What I definitely like about local museums, assuming that they’re done right, is the fact that most usually highlight the industry, military installation or other reason responsible for the town’s growth. The Marinette Historical Museum, which lies right on the cusp of the Michigan – Wisconsin border, falls into that category. This low budget testament of Northern Wisconsin history sports some ginormous artifacts and scale model replicas of the late 19th century logging industry.
Marinette’s location, being situated at the mouth of the Menominee River, made it an advantageous spot for lumber processing. Logs would be floated down the river, and then lumber would be packed onto boats and shipped across Green Bay. The most significant era of Marinette’s lumbering prominence would have been from 1890-1900. During that Decade, according to multiple sources, the town doubled in size- topping out at almost 16,000 souls.
As I mentioned, the museum lies on the southern bank of the Menominee river, with only the span of the river keeping it from being part of Michigan. And when you walk in this place, you’ll feel as if you stepped into a community organization’s lodge. The elderly personnel tending to the museum are laid back, and also very helpful.
As for the museum, three quarters of the building has that ‘Grandma’s attic’ feel. Aged trinkets, clothing, machines and implements are cluttered together. And the categories of historical remnants vary widely. I found military items, regular household implements, farming tools, a telephone switchboard, firehouse artifacts….really, I could go on, like I said, they really packed this place tight. There is some order to what you find, but being that the place is super crammed, it just doesn’t feel like it.
Also, there’s not a lot of placards accompanying artifacts strewn about the museum. I feel I should mention, the placards that are in place hold very interesting information.
But, beyond all the cool relics I discovered, the thing that sets this museum apart from others is their collection of logging artifacts. And they come in all shapes and sizes. From a scale model lumber camp to a gigantic sawmill, you’ll gain an appreciation of turn of the century loggers.
I think visitors to this museum, especially those that know very little of lumbering, will be awed. There’s not a huge logging section, but it’s large enough to gain some knowledge and reverence. And, with everything else shoved under this small building’s roof, it was a lot of fun!