By JACKIE STARK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - Cliffs Natural Resources is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the LS&I ore dock in Marquette's Upper Harbor with a weekend of festivities centered around the Flagship Niagara, a replica of a tall ship.
Above, the Flagship Niagara heads into Marquette’s Lower Harbor Friday as a part of Cliffs Natural Resources celebration of the 100th year of the LS&I ore dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor. Below, a crowd gathers to look over the Flagship Niagara as it docks next to Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The public will be able to tour the tall ship replica from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for $5 for adults and $2 for kids 12 years old and younger. (Journal photos by Jackie Stark)
"We wanted something the community could see," said Dale Hemmila, director of North American public affairs for Cliffs. "Tall ships are always impressive."
The ship sailed into Marquette Bay Friday afternoon, with scores of area residents lining the shoreline to welcome her in.
The ship will remain in Marquette through the weekend, with public tours available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday The tour will cost $5 for adults and $2 for kids 12 years old and younger. All proceeds will go to the Marquette Maritime Museum.
The ship was closed to the public Friday evening for a private reception for area business owners and it will also be closed to the public today for a private reception for Cliffs employees and their families.
Hemmila said he hoped the ship would help people connect mining with shipping, two big industries in the local economy.
"It's important for us to be able to recognize the significance of the dock in Marquette," Hemmila said. "We want to remind people throughout Marquette County of the importance of mining and shipping."
People don't always think of the mining and shipping industry as working hand in hand, Hemmila said, adding that he hoped having the tall ship in town might help people make the connection.
The tall ship is a replica of the original Niagara, a War of 1812 battleship. And in true battleship style, the Niagara fired a cannon near the LS&I ore dock Friday afternoon, to the delight of many onlookers as well as the ships roughly 60 passengers. The ship sailed Friday from Munising to Marquette and included passengers from Cliffs and Big Brothers Big Sisters, among others.
Cliffs employees Teresa and Spike Kemp of Negaunee spent the day on the tall ship. Both said the roughly 9-hour trip was extraordinary.
"It was wonderful," Spike said. "It was very informative. The captain and crew were awesome, lots of history. Of course, we had the salute at the LS&I dock."
Teresa said it was nice to have the kids on board as well, and said the captain assured any anxious passengers that seasickness would not be a problem. With nearly 300 tons of ship under their feet, the waves had little impact.
"(The captain said) 'Today, you don't have to worry about that,' " she said. "And we didn't."
The Flagship Niagara will shove off Monday as part of its previously scheduled summer program, which includes a three-week voyage back to its homeport at the Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, Penn.
The voyage incorporates a strong science theme and will visit some environmentally significant locations on Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
The ship is operated by the Flagship Niagara League and owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Those interested in participating in the ship's summer sailing program can call 814-452-2744, extension 223 or by emailing email@example.com.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.