Saturday, March 19, 2016

Archive: Menominee Postcards (#7)

Menominee County Courthouse and Jail

Dear George,
Every few weeks I post a vintage postcard image of my hometown, Menominee, Mich., in the sidebar of this blog.  Because each gets deleted a week later, I’m posting a batch of these postcard images here as a permanent archive.  Earlier Menominee Postcard archives (posted on 6/26/10, 2/5/11, 6/17/11, 1/11/12, 7/28/12, and 10-3-13) can be accessed by going to the blog’s righthand column, scrolling down to “Labels”, and clicking on “Archives”.  There are also archives of Marinette postcards there (Menominee’s twin city), as well as of my dad’s family photos taken in Menominee in the 1940’s and 1950’s (“Vic’s Photos”).  

A Birds' Eye View of Downtown Menominee

According to an 1883 encyclopedia description: Menominee is located on the delta lying between the Menominee River and the shore of Green Bay, extending from the railroad bridge to the river's mouth and one and a half miles along the bay shore.   The population approached 10,000 in 1883, and 2,000 men were employed in the many large lumber mills, cutting 160,000,000 feet of lumber each year.  The county was organized in 1863, the first newspaper (the Herald) was issued in 1863,  the Menominee River Manufacturing Co. (lumber) was incorporated in 1866, the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1868, the railroad from Fort Howard (Green Bay) was completed in 1871, and the city's first blast furnace opened in 1883.

Fishing on the Menominee River

Here is a lone fisherman on the Menominee River in the early 1900’s.  His craft looks more like a raft than a boat.  The river as seen in this photo is narrower than it was at our house, and I wonder if this is the river channel that ran behind Pig Island along the Marinette shore.  As kids, we did a little fishing for perch and sunfish, but we didn't have much success.  The Menominee River is a popular location for anglers today, and I guess that was true a hundred years ago as well.  

Snowstorm, 1909

This photo was taken along Main St. (later Sheridan Road and now First St.) in Menominee in 1909.  We'd have snowstorms of this magnitude once in a long while during my childhood, and it was always an event filled with wonder and endless possibilities for play and adventure.  Frankie St. Peter and I would build a snow fort in front of our house on the west side of Sheridan Road, a couple of other neighborhood kids would build theirs across from us on the east side, and we’d lob snowballs at one another for hours.  

Durow’s Resort, M-35

Durow’s Resort was located along the Green Bay shore on M-35, roughly a quarter of a mile north of the O’Hara’s home near Turtle Creek (if my memory is correct).  Elroy Durow, whose family owned the resort, was a high school classmate of mine, and we were members of the Air Scouts together. 

SS Ferdinand Schlesinger Great Lakes Freighter

From its earliest days Menominee, with its location on Green Bay and the Menominee River, has been a significant Great Lakes shipping port.  This real photo postcard from 1908 documents the visit of the SS Ferdinand Schlesinger from Milwaukee.  The ship was built in 1891, and Menominee was its winter headquarters.  On May 16, 1919, the Schlesinger foundered southeast of Passage Island in Lake Superior, and, though the ship was lost, her crew of 22 was saved. 

Train wreck, 1910s

This train wreck occurred in Menominee County in the 1910s.  The lumber and mining booms in the latter half of the 1800's led to the expansion of railroad lines in the the U.P.  The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad line from Fort Howard (now Green Bay, WI) to Menominee was opened in December, 1871, and the line from Menominee to Escanaba was completed a year later.  From there it extended all the way to Lake Superior.  Menominee's railroad bridge was built in 1872.

The Grand Department Store

A.L. Sawyer (1911) reports that Adolph E. Guensburg, born near Prague, came to Menominee in 1893, and he and his brother Emil, who joined him in 1898, operated the Grand Department Store in Menominee.   According to the American Cloak and Suit Review, Vol. 10, the Grand Department Store was sold in 1915 to the Wilson-Henes Co., the members of which were Walter Henes, Otmar Henes, and A. M. Wilson.

Tourist Haven Cabins

Menominee is the entry point to the Upper Peninsula via Highway 41 from Milwaukee, Chicago, and other points south, so lots of tourists passed through or stopped for a while.  I don't recall the Tourist Haven Cabins myself, though they were on M-35 where lots of our family friends lived.     

Wells Lumber Company Fire, 4-13-31

The J. W. Wells Lumber Co. burned down on April 13, 1931, with a loss of over $1 million.  The fire spread to nearly 50 other buildings in the community, and sparks were carried across the river to Marinette.  Firemen reported smelling kerosene at the site of the fire, and company president, A.W. Wells, said he believed that the fire was caused by arson.  The fire ended a century of sawmill operations on the Menominee River.

Mystery Ship Seaport

The Alvin Clark was a 105-foot, two-masted schooner that was constructed in 1847 and that sank off Chambers Island in Green Bay in 1864.  It was salvaged in 1969 and put on display at the Mystery Ship Seaport on the Menominee River at the foot of Sixth Avenue.  While the ship was in near-perfect condition when it was raised, no plans were put in to effect for its conservation.  It rapidly deteriorated, and its remains were destroyed in 1994 to make way for a parking lot.  A group of our family members visited the Mystery Ship Seaport in the 1980's, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that one of our cousins was the tour guide.  

Home Comfort Inn, 1940s

I think that the Home Comfort Inn was along the Green Bay shore on M-35, but I can't swear to it.  There were a couple of tourist auto courts there in the 1940's while we were growing up, and my parents used to put us up at one when we came home for family reunions in the 1970’s and 80’s.  

Cyril Quever’s Beer Garden, 1942, Meissner banquet

The owner of this postcard reports that Meissner’s Miniature Bowling Banquet was held on May 13, 1942, at Cyril Quever’s Beer Garden in Menominee.  According to, Cyril Quever’s Bar and Meissner’s Beer Garden were located on 13th  Street in Finn Town in Menominee.  Cyril Quever was born in 1903 and died in 1951. 

Whittier Trail, Henes Park

Henes Park, a 50-acre park on the Green Bay shore, was donated to the city in 1907 by local brewer John Henes.  Its wooded nature paths are named after Schiller, Goethe, Longfellow, Shakespeare, Whittier, etc.  The park was designed by landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds, well-known for nature-based parks including Palmer Woods in Detroit.  We spent many happy times on the Henes Park trails in our childhood, and now our grandchildren and their cousins go there when visiting Menominee.      

F. C. Nowack Coal and Ice Yard

When I worked as a clerk at my grandfather’s Marinette Rexall drugstore, we’d get regular deliveries of both coal and ice to the store, though I don’t know if they came from Nowack’s.  One of my occasional tasks was stoking the furnace with chunks of coal.  I believe that the blocks of ice were cut from Green Bay in the winter and then stored under sawdust through the summer months, though it’s hard to imagine how this was possible. 

The Green Bay Shoreline

Green Bay, a huge bay off of Lake Michigan, is 10 to 20 miles wide and 120 miles long, extending from Green Bay, Wisconsin, at its south end, and up to Escanaba in Michigan’s Delta County to the north.  Menominee's main shopping district is spread out along the Green Bay shoreline on First St., and most city parks are on the bay as well.  A number of our family friends had homes or cottages on the shore, e.g., the Mars, Sargents, Caleys, O'Haras, Jacobsens, Sawyers, and others.  We spent many childhood hours swimming in the bay, hiking along the beach, and occasionally fishing off the breakwater pier. 

Gateway Café

Though it doesn’t exist any more, I have pleasant memories of the Gateway Café as one of the significant gathering places of my teenage years.  It was located on Ogden Avenue, just across the street from the St. Joseph-Lloyd hospital.  From age 16 onwards (i.e., the year that our driving privileges began), our teenage peer group would get together at the Gateway after Friday night football or basketball games and the post-game dance at the high school.  Our favorite order was a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke or chocolate shake.  However, it was often difficult to come up with that much money, and one might have to settle for an order of French fries instead. 

Pine Trees, Menominee, Mich.

The immense logging industry that was centered in the Menominee and Marinette region in the latter half of the 1800’s dealt mainly with the harvesting of white pines, which were then floated down the Menominee River to local sawmills.  We had majestic Norway Pines in our front yard at river house, and the pine tree is one of the iconic images of our youth.

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