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Talk with the Doc: Grand Marais: A great place to visit

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

One of my favorite U. P. sites to periodically visit is Grand Marias.

It is located right on Lake Superior and has a beautiful harbor in the downtown area. Obviously, it is a wonderful place to visit in the Summer, and in the Fall season the beauty of the changing colors of the leaves are very beautiful as well. It is also a very popular location for our winter snowmobilers. It is also home to a very popular campsite, located right on Lake Superior and every time I drive past this site, it always seems to be very full.

The historic village of Grand Marais is located on the south shore of Lake Superior at the Eastern gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Many people come to enjoy the waterfalls and the lighthouses to be viewed along the pristine Lake Superior shoreline. Visitors come to hike and bike on various trails, to relax on the beaches, to step back in time and visit the museums. Whether you enjoy water sports, winter sports, or are just looking for a relaxing getaway, Grand Marais has something for everyone. You can also enjoy the sand dunes and Grand Sable Lake located just west of Grand Marais.

Grand Marais is one of the oldest places that was a location named on the Great Lakes. The name of Grand Marais is the French language for “big marsh”, which is a bit puzzling as there is no large marsh site in this area. Early in the history of the Grand Marais area, the Chippewa Native Americans fished along the Lake Superior shoreline for many years.

Settlers began to arrive in Grand Marais in the 1860s. As more and more people began to discover this marvelous Grand Marais area, a trading post was subsequently established at the Eastern end of the bay. At about this time, in the 1860s and 1870s, many commercial fishing boats began to fill the waters, and by the 1880s, the lumbermen began to move into the Grand Marais area. A railroad line was then established from Seney to Grand Marais, and Grand Marais boomed as a lumber town between 1885 and 1910.

At its peak, approximately 3,000 people lived here. By 1911, the boom was over, the railroad tracks were taken up, and the population dwindled to only about 200 residents. Lean years followed, until a resurgence of commercial fishing and the opening of Highway M-77 in the 1920s brought more prosperity. More and more tourists then began to discover the natural beauty of the Grand Marais area. Eventually, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore opened in 1966, and today Grand Marais continues to be a very popular tourist destination.

Grand Marais remains a very popular site to visit all year long for people to visit and enjoy summer and winter sports, Fall color tours, camping, and to enjoy this marvelous location right on Lake Superior. They have a very informative website that will give you additional information about Grand Marais. Their website is: www.grandmaraismichigan.com. As you might imagine, this is an additional great location to visit to enjoy our great Upper Peninsula. I encourage you to check out the Grand Marais area, and I am sure you will be glad you did.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books.Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.

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