Archived Stories


Fall 2017 


Who knew such a gem existed in our area? Who knew over 4000 gliders were built in Kingsford for WWII? Who knew the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built was in Iron Mt.? Who knew there was a U.P Veteran’s Memorial representing all 15 counties of the U.P. as well as recognizing the eras of Vietnam, Lebanon-Granada, the Gulf Wars, Korea and WW I & WW II.  On Sept 11th, we rode a bus to Iron Mountain to visit three museums and the UP Veterans Memorial. Check out our photos and commentary on our Facebook page


The Menominee Range Historical Foundation consists of three  museums and gift shop:  The Menominee Range Historical Museum, Cornish Pumping Engine & Mining Museum, and the World War II Glider & Military Museum

The Menominee Range Historical Museum features over 100 exhibits depicting local history from Native American inhabitants through the early 20th century with chronological displays and re-created period rooms.  

During World War II, the Kingsford Ford Motor plant built more Model CG-4A gliders for the United  States Army than any other company in the nation at much less cost than  other manufacturers.  The glider featured in the WWII Glider/Military Museum is one of only seven fully restored CG-4A World War II gliders in the world. 

The Cornish Pumping Engine & Mining Museum displays the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built in the U.S. and is a Michigan Historic Site (1958), a National Historic Site (1981), a Michigan Historic  Civil Engineering Landmark (1984) and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering  Landmark (1987). The museum also displays extensive underground mining equipment. 


Spring 2017


While giving a tour of facilities to NCLL on March 22nd, Mike Kaurala, the OTS director, and two coaches Vance Newgard (weight-lifting) and Rob Hermann (wrestling) described the OTS background, current affairs and future options. The Mining Journal published an article, "Seniors Go Olympian" written by Christi Bleck.



NCLL recently visited The historical Gossard Manufacturing (1920-1976) Building in Ishpeming, MI.  It was built in 1880 and as of 2016 is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  Paul and Sandy Arsenault now own the building and are doing their part to preserve the history of the building and the Gossard Girls. What a historical gem!  Over its 56 year history it employed nearly 1000 people (mostly women).  Its main product was undergarments for women (especially the lace front corset, brassiere and panty girdle). Many of us will have to admit to remembering/wearing.  I guess you could say these garments were the forerunner of Spanx!! 

The upstairs cutting/sewing room is intact with an original 1911 sewing machine.  Likewise they are still finding needles imbedded in the floor. There are some examples of the garments that were produced there, newspaper ads, articles and a tribute wall. Sandy looks for and appreciates any information from the public on these workers, the garments and stories associated with the Gossard Girls!

The women shared a camaraderie which brought into being things like picnics and bowling leagues. They also shared a free lunch together in the Gossard cafeteria.  There was an house paper called “The Gossardian” which published marriages, births, household tips like using oxalic acid to get rid of rust stains, and social commentary about the workers, local activities, etc.

The work force was mainly a labor market of single women, miner’s wives and daughters. There were also some men (about 20%) who were mostly cutters. In turn it gave women the opportunity to have a job, learn a trade, and an income.  They could buy a washing machine and contribute to the family, as well as the community economy, which was especially true during the war and the depression. This was the beginning of computer age, and this type of work being sent overseas for production.

There is also another part to the Gossard story which revolves around the “strike of 1949.” One of Marquette’s very own icon’s, Geraldine DeFant, who many of you will remember, came to Marquette, organized and led the famous Gossard Worker’s Strike to join the garment-workers union.  This was a very interesting strike and I suggest you research the information out there and learn more about it

There is additional information on Gossard Manufacturing, the building, workers, strike and more; all yours ready for only the search on your part.  Thanks to Sandy Arsenault for the presentation!

Sally Olsen For NCLL


Spring 2017:


Local resident Kurt Fosburg is one of only three certified Lampists in the nation. In January 2017 he gave a great educational, informative and fascinating presentation on the History of the Fresnel Lens. Those who attended had the highest accolades for Fosburg’s presentation – in the words of one participant “one of the best programs I have ever seen.”

The first thing we learned was the definition of a “Lampist:" an old-world term for a technician specializing in the set-up, repair, and preservation of classical Fresnel lighthouse lenses. Kurt, trained as an old world apprentice by the nation's leading lampist, followed this with a short lecture on the lens named after its French creator, Augustin Fresnel. Using a combination of the index of refraction of glass and the physics of light transmission, Fresnel created a mathematical formula to bend and focus the visible energy from a source of illumination into a concentrated beam of light to aid the Mariner at sea. The result was a beautiful combination of bronze framework and precision ground glass.

With increased U.S. shipping in the mid-1800s, the nation began purchasing the French Fresnel lenses for use in their lighthouses. Over time the classical Fresnel lens became obsolete, but instead of destroying these functional works of art the government began the process of removing the lenses from lighthouses and transferring them to local historical societies and maritime museums for public display. 

Traveling the country, Kurt delicately removing these priceless artifacts and restores them to their original luster for display.  He also manufactures missing components and associated clockworks mechanism, historically accurate reproduction of platforms, lamps, and other display items directly related to the Fresnel lens.  Mr. Fosburg has gone on to create his own unique company to further his interests and career.  As the youngest of the now retiring group of American lampists and the only one manufacturing replacement components, his talents, skills and passion for the subject shines bright. Some examples of Kurt's work are Stannard Rock near Marquette, Pointe aux Barques on Lake Huron, and Gibbs Hill on Bermuda.



If you would like to know more about NCLL, the programs or becoming a member contact the office or better yet, attend a program and experience for yourself. You can download booklet or registration forms or contact the NCLL office to request a paper copy.


Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison; Photo and text provided by Kurt Fosburg


Winter 2017:



On December 18th, a Mining Journal article covered an NCLL Learning to Tango class, including a photo of the Soderbergs who "try out a few steps." Dancing to good health

Fall 2016:

NCLL, with Fred Huffman from North Country Tours as guide, loaded up a Checker bus and headed for Pictured Rocks Lakeshore and Grand Marais to take in the fall colors and some history as well as socialize with fellow NCLLers.  It was a full day of seeing mother nature’s creations, learning about the history of Grand Marais and exploring this picturesque village.

The Chippewa Indians lived at Grand Marais for many years before the Europeans arrived. In 1829, Grand Marais was in its peak population of 2000-3000 due to lumber camps, mills and the commercial fishing industry.  It had a hospital, lawyers, bankers, an opera house, livery stables, a cigar maker and more.  A daily train ran from Seney and connected with other lines leading all across the nation.  In 1911 the lumber companies and railroads closed and residents packed their bags and caught the train out. By 1915 there were only about 200 people left.  In the mid-1920s highways opened and the motoring tourists discovered the village and tourism is now the primary industry.

Historical Society President Pat Munger welcomed and acquainted us with the village and was our tour guide for the Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum and the Pickle Barrel House Museum. The Pickel Barrel Museum was built for Wm. Donahey, creator of the Chicago Tribune cartoon story The Teenie Weenies. Donahey spent 10 summers in the cottage with his wife, Mary, herself a noted author of children’s books.  The Teenie Weenies debuted in The Tribune in 1914 and continued until his death in 1970.  The cartoon story featured miniature people who lived in a world of life-sized objects.  This led to a contract with Reid, Murdoch and Company which packaged food products such as Monarch-brand pickles as well as other food products.  Teenie Weenie books were translated into several languages and sold worldwide.

Sable Falls, Miner’s Castle, Munising Falls are always a thrill to see and remind us of  how fortunate we are to live in this great place call the Upper Peninsula.

By Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison; Photos contributed by Eric Rehorst and Lawrence Ellerbruch.


Summer 2016:

NCLL participants recently took a road/field trip to thriving area of Bark River. While it was a bit of a rocky start it turned out to be a great day. Our first stop was the Ten Mile Forge and Gift Shop which is nestled in a beautiful setting. George is a world renown blackswinery photomith whose specialty is making knives out of Damascus steel, hand carved scrimshaw handles and sheaths.  The demonstration was impressive and we quickly learned he is a true artist, a wealth of knowledge as well as a good story teller.  We were “shaking our heads” in awe trying to process it all.   Maureen’s unique Irish/Celtic Gift shop is small but full of not only George’s handiwork but local jewelry, artwork, pottery, etc. Learn more at

 We then headed for the Home Base Restaurant and Bar for a tasty lunch including Theresa’s home-made rhubarb/strawberry pie and rhubarb torte and I managed to get the recipe for it. Stop in when in that area. On to the Northern Sun Winery owned and operated by Dave and Sue Anthony, where the 4000 vines that make up over 5.2 acres of the farm are used to make their special blends such as the “Rhubarb,” the “Marquette” and the “Brianna.”  They have found just the right grape varieties that grow in the local soil and climate and have already won international wine awards for their LaCrescent wine. We toured the vineyard, saw where and how the grapes were processed, and of course had an opportunity to taste and purchase wine.  Susie’s enthusiasm is infectious and the staff is truly a part of the winery. They also host a summer concert series which would be great to attend.  Check them out at

By Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison


A few photos from the past

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