Anderton Trail System dedicated

This sign commemorates the late John B. Anderton, for whom the new Anderton Trail System at Presque Isle Park is named. Anderton was a professor at Northern Michigan University and author of a book about Presque Isle. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The trails inside Presque Isle Park have been there for quite a while, but now they have a name: the John B. Anderton Trail System.

Anderton was a popular geography professor and head of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences at Northern Michigan University who died in 2014 at age 49.

Jon Swenson, assistant director of community services for the city of Marquette, spoke at a Monday dedication ceremony of the Anderton Trail System, which took place along Peter White Drive near Chief Charlie Kawbawgam’s gravesite.

Anderton died while cross-country skiing on the Fit Strip, said Swenson said, who noted that one of the things he loved more than that was Presque Isle Park.

In fact, he wrote a book, “The Jewel in the Crown: An Environmental History of Presque Isle Park, Marquette, Michigan,” which detailed various aspects of the popular natural site.

This is the late John B. Anderton, the namesake of a new trail system on Presque Isle Park. Anderton was a professor at Northern Michigan University and author of a book about Presque Isle. (Photo courtesy of Northern Michigan University)

“John was very, very passionate about this, and after his sudden and sad passing, it came to us at the city that we ought to do something to honor his love of the island,” Anderton said. “The book talks about his memories, going all the way back to his earliest memories being in this place, so I think that speaks to the gravity and the depth of his passion here.”

Swenson said city staff, as well as the Presque Isle Advisory Committee and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, have worked for several years to create the Anderton Trail System, which now has a new sign commemorating the trails.

Marquette Mayor Dave Campana was one of the speakers at the dedication.

“He did many things to make Marquette a better city,” Campana said. “Presque Isle Park is where he liked to be, and it was very important for him, and he did many things to make this better for others.”

Another speaker was Martin Reinhardt, NMU Native American Studies professor, who said Anderton understood the relationship history between native and non-native people.

“He cared deeply about that,” Reinhardt said.

“I think it really troubled him. He really wanted good relations.”

Anderton also was the first to step up and offer to give a Native American youth program, he said.

“He got so excited, and he got kids excited,” Reinhardt said. “He got me excited, and, you know, he was just a really lovable guy, and I really do miss him. He’s one of those colleagues you’ll never forget.

“I’m glad that as we walk these trails now, you know, we’re going to remember him even more.”

Reinhardt has at least one particularly special memory of Anderton — one that took place at Presque Isle Park.

“He said, ‘You know, I’d like to think that my ancestors and your ancestors had a good conversation about being native and non-native and being here, and how we can live together.’ He said, ‘That’s what I want.’

“And I was like, ‘Man, that’s deep.’ And it touched you right there.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.