The obverse (front) of a postcard is arguably its most important side. The image takes us back to an earlier time in Escanaba, and is almost always the first thing we look at when picking up a new card. Image type is also how we categorize cards into exhibits. In fact, the image on the front is what prompts someone to buy a postcard in the first place.
There is something to be said for what's written on the reverse, or back side, however. While a postcard's picture certainly speaks 1,000 words, often it's the ten or twenty words on the back that tell the true story. Collectors seek out 'mint' cards that are in pristine condition, but we find those cards to be almost a little boring. If the history inherent in a postcard is part of its value, then a card with only one side to view could be considered worth only half as much.
With this in mind, we're introducing Messages, a new feature that will focus on the message, in the hopes of learning a little more about Escanaba and the people who called it home.
Our first post brings up an interesting concept, that Escanaba isn't the city it used to be, that it's somehow diminished over time. Lately, we seem to hear more and more about Esky's decline, due largely to the prevalence of social media and the ease by which people can share their opinions. A hundred years ago, postcards were the social media of the day. And it seems that these types of opinions never go out of style.
"Dear friend - Arrived here yesterday morning. Pretty good town but not the town it use to be."
What's so interesting, of course, is that this particular opinion was expressed over 105 years ago! The card is postmarked May 8, 1912. One can only imagine what this person saw in 1912 that made him long for 'the good old days'.
Nowadays, it seems as though we hear something similar almost on a daily basis about Escanaba. Apparently, it's not a new concept that the Escanaba we see before us is somehow in worse shape than the Escanaba of our memories. We're not sure if that's comforting, or not.
The Sand Point Lighthouse, easily one of Escanaba's most recognizable landmarks, will celebrate 150 years next month. Click the image above to view our Sand Point Lighthouse exhibit, including historical information and additional views.
For more information about the upcoming celebration, check out this recent article in the Escanaba Daily Press.
As reported recently in the Daily Press, it looks like the ongoing project to convert the historic House of Ludington into affordable senior housing is still moving forward. While the project has stirred much controversy in the community, we won't get into that here. Instead, let's take a look back at Escanaba's iconic hotel. Click the image below to view our entire House of Ludington exhibit.
Today marks the beginning of a multi-year project by MDOT to completely rebuild the US-2 bridge across the Escanaba River near Pioneer Trail Park. Running from April of 2017 through October of 2018, this construction project will likely be a headache for many commuters. We thought it was also a great opportunity to take a look back at the 'new' bridge.
The current bridge was constructed in 1929, replacing the original auto bridge that spanned the Esky closer to its mouth. It was widened in 1956 and received numerous small repairs over the years, but is now considered 'functionaly obsolete' by MDOT. The new bridge will feature several improvements, including an additional 37 feet in width to accommodate wider shoulders and a pedestrian pathway. Part of the project includes the replacement of a nearby E&LS railroad bridge across US-2.
We plan to write a Then & Now post once construction is completed next year. In the meantime, enjoy these views showing the bridge in its heyday. Clicking the images will take you to their corresponding exhibits.
Our very first holiday card, sent in April of 1911 and acquired just last month, pretty much says it all. This card is located in our Holiday exhibit.
Our 250th postcard has arrived! An early divided back card, it's a view of Wells Avenue looking west with a group of five or six grade school-aged children standing on the corner. Two high school students (or possibly young adults) are standing on the sidewalk. All are clearly posing for the picture. Although summer trees blot out most of the houses, a large church (unidentified) is visible in the background. The card is postmarked August 26, 1908 from Escanaba, and was sent from C. L. French to Sara L. Brown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. While neither our oldest–nor our most beautiful or well-preserved–postcard, it is truly a milestone to reach 250 cards, which represents nearly 20 years of collecting. This card is located in our Other City Streets exhibit.
While most of our postcards were mailed to folks throughout the midwest, some traveled even further away. It's kind of neat to think of all these great cards starting out in the same place, but ending up scattered across the country. To better illustrate this, our Where'd They Go? page contains an interactive map showing the destination city for each of our postmarked cards.
It's the end of an era as the last of Escanaba's mighty ore docks will close down next month after 165 years of continuous operation. Check out our Ore Docks exhibit for a look back at the long history of these massive structures.
As Escanabans anxiously await the spring thaw, I've begun thinking more about the abundance of water surrounding the city and its influence on the area. Early Escanaba was famous for its massive ore docks. Escanaba's excellent location, of course, was what made it all possible. All that water and all those ships made lighthouses a necessity.
Escanaba's most famous lighthouse will always be the iconic Sand Point, often used as a symbol of the city. Since 1938, the harbor has also featured an automated crib light to guide ships in and out. The lighthouse we'll focus on in this post is the Minneapolis Shoal Light Station, located a distance away from Escanaba but vital to its shipping heritage nonetheless.
Nineteenth century shipping traffic into Escanaba, Michigan went by way of Peninsula Point; to guide the traffic there, the Peninsula Point Light was established in 1856. However, by the 1930s, shipping traffic had shifted far south of the point, and in response funds were appropriated for the Minneapolis Shoal Light Station in 1932. Construction was completed in 1934, and the light was first lit in 1935. The station was later automated in 1979, and is still in use.
This post, however, is really less about the history of the lighthouse and more about a new feature we're calling Then & Now, which will focus on one of our cards and provide a view of how the structure or location looks today. We plan to add more of these posts in the future. Enjoy!