Nestled away behind an unsuspecting store front on Western Avenue in Downtown Muskegon, you will find a lesson that should be learned by all of us. Yes, there are bars and restaurants....breweries and pizza places....some business and apartments that line Western Avenue but there is one very unique and very important place that shows off what life was like in Muskegon for the people here and the work they did over the years. The Muskegon Heritage Museum is the place and although it's location and setting is a little unexpected, the history and exhibits are amazing and rich in the history of us!
The Muskegon Heritage Corporation was founded in 1973 and in 1983 the museum itself was established to house the Corliss Valve 90hp Steam Engine. It's been a labor of love done by countless volunteers since and in 2009 a revitalization project began with the entire museum adding space next door, up a flight of stairs and expanding over and over to accommodate the items preserved to help us preserve our industry, our homes, historic happenings and people in Muskegon. You'll find an ode to those who harvested ice from Mona Lake. You'll see an actual working Brunswick Pin Setter. There is the Corliss Steam Engine... Raggedy Ann....Lumber...Foundries...Continental Motors...Bennett Pump. The list goes on and on, and yes...you might eve find some more of the odd-ball things like celery farms and a butchers block from a long forgotten staple in every neighborhood...the corner store.
Today, for a $5 admission for adults and $2 for kids, you can stroll the museum and see first hand all of the incredible things we're known for. Our famous ships...our long gone industries and ones that are still here, but have changed names over time or have recently become part of our history, like the Cobb Plant. They have just added a 1:300th scale model of the entire plant from about 1965 when it actually had 5 smoke stacks instead of the one big one. Some of the exhibits have a hands on element and others are strictly for observing, but they all give you a feeling of days gone by and what life was like in the era they represent up till today.
Anne Dake invited me down to see the new displays on opening day. I was given a tour of the place just before the doors open for the season and brought the camera along to give you a peek as well as talk to Anne about her passion for all things Muskegon and our rich history of good people who've worked so hard to make us who we are. Take a listen.
Hey, there's your free tour. Now, it's up to you. Pack up the kids and check it out. You can enjoy lunch right next door at the 557 Cafe or any of the other fine eateries on Western. You'll see some things you may have forgotten about and you'll be able to share with your kids what it was like to visit the corner store. We have an amazing place in the Muskegon Heritage Museum, if you're coming in from out of town, don't miss this. Come see for yourself that there is a rich and vibrant heritage in Muskegon matched by an outstanding path forward and it's all taken care of by people like Ann and her volunteers who LOVE MUSKEGON just like we do. To visit the Muskegon Heritage Museum online, click on the photo below!