History’s Gem of the Month: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Proposal Part 1

June 2008

While combing through the museum’s archives, I recently came across the original proposal for creating the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which was established by legislation passed in 1966. Grand Marais is the eastern entrance to the national park. I will relay interesting information from the report beginning this month, and continuing in the next month or so. For brevity, I will edit and shorten some of the sections.

Introduction and Summary

The National Park Service first became concerned with the Pictured Rocks area in 1957-58 during the Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey. In the survey report released in 1960, the area was rated as one of the five areas on the Great Lakes of national significance. In June 1961, legislation was first introduced calling for establishment of the park.

The Pictured Rocks — multicolored sandstone cliffs, 50 to 200 feet high, and stretching about 15 miles along the shore of Lake Superior — have long been a major tourist attraction. But, although they are the dominant attraction of this region, people also come to see and enjoy the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes, the Beaver Basin, the picturesque inland lakes, and the numerous waterfalls.

With each season of the year having its own particular visitor attraction — forest wildflowers in spring, cool forests and lakes in summer, yellow birches and scarlet sugar maples in autumn, and snowscapes in winter — the area would no doubt receive year-round use.

The proposed lakeshore would be developed for the optimum use and enjoyment by the public. A minimum land area of approximately 28,000 acres, referred to as the shoreline zone, is deemed essential for protection, development and use of the primary features of the area. This shoreline zone is a continuous strip along Lake Superior, from Munising to Grand Marais, averaging about 1.4 mile in width.


The Department of the Interior recommends:

  1. Establishment, as a unit of the National Park System, of a Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore lying between Munising and Grand Marais, Michigan.
  2. Acquisition by the Federal Government of a 28,000-acrea lakeshore zone.
  3. Designation of a 39,000-acre buffer zone to provide protection of the watersheds and the forest setting.
  4. Construction by the National Park Service of a non-commercial scenic road to facilitate circulation within the lakeshore.
  5. Designation of the Beaver Basin as a natural area, containing only trails and minimum facilities necessary for the visitor’s enjoyment.
  6. Construction of a hiking trail along the entire length with hiker’s campgrounds at convenient locations.
  7. Emphasis is given to providing public use facilities which encourage enjoyment through observation and appreciation of its natural values.
  8. Hunting and fishing in accordance with applicable Federal and state laws.


Private developments within the area are located principally at Miners Beach, Grand Sable, and Beaver Lakes. Of the 164 structures within the proposed lakeshore, 60 percent are seasonal cabins, 25 percent non-farm residence, 2 percent farms, 7 percent commercial, and 6 percent miscellaneous buildings.

Land Ownership

The proposed area would contain about 67,376 acres of land and inland lakes. About 6,320 acres of water in Lake Superior are included within the boundaries. Categories of land ownership are:

Owner Shoreline Zone Buffer Zone Total
Federal 781 1,572 2,353
State 5,140 14,911 20,051
Other Public 77 4 81
Private 22,440 20,868 43,126
Inland Water area 1,765
Lake Superior area 6,320

Total Acres of proposed National Lakeshore 73,696

Note: To be continued next month

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