National Park Service donates lifeboat to museum

EAGLE HARBOR —¬†While the National Park Service is preparing for its summer tourism season, tourists will also be able to explore a piece of it’s past that’s presently on display, while awaiting the construction of it’s future home.

It’s seven hour trip from the Houghton Dock to the island itself, and the Ranger III is the primary vessel that takes passengers and their cargo take to the park. As you can imagine, this is a complicated piece of machinery that’s very well maintained and kept up to date.

Recently, the park replaced all of its life rafts with newer models in compliance with new Coast Guard requirements. So, what happens to the old ones?

“[The Keweenaw Historical Society] was notified to see if we had any interest in one of the life boats that they had on the Ranger, and we thought it was an offer that we shouldn’t refuse because there’s potential in the future the maybe we can launch it and use it for public demonstration and take it out for a little roll with the public,” said Mark Rowe, maritime chairman of the Keweenaw County Historical Society.

This is one of the four life vessels retired from 60 years of service on the Ranger III. It will be on display complimenting the Keweenaw’s heritage at the Lifesaving Station Museum at the Eagle Harbor Marina.

“The other three boats from the Ranger III, I believe one is going to be displayed at in Houghton at the National Park Service. I was told one may be going out to Isle Royal, possibly on Rock Harbor. The fourth one they’ve got a number of organizations interested but they haven’t decided yet where they’ll put it,” said Rowe.

Rowe, who along with the help of a couple volunteers, hauled the life boat and its gear to the museum where a permanent setting will be created for it. Currently, the boat is on a trailer outside the museum, where it received a few decorations.

The permanent display is expected to be completed within the next couple of years.

“At least we have a place to put it for some time here until we get a better display set up with some explanation as to why it’s here,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Committee is staying busy preparing for the opening of the season. The museum will open for Father’s Day weekend, and admission is free.