Go Back in Time with the Michigan Historical Museum

If you’re one of the many Michigan hunters or outdoor enthusiasts hitting the  woods this season – likely decked out in scent-control clothing and equipped with a smart phone, GPS unit and other gadgets – can you imagine a time when outdoor gear meant simple survival necessities like a reliable compass, a well-designed knife or a waterproof matchbox? 

The Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing takes a trip back to that time with a new exhibit about the Upper Peninsula’s greatest inventor you’ve probably never heard of – Webster Marble – and the outdoor products he perfected and manufactured right here in Pure Michigan.

The “Inventing the Outdoors” series takes us back to the start of the last century, when people started to see the outdoors as a place to relax and enjoy themselves. At the same time, Webster Marble started a company in Gladstone, Michigan, that would eventually outfit hunters, anglers, campers and hikers around the world.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Take an up-close look at artifacts including safety folding axes, many models of unique hunting knives, automatic fish gaffs, and the famous Game Getter gun in this exhibit that explores Marble’s genius for innovation. Marble owned more than 60 patents, and his designs set the standard for the 20th century in outdoor products such as knives, compasses, match boxes, axes and gun sights. His Michigan-made products became known worldwide and were even used on Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting trips, Robert Peary’s expeditions and Charles Lindbergh’s flights.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Inventing the Outdoors” also gives you a chance to examine your own outdoor experiences and lets children experience life in the Michigan woods 100 years ago. You can get creative by building a lean-to, singing songs or telling stories around a fire pit, giving shape to your ideas at a “makers” innovation table, and sharing your outdoor experiences through drawing or writing.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Catalog

The second Saturday of every month, the Michigan Historical Museum will feature family activities related to innovation. For more information on the popular “Second Saturdays” program, go to www.michigan.gov/museum.

And be sure to visit the Michigan Historical Museum on Facebook for behind-the-scenes exhibit and artifact photos, and personal stories of outdoor life.

Have you ever visited the Michigan Historical Museum? Share your experience with us below!

Exploring a Shipwreck on a Drummond Island Off-Roading Adventure

Today, guest blogger Christian Anschuetz from Modern Explorers tells the story of how his group of thrill-seeking adventurers came across a shipwreck while on an off-roading adventure on Drummond Island.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

With everything that progress has brought to our modern world, it’s refreshing to know that there are still places on the planet that remain pristine.  Perhaps surprisingly, Michigan brims with more places like this than many expect, and our group of would-be adventurers, true modern explorers, seek and discover these hidden gems.

Our crew of ten men and women has made it their mission to find these often wild and remote places in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.  From the northern shores of the Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw, to the great National Huron and Manistee Forests, they have visited ancient copper mines, followed in the footsteps of Au Sable lumbermen, camped in the ruins of abandoned ghost towns, and most recently, visited the historic Drummond Island.

Here’s the story of how we discovered a well-known, but rarely visited shipwreck, on our latest adventure.

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A summer squall rages across Lake Huron.  Strong winds whip the air and the surf into a frenzy, punishing all in its path.  Today’s victim would be a sturdy steamer that was once the largest vessel to travel the Great Lakes.  But neither her size nor her steadfast crew could protect her from the wrath of Mother Nature, which forced the Agnes W aground.  It was July 3rd, 1918 when the Agnes W crashed into the rocky shoreline and sank.  Nearly a century later, my team and I find ourselves staring at her well-preserved wreckage as we look to the south from Traverse Point on Drummond Island.

Locating the Agnes W on a map was a simple task, but making our way to the wreckage was another matter altogether.  Drummond Island is a beautiful, rugged place, and the path to the sunken ship was long, narrow, and harrowing.  While the off-road vehicles we took down the trail were up to the task, the drivers were tested after just a mile of navigating the sand, mud and stone.  We shared a deep sense of accomplishment as we exited our vehicles at the shoreline and began the hike toward where the Agnes W broke upon the rocks.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As we walked the last quarter mile to Traverse Point, our curiosity grew with every step: What would we find?  Two hundred yards from our destination our group made its first discovery: a massive beam pierced with wrought iron stakes lay upon the shore.  This large piece of debris had to belong to the Agnes W, so with sharpened eyes we moved forward, finding more and more of the wrecked ship along the way.  By the time we arrived at the tip of Traverse Point, we were surrounded by artifacts.  Less than 40 yards away we could see the well-preserved hulk of the steamer peeking through the surface of the water.  Despite the warm air and bright sun, a cool and eerie feeling descended on our group.

Individually and collectively, we wondered about the fate of the crew that night.  What was their experience of the violent collision between ship and land?  How many perished, how many survived?  Some answers to our questions reside in the history books.  Many others have been lost to time.  What the wreckage made clear, however, was that even this great ship was no match for the giant rocks that are the foundation of Drummond Island.  After discussing the little-known history of the Agnes W, we took our last photos and began the hike back to our vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As with most things on Drummond Island the adventure isn’t complete until you are safely back to your starting point.  This time we tackled the trail off the beach knowing that the surviving crew of the Agnes W likely forged a similar path as they left that shore cold, wet and scared.  Our team departed under far better circumstances, and with a sense of satisfaction that we had found what we were looking for.

During the following days we navigated even rougher terrain as our team explored and discovered towering cliffs, amazing rock formations, old ruins and intriguing Chippewa sites the locals call “places of power”.  For Drummond is a big island with an even larger history.  A land that calls out to would-be adventurers to rediscover her secrets.  A worthy destination for all, and one that deserves the title Pure Michigan.

Have you had the opportunity to explore Drummond Island? Tell us about your experience! 

Check out the Modern Explorers in action and see the wreck of the Agnes W for yourself in the video below.

Christian ModExpChristian Anschuetz embraces the duality of modern life, and freely moves from being a technologist at work, and an avid outdoorsman and adventurer for play.  As an IT executive and entrepreneur, he happily takes the lead of the Modern Explorers crew.  As a former Marine, the path he leads the team is often fraught with obstacles, dirt, and adventure. You can reach Christian at christian@modern-explorers.com. To learn more about the Modern Explorers follow them on Facebook or check out their YouTube Channel.


Keep These Tips for Recycling in Mind While Traveling in Pure Michigan

Unspoiled natural beauty and pristine forests and lakes make enjoying the great outdoors in Michigan so special. Today, guest blogger Kerrin O’Brien from Michigan Recycling Coalition shares some best practices for recycling while traveling in Michigan. 

Recycle, MI Sleepy Hollow

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

So, the great Michigan outdoors beacons you to come play?  What drew you?  The amazing fresh water beaches?  Picturesque sand dunes?  Sublime, cool forests?  Or, the rustic and modern places where friends come to eat, drink and be merry?  Whatever your reason for traveling in and around Michigan, take notice of these places.  Do you see litter? Can you find a trash can or better yet, where’s the recycling bin?

What you don’t see in the water, on the beach or in the forest is a big part of what makes Michigan pure.  We care about our peninsulas and it shows.  Michiganders take great pride in the beauty of our state.

As a kid, my family went camping a lot. It’s what young families did in the 1970’s. One camping trip to the Great Smokey Mountains in Kentucky left a big impression on me. Sadly, it wasn’t the beauty of the mountains but the trash dumped off the side of a cliff that left its mark. We never encountered this kind of thoughtlessness on such a grand scale in Michigan. My family spent a day cleaning up that hillside.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

Photo courtesy of Michigan Recycling Coalition

Now when my family goes camping, we think about leaving no trace long before we’re in place.  You won’t always have ready access to convenient garbage cans, let alone recycling bins, so it’s important to consider your options before you don’t have them.  We try to make smart choices about the products and packaging we buy before we’re in the woods or at the beach.

Recycling wasn’t yet a big thing in the 1970’s, but neither was complex plastic packaging.  Think about reducing your waste when you’re buying.  Purchasing products sold in minimal, smart, and recyclable packaging will reduce your waste burden and bill.  Recycling, wherever you find yourself, is an important part of the commitment and unfortunately, not always easy.

ReMi_4C_TMGovernor Rick Snyder recently made recycling a priority for Michigan.  We now know that providing Michiganders and visitors with recycling options wherever they go is an important part of keeping Michigan clean and green.  The environmental benefits of recycling are probably clear to many of us, turning our garbage into back into new products puts our garbage to work for us and conserves our resources.  But you know what else recycling does?  It creates jobs and local economic activity that doesn’t involve digging for new resources.

So, on your travels this summer, look for ways to reduce your waste in the first place, choose recyclable products and packaging, buy in bulk, look for or ask for recycling bins wherever you go, pack out your recyclables and feel confident that you’re playing your part in Pure Michigan.

How do you recycle while traveling? 

KerrinKerrin O’Brien has been involved in recycling on a professional level for more than 20 years and Executive Director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition since 2008.  O’Brien’s experience in the Smokey Mountains so long ago gave her the passion and purpose to make a career of reducing waste.  The Michigan Recycling Coalition is an association for recycling professionals and statewide advocate for best practices and policies in recycling. Their Recycle, MI campaign aims at raising awareness of the value of recycling for communities across the state.