NEGAUNEE — For almost two decades, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee has been hosting Iron Ore and the Civil War. It’s an event designed to tell the story of Michigan’s contribution to the Civil War, both in manpower and resources like iron ore.
“People forget that you need the materials to make the cannons, to make the shells, to make the guns, to make everything else, and this was crucial for that four year period from 1861 to 1865,” said Interpretive Historian Mike Deren.
“In the U.P., the Lake Superior iron ranges really kind of got on their feet during the Civil War. Prior to that time, a lot of the mine companies had struggled,” said Troy Henderson, Historian at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.
This year, the museum tried to do something a little bit different with the program.
“This year we decided to do this in October so school groups could come for a day and go through several educational activities and musical performances and Battery D, which is a living history encampment, and learn about what life was like during the Civil War,” Henderson added.
“This is a little bit of an experiment,” said Jim Newkirk of Battery D. “The idea was to wait until schools were in session, then have a Friday program for any school groups that were interested, and then a Saturday program for the public, and then Sunday, we’ll lick our wounds and head for home back below the bridge.”
Students from four Marquette County schools enjoyed music from the era, heard stories, viewed military equipment, and actively participated while learning more about the life of a Civil War soldier. The day’s excitement ended with a blast.
“Without question, the star of the show weighs 2,100 pounds and speaks with authority,” added Newkirk.
Day two of Iron Ore in the Civil War will run between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, and it is free and open to the public. In addition to music and Battery D demonstrations, visitors will also be treated to a screening of an award-winning documentary about Company K, the only all-Native American Civil War unit in the north. The film will play at 11:00 a.m. in the museum’s auditorium.