Bus to the past

Perry Hatch and the Boy Scouts are pictured at the Bart King Memorial on Sugarloaf Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE — Do you love local history? Would you like to learn more about our city’s past? Will you have summer guests who would enjoy discovering our region’s historical roots?

The Marquette Regional History Center is hosting its eighth season of Historic Marquette Bus Tours. These ninety-minute tours, featuring costumed interpreters reenacting important moments from Marquette’s history, have become a favorite summer activity for locals and visitors alike. They are also an important source of financial support for our in-house education department, which serves approximately 2,500 students per year who come to the History Center on school field trips.

This year’s bus tour will include fresh and fascinating vignettes from different decades of Marquette’s history. Join us to deepen your understanding of how Marquette developed into the vibrant community it is today.

Riders on this year’s bus tours will encounter Perry Hatch (1888-1975), a local banker who helped organize the first Boy Scout Troop in Michigan in 1910. The audience will meet him in 1921, when he led efforts to build a memorial to his fallen friend and fellow Boy Scout organizer Bart King (1894-1918) on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. The original leaders of Michigan’s Troop 1 enlisted in the military during World War I. All came home except King. The monument on Sugar Loaf still stands as a testament to the friendship and comradery shared by these Michigan Scouting pioneers.

Bus tours will meet Caroline Rankin (1864-1945), who wrote under the name Carroll Watson Rankin, feeling that she was more likely to get noticed if she used a traditionally male name. She will tell the crowd about her success with Dandelion Cottage (published in 1904). The book, based on life in Marquette, made Rankin a regionally famous children’s author. Rankin took inspiration from a charming cottage, owned by the Episcopal Church, which local girls used as a playhouse.

Patrons will also learn about the local history of medicine in Marquette, hearing from health professionals who cared for the community in past generations. Nurses, often overlooked for their vital place in the healthcare industry, will describe health issues that affected Marquette citizens in different decades. They will discuss the flu epidemic in 1918, the treatment of polio in 1940, and the important services of Bay Cliff and Planned Parenthood in 1973.

Bus riders will meet Frank Stolpe (1870-1946), superintendent of St. Luke’s Hospital. In his 45 years of working at St. Luke’s, Frank served the hospital in a myriad of roles. Frank was known for his energetic personality and dedication to patient comfort.

Soon after it was founded in 1896, St. Luke’s expanded into a two-story building with no elevator. Frank used to carry patients up the stairs on his back. Born and raised in Finland, Stolpe acted as an interpreter for Marquette County’s large Finnish immigrant population. He also worked as an anesthesiologist, and calmed frightened children before surgery by promising to pay them a penny for every number they could count before falling asleep.

Frank Stolpe will describe the difficulty in treating children with polio in the Upper Peninsula during the 1940 outbreak. Since commercial respirators were exceedingly expensive and difficult to obtain, local innovators Maxwell Reynolds (1885-1952) and Lowell Reynolds (1916-1997) developed crate-like respirators. Affectionately known as ‘wooden lungs’ or ‘crate lungs’, these Marquette-crafted respirators incorporated common household items in their design. They were timed with record players, and relied on vacuum cleaners to create suction. Polio-stricken children from all over the region were rushed to Marquette to be treated with these wooden lungs.

Come explore Marquette’s past in air-conditioned comfort. Tickets are limited and usually sell out well in advance, so book yours today. Thanks to First Bank, Landmark Inn, Upper Peninsula Health System, and Wealth Strategies Group for supporting this year’s bus tours, and to Checker Transport for providing bus services. We are grateful that local businesses know how much our rich local history makes Marquette a uniquely appealing destination.

Afternoon bus tours will be offered at 1 p.m. on July 30, Aug. 6, and Aug. 13.

Evening bus tours will begin at 6 p.m. on July 24, July 31, Aug. 7, and Aug. 14. All tours meet at the History Center, 145 W. Spring St.

Call 906-226-3571 or go to MarquetteHistory.org for more information.


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