History’s Gem of the Month – Gitchee Agomowin
I have hundreds of documents in the museum’s archives, all saved by the museum founder (Axel Niemi) and his family. One of the items I have is a copy of The Alger Echo, a newspaper published by James Carter. The following article was included in the Fall 1969 issue, Vol I, No 9.
In early times, man stayed close to the shore when traveling on Lake Superior; Their light crafts were no match for the lake in its angry moods. Indians and early French knew well the sheltered spot they both called Great Bay or Grat Harbor – “Gitchee Agomowin” in the Chippewa language, and Grand Marais in French.
Use of the harbor on the long stretch of shelter-less coast began centuries before recorded history. Activity there was noted in earliest French accounts, and it was mentioned frequently by most travelers from that time on.
The first white man to record his visit at Grand Marais was Pierre Espirit Radisson in the summer of 1658. Many expeditions followed, and about 200 years later, in 1853, a permanent settlement was established. Fur trading, then commercial fishing and lumbering were responsible for the beginnings and development of the Grand Marais area during its early decades. It became Alger County’s largest and fastest growing town during the pine lumber-boom of the 1880s.
After a sharp decline in 1910 following the abandonment of the Manistique Railway, Grand Marais settled into a small but stable village where fishing and lumbering and later, tourism, provided a livelihood for this historic and beautiful community.
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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839