Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage of the Tahquamenon region is a tapestry as varied and vibrant as the colors of its autumn forest. It’s a region rich with the culture of birchbark and blueberries, whitetail deer and whitefish fillets.  We are a self-reliant people wise in the ways of the forest and rivers, but all are welcome to our home where live-and-let-live is the law of the land. You will find, the U.P. culture is something very different than the rest of the culture in Michigan. Here, our elders drew their every need from this vast land, giving thanks in time of plenty and enduring when the land could not share. Our forests, and the lumber camps, railroads and sawmills that inhabited them, helped build the homes and industry of the Midwest. In a time before roads, Crisp Point, Whitefish Point and Point Iroquois Lighthouses guided passengers and freight with friendly beacons along our vast expanses of Lake Superior beach. Discover our logging and maritime museums and extend your trip along the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway into a trip back in time.

MARITIME

In a time before roads and rails, schooners braved this lonely stretch of Lake Superior coast guided by a string of beacons and life saving stations. Still, many ships were lost, and today this sweep of lonely sand is named the Shipwreck Coast. It’s the final resting place of over 200 shipwrecks, the most famous being the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald that went down with all its crew in 1975. Visitors can find the Fitz’s bell and a museum dedicated to the region’s rich maritime history at Whitefish Point, home to the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. Or get off the beaten path to discover the solitude and serenity of the Crisp Point Lighthouse. Further to the east, Point Iroquois Lighthouse marks the entrance to the Saint Mary’s river, connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron, making it a great spot to observe Great Lakes freighters, or “lakers,” and the larger ocean going “salties” as they make their way to and from the nearby locks of Sault Ste. Marie.

NATIVE AMERICAN

For generations native peoples have called the Tahquamenon region home. Follow the Byway from the mouth of the mighty Tahquamenon near Paradise, Michigan into the abundant interior and know that you’re following in the footsteps and paddle strokes of a proud people. This is a land still rich in the raw materials—fish, game, berries, birch, balsam and more—of lives lived close to the land. Discover the heritage of the culturalheritageregion’s first inhabitants as you travel, and know that while change is inevitable, Native American cultural traditions including a respect for the land, its seasons and power remain constant as the Tahquamenon’s deep, slow push towards Lake Superior.

LOGGING

The mighty forests of the Tahquamenon helped build the houses and industry of the Midwest. In the process a unique culture was forged among the logging towns, lumber camps and railroad spurs that linked them. Today forest management is still a key piece of the local economy, but visitors can journey back in time for a glimpse of the lumberjack life at the Tahquamenon Logging Museum in Newberry. Enjoy a lumberjack breakfast cooked on an authentic woodstove and served in the museum cook shack, then take a stroll on a boardwalk along the mighty Tahquamenon, the river at the heart of the region and its logging history. In nearby Soo Junction, visitors can venture deeper into Tahquamenon Country via the Toonerville Trolley narrow-gauge railway and accompanying riverboat trip down the Tahquamenon River. For a glimpse of the land before logging be sure to explore the virgin forest of Tahquamenon State Park near the Upper Falls.