Wednesday, September 10, 2014
This 19th Century, well preserved town, was most industrious. They manufactured charcoal pig iron here from 1867 to 1891, along with lime. Now in a State Historic Park, visitors can take a walking tour among 20 original structures, including eleven buildings with museum displays and plenty of scenic views of this harbor town of yesterday.
In 1882 the company announced it would build a lime kiln to manufacture lime used in mortar for masonry, chinking for log houses and plaster for interior walls. The excess was sold to Escanaba, which was a two day trip by stage, or 3 hours by boat across Big Bay de Noc. In the winter, when the lake froze, residents could ride a stage sled across to Escanaba.
Fayette's central business district separated the have from have nots. Trademen and Supervisors along with their families lived in comfortable frame houses, while simple log homes were taken along the hill, road and shoreline by the unskilled laboring class on the other side of town.
We found the walking tour great! You'll want to allow for a couple of hours to see the entire town and its surroundings. Along the tour you'll find a reconstructed Charcoal Kiln that was used to make fuel for the large furnaces still standing. By the mid 1880's there were over eighty charcoal kilns in the area run by the company.
We found this historic park well worth the price of admission to see a bit of history at your own leisure. They've done a great job of maintaining and reconstructing the buildings that are left, with plenty of information to give you a real sense of what life was like here. For more information see their official website HERE.
Photo Blog HERE.
While in this area we stayed at Vagabond Resort just outside of Rapid River, MI. This is an older RV Park, and though it looks a little run down, we found the management and WIFI to be excellent! Very helpful and friendly atmosphere, although we probably wouldn't choose this park without the Passport rate. (Around $27 normal, $13 Passport).
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Another quick stop found us in Menomonee Falls. A suburb of Milwaukee, it was
established in 1892 on the Menomonee River, which the city has damned creating a water fall. The downtown area has kept it's historic charm despite the influx of population from the city over the years.
The region around the confluence of three rivers, the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic, into Lake Michigan, was originally inhabited by several Native American tribes, including the Fox, Winnebago, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Sauk, Menominee and Mascouten. European missionaries and traders were passing through by the late 17th and early 18th century. French Canadian Alexis Laframboise established a trading post here in 1785.
The rivers saw the first official European settlements around 1818, with French Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau establishing Juneautown. It was in competition with two others that formed quickly after, Kilbourntown and Walkers Point.
The name Milwaukee comes from a Native word meaning "Gathering place by the water", and was known in the early days as Milwacky, Milwarck, Milwauki and even Melleorki.
Polish immigrants too had and impact on the city, especially in its churches, with steeples that dot the skyline providing some beautiful views with breathtaking architecture. Milwaukee boasts the fifth largest Polish population in the U.S. to this day (around 45,000), but it was as high as 100,000 in 1915.
Other nations' immigrants were also attracted to the city on Lake Michigan, and by 1910 Milwaukee was tied with New York City as having the largest percentage of foreign born residents in the U.S.
Today the city is home to the headquarters of six Fortune 500 companies including Harley-Davidson, Joy Global, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, Manpower, and Northwestern Mutual. Other companies based here including Briggs & Stratton, Master Lock, GE Healthcare and others.
We couldn't take a brewery tour at Miller Valley due to some electrical problems during our visit, however we especially enjoyed our time around the old Pabst Brewery with it's many buildings abandoned for years. It gave us a glimpse of the past we wouldn't have just months from now, as these old buildings appear to be slated for demolition soon.
There is a lot to see and do in this city, whether touring the famous brewery's, enjoying the many attractions downtown, or even a dip in Lake Michigan on one of the beaches. Oh, and of course there is baseball and the Brewers (I know, there are other sports here too). Depending on your cup of tea, this could be a weekend long adventure, or you could just be a drive through history buff like us and spend a day taking in the architecture and sites. We don't normally do large cities and like to write about the smaller places in American History the most, but what ever your taste, there is something for everyone in Milwaukee.
See our visit to the Milwaukee area in images and read more about the history, including that of the famous breweries, in each photo's description via our Photo Blog HERE.
While in this area we stayed at Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds in one of their 18 full hookup sites. $20 a night, and only a few other campers there. Not a place if you are into scenery, but was great for our purposes. No wifi, but we had excellent AT&T data here (4Glte). Fond du Lac has a lot to see and is fairly large compared to what we typically do. The downtown has a market on certain days, and there's lots of history in this area. Appears it is sometimes difficult to get into a spot at this fairground. As of this writing you really need to arrive when they are in the office. If not, you may be without a key to unlock electric and water. We were lucky as there is Donny, a great RV'er that stays there a lot and actually was given the key to help others with. He had to leave though for the weekend and we saw more than one camper pull up and leave shortly after. We were told in the office that they are considering upgrading their on-line reservation system and campground next year with new procedures that will eliminate this problem.