Upper Peninsula Stories and Tips

History Abounds in the U P

Pickle Barrel House Museum Photo, Grand Marais, Michigan

One of the things I noticed throughout my three day visit to Michigan's Upper Peninsula ("The U P" as it's known), was that almost every town had some sort of museum or historical society exhibit. While several of these museums were on my travel itinerary and are included in this travel journal, many were surprises that just seemed to pop up out of nowhere. They created quite the distraction as I made my way west to east from Marquette to Sault St. Marie.

I really did not have the time to spend stopping everywhere that caught my eye. That said, I did make a point to get out and stretch my legs in waterfront town of Grand Marais. My original plan was to photograph their lighthouse and spend some time at the Light Keeper's House Museum. With their limited hours of 1p-4p, that really didn't work well into my drive schedule since I arrived to town well before noon, and had a full schedule that would prevent me from waiting for them to open later in the day. So with some photos taken, I moved on.

Right along the main street, I noticed The Old Post Office Museum so I stopped to check it out. Originally a jewelry store built in 1905, it became the town's post office in 1907 and served in that capacity until the 1970's. It has been fully restored and today provides a nice review of history in this area dating back to the Native American's that first called his home.

With Grand Marais' rich logging and fishing history, the collection of photo exhibits do a nice job of telling that story. There is also some wonderful artifacts from the early years that this building was the community's US Post Office, including the original bronze mail boxes.

Also located in Grand Marais is the Pickle Barrel House Museum. Like the Light Keeper's House Museum, their hours were only 1p-4p so I didn't get to tour the inside of this unique barrel shaped home. Built in 1926 on Lake Sable and subsequently moved to its current location in 1936, this was the summer cottage of Mary and William Donalhey. Mr. Donalhey was a famous author and cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune.

The design for this barrel shaped dwelling was based on the oak casks in which Monarch brand pickles were sold. The Pickle Barrel House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Michigan Register of Historic Places.

All of these museums in Grand Marais are operated by the Grand Marais Historical Society. The annual membership fee of $5 will get you admission into all of their exhibit buildings.

Visitors to Michigan's U P should consider stopping along their travels to check out some of the local history found in the area. Truly, the U P is a slice of Americana that is worth exploring.

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