ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Delta County Historical Society John and Mary Jane Beaumier Museum is open for the season.
The museum is filled with local artifacts and memorabilia, dating all the way back to Escanaba’s earliest days as part of a growing railroad industry.
“This town was built by railroad guys, basically,” said Charles Lindquist, Historical Society president. “It was Chicago Northwestern that made this port for the shipping of iron ore.”
Lindquist says by 1890, Escanaba was shipping out more iron ore than any other port. That led to a significant population increase.
“It was that business that really led to the growth of Escanaba,” said Lindquist. “We were never a community that went from nothing to 20,000 in ten years. Every decade, our population grew about 3,000, right into the 1920s.”
The museum also has a room of items documenting Delta County residents’ service in the armed forces.
Another major part of the area’s history on display is local sports. Lindquist says the highlight is a pair of old, worn-out shoes owned by Kevin Tapani, a baseball player raised in Escanaba. Tapani went on to win the 1991 World Series as a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.
“He is the only guy from Escanaba, I think, who ever got into the World Series and then won a game,” said Lindquist.
Many items showcase everyday life in years past, including typewriters, a phonograph, and authentic clothing. Lindquist says the one that often gets the biggest reactions is a machine from an old beauty parlor, once used to permanently curl women’s hair. What was once a painful experience now brings back happy memories for many.
“They’d start talking about the first time they got one and the next time, but what would be pleasant was thinking about the dance they were going to go to and maybe the guy they were with,” Lindquist said. “It made it kind of special.”
According to Lindquist, that’s what it’s all about–preserving Delta County’s stories for those who experienced them and for future generations who can learn from them.
“We think first of the people who live here or did live here and want to have it remembered, because that’s important to them and their families,” he said.
The Delta County Historical Society Museum is open daily now through Labor Day, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. A day pass for the museum and Sand Point Lighthouse costs $3.00 for adults, $1.00 for children, and $5.00 for families.