Tag Archives: Touring museums in the Great Lakes area

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip-Part 4

2 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 4 – Friday July 26

My first museum this morning was to visit the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum located in Bay City, MI. This museum is housed in the destroyer USS Edson (DD-946) which is tied up alongside the Saginaw River near Essexville, MI.  Since I served on a WWII destroyer (Gearing-class) while in the U.S. Navy, and I have visited many ship museums, I opted to just get a photo and move on to the next museum.

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I headed north on I-75 to visit the Standish Historical Depot located in Standish, MI.  The first Standish depot was built in 1871 by the Michigan Central Rail Road (MCRR), but was replaced by a new depot (1877-1889). This small depot museum has been restored, and retains many of its original beautiful hardwood fixtures.

Now I headed northeast on US-23 to visit the Wurtsmith Air Museum located in Oscoda, MI.  This turned out to be a fairly large museum with three hangers of aircraft, equipment and memorabilia, designed to preserve the history of nearby Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which was operational from 1923 to 1993.

I decided to take US-23 north along the coast to Mackinaw City, MI where I visited the Colonial Michilimackinac.  This Mackinac State Park is a work in process.  The reconstructed 1715 Colonial Fort Mackinac and fur trading village consists of 16 buildings furnished with early 18thcentury furnishings, and guides dressed in period costumes, to tell you all about their building. Reenactments are performed daily to help the visitor appreciate the life and times of the period, including Fort Mackinac’s participation in the War of 1812 with the British.

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While in Mackinaw City, I visited the Mackinaw City Bridge Museum, located on the second floor of MaMa Mia’s Pizzeria.  This small museum relates the history of the building of the “Mighty Mac” and honors the thousands of workers who participated in the bridge’s construction. The museum is filled with artifacts, photographs, and all types of memorabilia. 

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Local business and investment concerns showed interest in a bridge from Ignace to Mackinaw City as early as 1884, however the Michigan state government was not ready to tackle such a project.   Increased tourist traffic in the area during the early 1900s finally saw the implementation of an automobile ferry service in 1923 between the two cities.  As the traffic flow increased, and with the ferry service in full swing, carrying as many as 9000 cars a day, traffic backups waiting for passage began to increase and were sometimes known to stretch for miles. In 1928 the Governor of Michigan called for the Michigan State Highway Department to perform a bridge evaluation.  In 1934 the Michigan Legislature created the Meckinac Straits Bridge Authority to study the concept, however financing during the Great Depression was non-existent.  Serious plans for the bridge began as early as 1936 , but was delayed by WWII.   Construction finally began on the bridge in 1954.  Approximately 11, 350 workers, from all over the country, completed the $70+ Million Icon in 1957.  At the time of its completion, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 26,372 feet (5 miles).

My restaurant choice this evening turned out to be at Scallywags White Fish & Chips, located on East Central Avenue, just down the street from the Mackinaw City Bridge Museum.  I had their White Fish Tacos that were some of the best I have ever eaten.  Their chips were also excellent.  I struck up a conversation with the guy at the next table, and discovered he was also an ex-navy man, and he had been to some of the museums, in Canada, that I plan to visit next summer.   He said he had some photos of some of Canada’s rarest airplanes, and would email them to me, if he could find them.

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After that great meal and interesting conversation, I was ready for Greta to take me to tonight’s motel, where I could relax from the long day’s drive.  I recorded my day’s events, and before I knew it, I was falling asleep at the desk.  I decided it was finally time to call it a day, hit the sack, and hopefully dream of exciting things I had planned to see tomorrow.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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