Sunday, June 9, 2013

Seeing this felt good

Back a few years ago, in about 2000, I got asked to serve as a local historical society's representative to a county-wide committee to work on a project that the Tourist and Recreation Association had thought up. The plan was to publicize some of the county's cultural and historical attractions. It was an interesting experience. Our county has about a dozen small groups devoted to various preservation or cultural efforts, most of which focus on just one thing, e.g., preserving a one room schoolhouse, and a few with broader goals. The representatives to the committee were a mixed lot. People definitely are strange. There were some folks who seemed to think historical knowledge is a private good and weren't real keen on sharing -- an odd attitude, to say the least. If you believe the history is important enough to form a local historical society to preserve it, shouldn't you also want to make sure as many people as possible have a chance to learn it?

Overall, though, we managed to reach some consensus and came up with a list of possible sites to include on a map. With help from the Copper Country Council for the Arts, the group put together a grant application that succeeded in getting a decent amount of funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. It wasn't a huge amount, but, along with a few bucks kicked in by each of the participating local groups, it was enough to help pay for an individual sign to be posted at each site and for three large signs to be erected at each of the highway rest areas (Tioga Falls, Canyon Falls, and near the community of Keweenaw Bay) that tourists are likely to stop at. It's been about twelve years since this sign went up at Canyon Falls. There's some minor wear and tear, but overall it's still looking good. So are the signs at each of the heritage sites. It is remarkably satisfying to look at the end product of something designed by a committee and realize that it actually was worth doing.

The hardest part of this project, incidentally, wasn't getting a dozen people to agree on which sites should be prioritized and it wasn't finding the funding. It was getting the Michigan Department of Transportation to agree to the signage at the rest areas. If it's not their idea, they don't want it there.

If anyone feels like stalking us, the S.O. and I live fairly close to the number 7 on the map.


  1. Looks like you are not very far from big lake boating, that is cool.

  2. What was the logic in keeping history private? That is a new one to me. Were they worried about too many curious visitors?
    Highway departments are the same the world over, I see, when it comes to anyone's signs but their own.

  3. I have no clue what was motivating the local history groups that were reluctant to cooperate with the other local groups. I'd blame it on crazy old ladies, but now that I fit into that demographic I'm reluctant to use that label.


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