Heritage, great outdoors come together at historical sites/Inside the DNR

If you’re looking for some family fun this spring and summer, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Michigan’s rich history while soaking up some of its natural splendor at Michigan Historical Museum’s sites in the western U.P.

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee will offer a full schedule of activities for visitors of all ages this summer.

The museum will host an open house on May 19, with White Water – one of northern Michigan’s most popular folk music groups, featuring traditional music from Michigan’s past – in concert at 1 and 2:30 p.m. The open house kicks off a summer-long series of programs and events at the museum, including an antique auto show in June, historic bike tours on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail in July and a Civil War living history encampment with artillery demonstrations in August.

Located in forested ravines nine miles west of Marquette, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum tells the story of Michigan’s three iron ranges and the hard-working immigrants who helped build modern America. Overlooking the Carp River and the site of the region’s first iron forge, exhibits and outdoor trails interpret the large-scale capital and human investment that made Michigan an industrial leader. Attractions include hands-on permanent and temporary exhibits; outdoor interpretive paths; the high-definition film, “Iron Spirits: Life on the Michigan Iron Range” and a wide selection of unique books, games, jewelry, apparel and other Michigan-related specialty items at the Museum Store.

In May, the museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting June 1, the museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free; donations are encouraged. To learn more, visit michigan.gov/ironindustrymuseum.

Visit the Fort Wilkins Historic Complex historic site at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to experience what 19th-century life was like for residents of a U.S. Army post on the northern frontier and for the lightkeepers at nearby Copper Harbor Lighthouse.

Located on Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline, Fort Wilkins was an active Army post in the mid-1800s, built to keep the peace in Michigan’s Copper Country. Exhibits, audiovisual programs and living history interpretation tell the story of the soldiers and their families who lived there – the daily routine of military service, the hardships of frontier isolation, the lifestyle of another era. Attractions include 19 restored buildings, costumed interpreters, copper mining sites, evening slide programs, camping and picnicking.

The site also includes the Copper Harbor Lighthouse with a restored 1848 lightkeeper’s dwelling, 1866 lighthouse, 1933 steel light tower and interpretive trails. The lighthouse is reached by boat ride, available for a fee daily throughout the summer season.

Admission to Fort Wilkins and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse -located in Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, one mile east of Copper Harbor on U.S. 41 – is free. A Recreation Passport is required for entry to the park.

Fort Wilkins is open daily, 8:30 a.m. to dusk, from May 13 through Oct. 13. From May 27 through Sept. 2, Copper Harbor Lighthouse is open daily (weather permitting), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Evening hours are extended in July and August.

For more information about Fort Wilkins and Copper Harbor Lighthouse, visit michigan.gov/ftwilkins.

The Fort Wilkins Historic Complex and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum are both part of the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources.

Casey Warner is with the Michigan DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division. To receive regular stories about opportunities to discover Michigan history by email, visit michigan.gov/dnr, click on the red envelope, and subscribe to the Michigan Historical Center News list.