nationwide, and sponsors the International Trout Congress.

The Michigan History Museum in Lansing is showcasing Trout Unlimited’s founding on the Au Sable in a special exhibition, “The River that Changed the World,” open through July 29.

“The Au Sable River has influenced – and continues to influence – people around the world,” said Mark Harvey, Michigan’s state archivist and the exhibition’s curator. “The stories in the exhibition demonstrate the innovative and unprecedented ways private citizens and state government worked together to conserve and protect the river and sustainably manage its fish populations.”

Harvey said that the idea for the exhibit stemmed from the Michigan History Center’s longstanding relationship with, and eventual donation of materials from, Art Neumann, one of the cofounders of Trout Unlimited and its executive director from 1962 to 1965.

“Instead of just focusing on the Trout Unlimited group, we took a wider view of the river that inspired these people to work for systemic change,” Harvey said.

The Wolverine fish car, a converted railroad car, carried milk cans of fingerlings (young fish) to lakes and rivers all over the state from 1914 to 1937. Photo courtesy of the Department of Conservation./

The exhibition features George Griffith’s 24-foot-long Au Sable river boat and a re-creation of Neumann’s Wanigas Rod Shop, where he made fly rods considered works of art and became known as a champion of conservation.

A “battery” of glass beakers from the Grayling fish hatchery, each of which held thousands of eggs, highlights the late 19th-century work of state conservationists and private citizens who tried to save the Arctic grayling.

An iconic cold-water fish that once dominated northern Michigan streams but was almost extinct by the beginning of the 20th century, Arctic grayling were native only to Michigan and Montana in the lower 48 states.

“When sportsmen first discovered the grayling in the Au Sable, it drew international attention,” Harvey said.

The current Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative now aims to restore self-sustaining populations of the fish within its historical range in Michigan.

Original paneling and artifacts from the Wolverine fish car, which carried millions of fish by rail across Michigan, tell museum visitors the story of efforts to plant trout in the Au Sable.

Fred Westerman, one of the first employees of the Wolverine and former fisheries chief in the Michigan Department of Conservation, forerunner to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, once reported:

“Frequently… thirty cans of fish would be dropped off at some spooky junction – like in the jack pine at Au Sable-Oscoda with the cemetery across the tracks and the depot a mile from town – on the night run of the Detroit & Mackinac, to await the morning train going up the river branch.”

The exhibition also introduces the relationship between the Anishinabe (Odawa and Ojibwe people) and the Au Sable River and explores Grayling as a fishing and tourism hotspot since the mid-19th century. 

Current DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter applauded the vision and passion of those who recognized the Au Sable’s promise as a premier fishing destination.

“As the name of the exhibit implies, the Au Sable is a world-class fishery resource attracting anglers from every corner of the earth,” Dexter said. “It’s one of the most stable groundwater-influenced watersheds in North America, and produces exceptional trout fishing.

“It wasn’t always that way, though. Without the creation of Trout Unlimited at the Au Sable River, by those who understood the potential of our cold-water resources, Michigan might not be home to one of the world’s greatest trout fisheries.”

Trout Unlimited’s work has also encouraged other groups like the Anglers of the Au Sable, who now lead the charge for preserving this unique, high-quality body of water. Dubbed the “river guardians,” the Anglers group has fought multiple environmental threats to river.

The exhibit and related events also offer opportunities for hands-on experiences.

Visitors can learn how to tie a fly and compare tied flies to real insects under a microscope or sit in a kayak and take a 360-degree virtual reality paddle down the Au Sable.

They can also explore the essence of the Au Sable without leaving mid-Michigan through a series of museum programs revolving around the exhibit.

“While the exhibit focuses on the wonderful stories, images and sounds of the river, we wanted to bring the Au Sable River to the capital region,” said Michigan History Center engagement director Tobi Voigt. “We designed a series of programs highlighting themes from the exhibit – like fly-fishing and kayaking – that can be enjoyed by a variety of age groups. We’re especially excited to showcase a fly-fishing star and host our first-ever kayak tour.”

Programs include a fly-casting workshop with noteworthy fly-tier and fly-fishermen Jeff “Bear” Andrews, a kayak tour on the Red Cedar River, and the Second Saturdays for Families series featuring hands-on activities like making a compass, a sundial or a miniature boat.

To learn more about “A River That Changed the World” and to find Michigan History Museum visitor information, go to  www.michigan.gov/museum.

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Michigan Day: May 6 at the Michigan History Center 


N-Michigan-Day-icon

Celebrate real things, real places and real stories of Michigan

Michigan Day is a new twist on a tradition that began more than 60 years ago. On Saturday, May 6, the Michigan History Center in Lansing debuts a new signature event celebrating our Michigan pride. Michigan Day features free admission, special guests, activities, hands-on explorations, demonstrations and make-and-take projects highlighting the full range of Michigan’s diverse history.

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Michigan History Center, located at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in downtown Lansing.

Although Michigan Day is new, the idea behind it is not. In 1950, a group of Michigan business leaders formed a task force to promote Michigan as a great place to live and start a business. Michigan Week was born out of the initiative and first celebrated in 1954. The inaugural celebration ended with the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Mackinac Bridge.

Costumed docents will represent all eras of Michigan history and run hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.

Costumed docents will represent all eras of Michigan history and run hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.

“We are honoring Michigan Week’s original mission of promoting pride in all things Michigan with this new Michigan History Center signature event,” said Michigan History Center Director Sandra Clark. “Our focus is always on getting people curious about Michigan and sharing its history in new and interesting exhibits, programs and activities. Michigan Day brings an incredible range of stories together for a fun, one-day extravaganza.”

Michigan Day is made possible with the key contributions of Michigan History Center volunteers, said Sara Gross, Michigan History Center volunteer coordinator and engagement specialist. “Our volunteers work hard year-round to develop amazing educational tools; Michigan Day shows off their many talents and skills!”

Michigan Day will have a special focus on the 60th anniversary year of the Mackinac Bridge, a tribute to that first Michigan Week celebration. Visitors can take part in a family-friendly bridge engineering activity and see original documents from the Mackinac Bridge Commission. Other Michigan Day highlights include:

  • Explore the storytelling and cultural objects of Michigan’s First Peoples with special guests Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.
  • Watch a Civil War artist sketch scenes – and maybe even take a sketch home with you.
  • Meet with Rosie the Riveter to learn about steel pennies and the Arsenal of Democracy and even hear a song.
  • Celebrate the birthday of one of Michigan’s most famous rockers and vote on your favorite tune.
  • Try your hand at making old-fashioned radio sound effects.
  • Say ‘hello’ to the Lansing Flotilla of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and learn about safety on the Great Lakes.
  • Visit the Library of Michigan and try your hand at a family-friendly paper craft featuring the beauty and history of the Water Wonder Land.
  • Learn about the Detroit 1967 Project with the Detroit Historical Society.
  • Take part in more than 20 other hands-on activities celebrating Michigan’s unique past and present.

Free admission for all visitors on Michigan Day is courtesy of the Docents Guild & Associates, the 501(c)3 organization that serves the Michigan History Center volunteer program. The sponsorship is in memory of Bill and Marilyn Cochran. Bill was an original member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority and served there for 16 years.

The Michigan History Center and visitor parking are on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. Weekend parking is free.

The Michigan History Center’s museum and archival programs foster curiosity, enjoyment and inspiration rooted in Michigan’s stories. The center includes the Michigan History Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory.

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Celebrate Michigan’s 180th birthday with Statehood Day 


 

The Michigan History Center’s Statehood Day celebration Jan. 28 will include displays on Native culture.

The Michigan History Center’s Statehood Day celebration Jan. 28 will include displays on Native culture.

At the Michigan History Center Jan. 28

Join the Michigan History Center in Lansing Saturday, Jan. 28, to celebrate 180 years of rich and diverse Michigan history. Special guests and staff will commemorate the people who created our state, including First peoples, statesmen and eager citizens. Admission to the Michigan History Museum is free for the day, courtesy of the Michigan History Foundation.

The Michigan History Center’s special celebration, starting at 10 a.m. and concluding at 3 p.m., will include opportunities to:

  • Enjoy a slice of birthday cake while listening to folk tunes performed by violinist and ethnomusicologist Laurie Sommers.
  • Try out book-making and ink penmanship with special guests from the Library of Michigan.
  • Learn about Native culture and traditions past and present with Nokomis Learning Center.
  • Practice surveying with the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors Reenactment Group.
  • Participate in historic craft and trade demonstrations—make a corn husk doll, learn how wool becomes clothing and churn some butter.
  • View statehood documents, including Michigan’s first constitution, a letter from President Andrew Jackson and a rare manumission document.
Visitors will have a chance to investigate historic spices that would have been available to 1830s cooks as part of the Michigan History Center’s Statehood Day celebration Jan. 28.

Visitors will have a chance to investigate historic spices that would have been available to 1830s cooks as part of the Michigan History Center’s Statehood Day celebration Jan. 28.

For those who can’t make it to Lansing, some of these statehood documents are available to view online at seekingmichigan.org/discover/early-documents.

On Jan. 26, 1837, more than a year after Michigan adopted its first constitution and elected its first governor, President Andrew Jackson signed the bill making Michigan the nation’s 26th state. The delay was caused by a disagreement and subsequent “war” over the port-town Toledo. The compromise that gave Michigan the western two thirds of the Upper Peninsula shaped Michigan’s future of copper and iron riches, as well as timber and other natural resources.

The Michigan History Center encourages people across the state to celebrate the initiative of the leaders who first sought statehood, the compromise they made and all the extraordinary people who have built Michigan since then.

In recognition of this special 180th anniversary, the Michigan History Center will unveil several new digital education tools designed for schools, teachers and young learners. Statehood Day will serve as the public premiere for the new Mistories of Michigan video entitled “How Lansing Became the Capital.” Mistories of Michigan is a series of videos for school-age learners that aims to answer some of Michigan history’s most interesting questions. These videos are made possible, in part, by a grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation.

Attendees will also receive information about the new “Learn” section on SeekingMichigan.com. Still in development, this unique online portal will provide teachers and students with essential resources for studying Michigan history—classroom activity ideas, primary sources and maps, engaging videos, artifacts and more.

The Michigan History Center is located at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in downtown Lansing. The museum and visitor parking are on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. Weekend parking is free.

The Michigan History Center’s museum and archival programs foster curiosity, enjoyment and inspiration rooted in Michigan’s stories. The center includes the Michigan History Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/mhc.

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