Saturday, October 22, 2011

Googling Stuff: Amazing But True Facts About My Home Town

Dear George,

When I went off to college, my new classmates were from New York/New Jersey, Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and other metropolitan centers. Most didn’t even know there was an Upper Peninsula in Michigan, much less ever hearing of Menominee. One of my roommates joked that I seemed to have come from Menominee, Mishigas, substituting the Yiddish word for “craziness”. To my knowledge, I was the first and only kid to come from the U.P. to Antioch College, one of the country’s most innovative liberal arts colleges. I decided that my background was different from everybody else’s and that being from Menominee was a mark of distinction.

All this came back to me the other day when I was fiddling around on the Internet. There are, of course, hundreds of millions of web-sites one can go to. If you do a Google search of my home town “Menominee, MI”, you turn up with 980,000 hits. That’s quite a bit of information to digest. I decided to search as much of this as possible, so I started combining “Menominee” with a lot of other search terms, e.g, “Menominee & automobiles,” “Menominee & giraffes,” “Menominee & shipwrecks,” etc. As it turns out, there’s an endless amount to be learned about Menominee, most of which I didn’t even know. I haven’t gotten to all 980,000 websites yet, but here are a few of the things that I’ve uncovered so far. Some of them might seem a little astonishing, e.g., Vampires, but they are on the Internet and consequently are probably true.



Automobiles: The “Menominee” was an electric automobile built by the Menominee Electric Manufacturing Company in Menominee in 1915. It sold for $1,250. (

Banana Belt: Menominee, Escanaba, and Manistique are said to be in the “banana belt” of the U.P. because their winter temperatures are warmer than the region as a whole. (

Bats: The biggest bat in Menominee County is the hoary bat, which has a wing span of 15”. Hoary bats live in trees and are usually found by themselves. (

Bears: While chopping corn, a custom harvester mowed down a huge, 660-lb. bear in mid-Menominee County on Sept. 10, 2010. (www.michigan-sportsman,com, 9-11-10)

Bigfoot: A couple in Bark River in Menominee County were watching deer out of their living room window when a 7-foot tall, dark brown, hairy creature, walking upright, passed slowly through their field, pausing to stoop and pick up things to eat. It was the homeowners’ second Bigfoot sighting in their front yard in five years. (, 2008)

Blizzards: In Menominee’s ‘Worst Storm,’ the Washington Day Blizzard of 1922, two feet of snow fell on the Twin Cities in a single day, blown into 10 foot drifts by northeasterly winds as high as 50 miles per hour. (, 4-08)

Cougars: The Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources confirms that hair samples retrieved from a car bumper, after a motorist reported hitting a “large cat” in Menominee County, came from a cougar. (www.michigan-sportsman, 2-18-05)

Crop Circles: Two 125 feet diameter crop circles were found in a cornfield in Menominee County in October, 2011. (, 10-17-11)

Deer Hunting: Menominee County has the largest deer population in the U.P. , with a herd of about 45,000. Approximately 8-9000 deer licenses are sold in Menominee County each fall, and an average of about 5900 deer are killed in the county each year. (, 2010)

Fish: The lower Menominee River near the mouth of Green Bay is one of the best walleye pike fisheries in the U.S., as well as offering northern pike, sturgeon, muskellunge, jumbo perch, trout, salmon, and World Class smallmouth bass. (

Ghosts: A Menominee informant reports: “Riverside Cemetery is very haunted. Every time I’ve gone there be it day or afternoon I have heard and seen strange things. Lots of paranormal activity, and one time I heard a bagpiper playing the song, “Abide with me,” when no one was around in the early a.m. … It’s too creepy for words.” (

Halfway: A small plaque on the north side of Menominee near 48th Ave. indicates that Menominee is exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole (which is probably why it sometimes seems very hot and sometimes very cold). (

Ice Boating: The first regatta in history of the Northwest Ice Yacht Association was held in Menominee in the winter of 1913. (, 2-19-07)

Lynching: Michigan’s last lynching occurred in Menominee in 1881 when townsfolk hanged Canadian lumberjacks Jack and Frank McDonald who had been involved in a fatal street brawl. (, 3-28-08)

Maroons: The Menominee H.S. Maroons won the state championships in their division for basketball in 1967 and football in 1998, 2006 and 2007. In the 2006 season the football team scored 513 points but only allowed 38 points scored against them. (

Miracles: Menominee native Diana J. reports visiting the Miracle of Life Tent at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, where she saw three sows farrowing, 15 piglets already born, four lambs arriving, 11 calves born to Holstein cows, and 34 chickens hatching. (www.michiganfarmbureau,com, 10-15-11)

Monsters: According to his journal (May, 1673), Father Jacques Marquette was told by the Menominee Indians that the great river was very dangerous, full of horrible monsters which devour men and canoes and even a demon who swallows up all who ventured to approach him. (www.wisconsinhistory,org)

Moose Testicles: In the play Escanaba in da Moonlight, Menominee native Jimmy “the Jimmer” Negamanee becomes possessed by spirits and is treated with a drink made of moose testicles and porcupine urine. (

Mysteries: The sudden appearance of a 150-foot, 4-foot-deep crevice in Menominee Township, heard after a loud boom and shaking ground, remains a mystery and is causing a great deal of speculation. (, net, 10-7-10)

Packers: The Green Bay Packers played their first game in history against the Menominee North End A.C. in September 1919. Green Bay won 53-0 and went on to outscore their opponents 565-6 during the 10-game season. (

Psychic Investigations: When Duncan McGregor of Peshtigo disappeared without a trace in July 1905, his distraught wife turned to psychic detective Doc Roberts for help. Roberts went into a trance-like state and told Mrs. McGregor exactly where her husband’s body was trapped under sunken logs in the Menominee River. (

Pumpkins: The first annual Giant Pumpkin Festival was held at Marina Park in downtown Menominee on Oct. 21, 2011. (, Oct. 2011)

Rabbis: Abraham I. Shinedling was born in Menominee, MI, on Sept. 8, 1897, to Moses and Dora Shinedling; received an A.B. Degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1919; and was ordained rabbi by the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1920. (

Stagecoaches: On Mar. 17, 1892, stagecoach driver Henry Spencer lost his way coming across Green Bay from Sturgeon Bay to Menominee, and the stage and its horses, with five men, one woman, and one girl on board, began to sink through the ice. Luckily, the party found a fishing shanty and huddled together through the night until Spencer rode one of the horses two miles to the Menominee shore to get help. (, 4/08)

Surprise: The Surprise Party was created in 1940 when comedian Gracie Allen, the wife of George Burns, ran for President as a media stunt. Allen went on a whistle-stop around the country appearing with a live kangaroo named Laura. Her campaign came to a head when she was unexpectedly elected mayor of Menominee (although she didn’t accept the position). (

Swedish: Menominee County has Swedish cemeteries at Carney, Daggett, and Nadeau. (

UFOs: On July 6, 2000 a man and his wife on Chambers Island in Green Bay watched a bright, wingless, cylinder-shaped object descend at sunset at the mouth of the Menominee River, eventually disappearing north of the city of Menominee 30 minutes later. (

Vacations: “This summer my family again vacationed on the N.W. shores of the Lake…Up through Wisconsin, over the State line and through one of the loveliest streets in all of America – First Street in Menominee, Michigan.” (, 8-14-11)

Vampires: According to the Ghosts of America website, a vampire apparition has been spotted several times on the corner of Dunlap Street and Madison Avenue in Marinette, Menominee’s twin city across the river. (

Walleye Pike Cakes: From Stacy and Adam’s wedding: “I ordered a walleye cake for my husband for his groom’s cake and it turned out amazing!! No one could believe it was a cake because it looked so real!” (, 5/10)

War Casualties: Sixty-one Army and Air Force men from Menominee County were killed in World War II. (

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