Marquette is a major port city on Michigan’s Lake Superior, known primarily for iron ore shipping. The land around Marquette was known to French missionaries of the early 17th century and the trappers of the early 19th century. Development of the area did not begin until 1844 when iron deposits near Teal Lake west of Marquette were discovered. In 1845, Jackson Mining Company, the first organized mining company in the region, was formed.
The village of Marquette began on September 14, 1849, with the formation of a second iron concern, the Marquette Iron Company. The village was at first called New Worcester; the name was changed to honor, the French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette who had explored the region.
During the 1850s, Marquette was linked by rail to numerous mines and became the leading shipping center of the Upper Peninsula. The first ore pocket dock was built by the Cleveland Iron Mining Company in 1859. In the late 19th century, during the height of iron mining, Marquette became nationally known as a summer haven. Visitors brought in by Great Lakes passenger steamships filled the city’s hotels and resorts. Marquette continues to be a shipping port for hematite ores and enriched iron ore pellets, from nearby mines and pelletizing plants.
Transportation Marquette has daily flights to Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. The city is served by a public transit system which runs buses through the city and daily intercity bus service to Milwaukee.
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Maritime Museums in Historic Towns
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The Marquette Maritime Museum Association began in 1980. The Museum was opened in the old City Waterworks building in the summer of 1984. The building is a one story, stone, hipped-roof Richardsonian Romanesque style structure. Area school kids learn their local maritime history as well as guests from all over the United States and around the world.
The Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck launched in 1958 on the River Rouge from the Great Lakes Engineering Works, the Fitzgerald set out on her final trip from Superior, Wisconsin in 1975, heading for a routine trip to Detroit, Michigan. During the day, the weather had gotten vicious causing 90 mph winds and 30-foot waves; the ship was lost with all hands. The wreck site was later found in 530 feet on the lake floor.
The McClintock Annex focuses on the story of US subs Darter and Dace and their role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest sea battle in history. The Annex is named for Captain David McClintock, USN, Retired, a Marquette native and commander of the Darter.
Stannard Rock Marquette Coast Guard Station provided the support necessary for Stannard’s Rock Lighthouse. The 110-foot sandstone tower was built on a desolate reef first discovered in 1847. Located 44 miles due north of Marquette, its lightkeepers called it the “loneliest place in North America” since it is the most distant lighthouse from land on the entire continent. The old Stannard’s Rock lens is now on display in the Marquette Maritime Museum.
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