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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
 
 

Alpena County Michigan Historical Markers

 
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Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — A Shipbuilding Revolution
Shipbuilding forever changed with the transition from wooden hulls to those built of iron and steel. The first iron-hulled freighter on the Great Lakes, the Onoko, debuted in 1881. At 287 feet long, she was a giant of her day. Just five years . . . — Map (db m122196) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — L2103 — Alpena City Hall
Located on the Government Square, City Hall remains one of Alpena’s most prominent structures. In 1904 when the city council chose to construct the building of Bedford (Indiana) limestone rather than local limestone or concrete from Alpena’s . . . — Map (db m121900) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — L746 — Alpena County Courthouse
"Alpena has blazed a new trail in construction," architect William H. Kuni of Detroit declared at the opening of the Alpena County Courthouse on October 21, 1935. Calling it "the first monolithic building erected in a cold climate," Kuni designed . . . — Map (db m66795) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Bigger, Stronger, Faster
At the time of the U.S. Civil War, thousands of sailing ships worked the Great Lakes. Despite their impressive numbers, these sailing vessels struggled hardly able to keep pace with the enormous demands for bulk cargos generated by America's . . . — Map (db m122215) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Fast Steel Flyer: The Bulk Freighter Grecian
Launched in 1891, the Grecian symbolizes an era of unprecedented industrial growth and dramatic changes in technology. Newspapers heralded the steamer and her five sister ships as “fast steel flyers.” A marvel of efficiency at . . . — Map (db m126625) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Harbor Tug Ralph
In 1874, the 60-foot wooden harbor tug E.H. Miller began a 45-year career operating out of Alpena, escorting vessels on the Thunder Bay River and assisting those in distress. The tug was not without her own share of mishaps. In her first . . . — Map (db m122200) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — International Shipmaster's Association
The maritime professionals who sail the ships on the Great Lakes are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their fraternal organization, the I. M. S. A. whose purpose is stated in the Association's constitution, "The purpose of this association's . . . — Map (db m121889) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Propellers
The screw steamer or "propeller" first appeared on the Great Lakes in the 1840s. These vessels featured wooden hulls and shallow bottoms like early sidewheelers, but their steam engines powered one or more screw propellers at the stern of the ship . . . — Map (db m121898) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Research Vessels
For centuries explorers and scientists have researched the Great Lakes. As a vital transportation link to the Midwest and one of the largest sources of fresh water on the planet. Such important resources warranted scientific, charting and survey . . . — Map (db m122199) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Rising from the Ashes: The New Orleans
Life on the frontier Great Lakes was dangerous when the sidewheeler Vermilion went into service in 1838. In 1842, the 151-foot steamer burned to the waterline, killing several people. A year later, with immigration booming and the economy . . . — Map (db m122429) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Squeezing The Profit Margin
Sailing ships first appeared on the Great Lakes when French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle built the Griffon in 1679. By 1870, over two thousand sailing ships plied the Great Lakes. Most of these sailing ships were . . . — Map (db m122194) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — L990 — St. Bernard Catholic Church
In 1861 Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868) trod through snow and icy waters from Sault Ste. Marie to Alpena where he founded a Catholic church. However, it was not until 1866 that Father Patrick Murray became the first resident pastor of the church . . . — Map (db m121899) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Steaming Open the Frontier
Steam power first appeared on the Great Lakes in 1818. The earliest "steamers" were expensive to build and operate. Constructed of wood, the vessels had shallow bottoms and were powered by large sidewheels. For a time, these "sidewheelers" . . . — Map (db m121957) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — The Fletcher Coal Piers
In November of 1856, George N. Fletcher assisted a survey crew in laying the footprint for the city of Alpena. Appreciative of the area's dense forest and the Thunder Bay River's ability to help transport raw materials, finished products, and fuel, . . . — Map (db m122228) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — The Loss of the PewabicGreat Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail
The Civil War created an insatiable demand for copper. At a time when Michigan's Upper Peninsula produced the majority of America's supply, vessels like the Pewabic played a critical role in the war effort. On a typical trip between lakes . . . — Map (db m121896) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — The Third WardAlpena's "North" Side
Located across the river from where you are standing is an area known historically as Alpena's Third Ward. The first dwellings there were erected in 1858 or '59 at the river's edge, while the majority of the land remained woods and swampland. The . . . — Map (db m121894) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — The Ties That BindAlpena’s Second Avenue Bridge
From the time of Alpena's inception it was divided by the Thunder Bay River, although most of the community was centered on the south side. A wooden scow served as a ferry, connecting Second Avenue on the south side with Dock Street on the north; it . . . — Map (db m121890) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Thunder Bay Fishing Industry
The first known fishing camp near Alpena was established on Thunder Bay Island in 1835. By the 1840s, both Thunder Bay Island and nearby Sugar Island served as a base for the area's fishing fleet, comprised entirely of sailing vessels. In 1846, . . . — Map (db m121897) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Thunder Bay River Lumber Industry
From 1858 to 1926, Thunder Bay served as a major center of the Great Lakes lumber trade. Schooners and steamers shipped lumber around the Great Lakes and to eastern cities. Beginning in 1845, Thunder Bay Island also served as a "wooding," or fueling . . . — Map (db m121895) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Tragedy in the Mist: The Schooner E.B. Allen
Like other "canallers," the schooner E.B. Allen squeezed through the canals and locks of the Great Lakes. Crews tried to maximize the payload, and thus profits, using every inch of cargo space. The heavy traffic of thousands of sail and . . . — Map (db m122198) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Treaty of Saginaw
“By the Treaty of Saginaw, made at Saginaw [Saquina] September 24, 1819, by General Lewis Cass, Governor of the Northwest Territory, on the part of the United States, and the Chippewa Nations, Thunder Bay River became a part of the boundary of . . . — Map (db m121893) HM
Michigan (Alpena County), Alpena — Winter LayupsThe fleet during its “down time”
Shipping on the Great Lakes has always been seasonal. The poor visibility, heavy seas and ice that came each year with the gales of November prompted ship owners and captains in the 1800s to "lay up" their ships. Every winter ice choked docks and . . . — Map (db m121892) HM

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