Made in Da U.P.,Eh!
April 28 - September 10, 2016
Many people see the hey-day of the Upper Peninsula’s history as the years of the great mining and logging booms at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. However, since that time, the Upper Peninsula has developed a more diversified economy, creating a wide variety of products. The exhibit, “Made in Da U.P., Eh!” features companies, both past and present, that create products for export outside of the U.P. The exhibit will be on display April 28 through September 10 in the Center’s new gallery in Gries Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.
The exhibit is broken into several different parts based on the types of products created. There are sections on food, wood products, recreation, industrial products, clothing, and more. Companies from throughout the Upper Peninsula donated examples of their products for the display and there are panels on the history of their companies and the types of products they create.
One of the largest areas is the food and beverage section. It seems that the hungry and thirsty people of the U.P. have created a need for high quality products made right at home. Some have become so successful that we are now exporting them around the Midwest and beyond. These include sausage companies such as Vollwerth’s, confectioners such as Sykally’s and Donckers, Pasty makers like Lawry’s and Jean Kay’s, Italian food products by Mama Russo’s and Dina Mia, dairy products by Jilbert’s, and many more.
Besides food, wood products are one of the most common exports from the U.P. These can be items as utilitarian as the paper items made by New Page, Neenah, and Verso to specialty items, such as the basketball floors made by Conner Sport in Amasa. Of course, the U.P. has a long history of wood products, including items made by the Munising Wooden Ware, commercial charcoal from Cliffs Dow Chemical Co. in Marquette, and the Ford Plant in Kingsford, which created not only the popular “Woody” automobiles but also made commercial charcoal briquettes.
Surprising to some people, the U.P. has an active industrial base creating specialized products and services for many different uses. These include aerospace, railroad, surgical, automobile, and sustainable energy products. In addition, the U.P. has companies making clothing, plastics, furniture, boats, snowplows, firearm sights, and many more products that are on display in the exhibit.
Much of the research and writing for the exhibit was done by two interns from NMU’s Public History program, Ryan Dubay and Emily Irish. The Beaumier Center thanks them for their hard work over the course of the semester compiling information on the companies and identifying resources for the exhibit.