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Menominee City

Menominee City Hall is located at 2511 10th Street, Menominee, MI 49858; phone: 906-863-2656.

Menominee as described in 1941 [1]

Menominee is bordered on the east by Green Bay and on the south and west by the Menominee River. To these waters it owes much of its livelihood and recreation. Hydroelectric power from the Menominee and low rates of water transportation have attracted numerous manufacturers to the city.

The first settler in the Menominee district was Louis Chappee, a fur trader who built a post on the river in 1796. Following the fur traders came lumber operators who built a sawmill and dam in 1832. Construction of the dam revealed other possibilities: fish were so numerous that dip nets were used, and more than 500 barrels of fish were scooped up, salted, and packed each season. Menominee was the largest lumber-shipping point in the Upper Peninsula until the supply of timber was exhausted in 1910, when other sources of revenue were developed, among them dairying. Menominee County produces 2,000,000 pounds of cheese annually; its commercial fishing yields an annual return of $250,000.

The harbor, extending one mile upstream from the river's mouth, has a dredged channel its entire length. Here ships unload raw material for factories and take on cargoes of finished products-paper, baby buggies, chrome furniture, Venetian blinds, electric fans, and fresh fish. Along the Green Bay waterfront are numerous parks and beaches.

The municipal beach, Sheridan Road at Ogden Avenue, is one block from the main business street, which parallels the shore. A large recreation room, facing the bay, overlooks the breakwater extending from the beach eastward into the bay for 300 feet, then running south 900 feet to form a yacht basin that can accommodate the largest pleasure craft on the Great Lakes. This breakwater is a favorite strolling place. Fishermen crowd its railings, yachtsmen in marine garb give it a holiday atmosphere, and at night, when its lights are reflected in the dark water, it is a festive and romantic promenade.

During the vacation season, thousands of visitors watch weekly sailboat races, an annual regatta held the last week in July, and various swimming contests. But the summer sports are mild compared with the revelry of the annual Smelt Carnival on the river (usually in April). Originating from a spontaneous yearly gathering of fishermen, the Smelt Carnival was inaugurated in 1936 as a city-sponsored event. The program includes the coronation of a king and queen on a throne in the center of the Interstate Bridge (closed to traffic during the Carnival), fireworks, huge bonfires, dancing, singing, and music. Because only half the bridge is within its limits, Michigan does not enforce its size limit for nets. This lenient attitude has given impetus to a mass production smelt-dipping technique. Menominee fishermen, using elaborate rigs made with a pulley apparatus on the pointed ends of two long poles, fastened together and connected to the bridge siding, are able to raise and lower nets 10 to 12 feet wide. In 1934, two fishermen lifted 4,200 pounds of smelt in less than five hours; more than 1,000 tons were taken from the Menominee River during the 1938 season. Festivities are illuminated at night by fires made from discarded automobile tires, gathered by the theaters of the Twin Cities at 'tire matinees' for children; the price of admission to the show is one old tire.

John Nenes City Park, with 59 acres of natural forest, at the east end of Grand Blvd., was presented to the city by John Henes in 1905. Nearby are the dunes from which sand was taken to fill in the slough beneath the Interstate Bridge, where in early days the Indians harvested wild rice. The rice country was the scene of the Sturgeon War, fought between the Menominee and the Chippewa. Sturgeon was their chief food, and, when the Menominee dammed the river to prevent the fish from reaching the Chippewa settlement, a war resulted in which hundreds of Menominee were killed.

Jordan College, at State Road and Stephenson Avenue, with white brick buildings and a 100-acre campus covered with indigenous trees, was established in 1932 and named for the very Reverend Father Francis of the Cross of Jordan, founder of the Society of the Divine Savior. Jordan, a liberal arts college, stands on the site of one of the earliest log schools in this territory.

  1. Michigan State Administrative Board, Michigan Writers' Project, Works Projects Administration, Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State, American Guide Series, 1941.
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