Programs on the history of Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes Region
Specializing in programs about Michigan’s pine lumber industry, reforestation and conservation, and the Civilian Conservation Corps. I can tailor programs to meet your specific needs.
I’ve Moved! Due to a recent move to Southeastern Michigan, programs are currently not being offered through North Country History. Sorry for any inconvenience.
A selection of programs:
- Green Gold! Logging the White Pine was Michigan’s wealthiest and most important industry in the 19th Century. Michigan’s white pine helped to build the transcontinental railroad, towns and farms in the Midwest, rebuilding Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire, and was also shipped to Europe. In this program, the audience will learn about the importance of the white pine lumber industry, the work of the “shantyboys”, life in the logging camps, and how Michigan was affected by the lumber industry. 60 minute program. Can be done as a power point program or with props, photographs and period costume. This is a great program for all ages. This one can also be tailored as a basic school program.
- River Drives & River Hogs. Michigan’s numerous rivers were the perfect highways to move logs from the forests of Northern Michigan to the saw mills along the Great Lakes. These annual river drives occurred after the spring thaw each year. The men who worked the river drives were known as “River Hogs” and were usually the toughest, most skilled, and best men in the woods. The audience will learn about the importance of the river drives, the river hogs and their work, and about how they forever changed the rivers of Northern Michigan. 60 minute program. Can be done as a power point or with props, photographs, and period costume. This is a great program for all ages.
- In a Michigan Lumber Camp. This is geared towards elementary school groups and introduces the students to life in a Northern Michigan lumber camp of the late 19th century and the work that was involved in logging. This is a hands-on program with many historic and reproduction tools and artifacts and photographs that the students can handle and touch. Audience participation is encouraged. The historical interpreter/educator appears in historic costume for this program. 60 minute program.
- Lumber, Lakes, and Lighthouses. Michigan’s unique geography, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, made it the most opportune location to take the lead in the lucrative pine lumber industry of the 19th Century. The additional traffic of lumber schooners and barges helped to create the need for lighthouses for the aid in navigation along the lakes. The audience will be introduced to the importance of the white pine lumber industry of Michigan and the Great Lakes region, and explains the important role the Great Lakes and Michigan’s lighthouses played in the lumber industry. 60 minute program. This is a power point program. This program is suitable for lighthouses and maritime museums.
- Deward: Last of the Lumber Boomtowns. As Michigan’s white pine lumber era came to a close at the beginning of the twentieth century, there was a race to get the last of the big trees cut before they were gone. The logging community of Deward was one of the last boomtowns in Michigan to take advantage of one of the largest remaining stands of large white pine. The story of David Ward, the “Pine King” as he was known to his contemporaries and the creation of the town named for him is one of the most interesting of the White Pine Era. This program traces the end of one of Michigan’s greatest industries through the story of this isolated ghost town on the upper reaches of the Manistee River. 60 minute program. This is a power point program. This program is suitable for museums, historical societies, libraries, and other groups.
- Timbercruiser Campfire Programs. The timbercruiser was the man who scouted the forests for future logging operations. In this program, groups will meet a timbercruiser who is out in the woods looking at standing timber and for a future logging camp location. Rob Burg, as the timbercruiser, will join you at the campfire to tell stories about logging in the area and to tell some lumberjack tall tales. 60 minute program. Perfect for scouts and other camping groups. This is a first-person interpretive program.
- A Conversation with Nels Michelson.Nels Michelson was a remarkable man who rose to prominence from humble beginnings.He came to the United States as a penniless immigrant from Denmark in the 1860s, settling in Manistee, Michigan, where with fellow Danes Rasmus Hanson and Ernest Salling, he became one of the leading lumbermen in Michigan by the start of the 20th Century. From their headquarters in Grayling, with businesses such as the Salling, Hanson, and Company, and the Michelson, Hanson Lumber Company, these men cut the last of the great pine forests in the Lower Peninsula. Michelson’s post lumber ventures included the development of the city of Ferndale, just north of Detroit. The legacy of Nels Michelson includes the donation of one of Michigan’s premier state parks by his daughter Karen Michelson Hartwick as a memorial to her husband Edward Hartwick. Rob Burg portrays Nels Michelson in this program and will appear in period costume and use props to discuss the life and career of one of Michigan’s great lumber barons. 30-45 minute program. This program is suitable for museums and libraries.
- The Legacy of the CCC in Michigan.In 1933, as the country was in the grips of the Great Depression, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of his “New Deal” to put the nation back onto good economic standing. The CCC worked in the outdoors and did much to improve and create national parks and state and local parks, plant forests, fight wildfires, restore fish and wildlife habit, and much more. In Michigan, more than 102,000 ‘CCC Boys’ lived in 125 camps throughout Michigan replanted our state’s once great forests, created Isle Royale National Park and numerous state parks, manned fire towers and built Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Not only did these men help Michigan’s environment and natural resources, but many completed their high school education, received training in vocational and skilled trades, and helped their families financially. 60 minute program. This power point program is ideally suited for age groups from high school students to senior citizens.
- The Reforestation of Michigan: A Century of Conservation. The downside of Michigan’s great lumber industry was the loss of the forests and the environmental devastation that followed. By the dawn of the 20th Century it was realized that something needed to be done and the birth of reforestation began. From an embryonic start with the creation of two state forest reserves and the state forestry nursery at Higgins Lake, the largest state forest system in the United States and four national forests would cover much of the two peninsulas with pine and hardwood forests. The audience will learn why reforestation was necessary and how these forests were started. The Higgins Lake Nursery and the birth of forest fire prevention will be highlighted and the audience will learn why reforestation and conservation is necessary to maintain a healthy environment and how it helps to support Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry. 60 minute program. This is a power point program and is great for nature centers, outdoors organizations, and civic groups.
- Living History Programs. North Country History is available to present authentic lumber history educational programs and activities at museum living history events and reenactments. One to two living history interpreters will present Great Lakes lumber history through either a river drivers’ or timbercruiser’s camp and feature the tools and equipment of logging. Activities may include too demonstrations and log sawing. Great for Timeline Events. Cost to be determined.
The standard cost is $150 per program, plus mileage from Frederic, MI (just north of Grayling). Programs that require travel of more than one hundred miles (one way) or lodging will include an additional cost. For multiple programs, a discounted fee can be negotiated. I will try to work within your budget as much as possible. Please contact Rob Burg for more information. Living History programs costs will be determined based on length of event and the number of interpreters involved.
Alfred P. Sloan Museum
Ann Arbor Ski Club
Aspen Ridge School, Ishpeming, Michigan
AuSable Primary School, Grayling, Michigan
AuSable River Recreation Expo
Big Rock Elementary School, Chesaning, Michigan
Camp Ocqueoc/Onaway Public Library
Cherry Creek Elementary School, Marquette, Michigan
Chippewa Nature Center
Clark Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan
Crawford County Center on Aging
Devereaux Memorial Library, Grayling, Michigan
Fife Lake Historical Society
Frankenmuth Conservation Club
Frederic Community Library
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Gilbert Elementary School, Gwinn, Michigan
Grand Rapids Public Library
Grayling Elementary School
Grayling Kiwanis Club
Grayling Rotary Club
Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Harbor Springs Historical Museum
Hartwick Pines Logging Museum
Historic White Pine Village
Houghton Lake Historical Society
Iosco County Historical Museum
Lovells Township Historical Society
Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center, Huron National Forest
Mancelona Historical Society
Mason County Historical Society
Michelson Memorial Church Men’s Group, Grayling, Michigan
Michigan CCC Museum
Michigan Iron Industry Museum
Michigan Historical Museum
Michigan Maritime Museum
Midland County Historical Museum
Midwest Open-Air Museums Coordinating Council
National Cherry Festival
Northland Sportsman Club
Ogemaw County Genealogical and Historical Society
Otsego County District Library
Paul Bunyan Days Festival
Ralph A. McMullan DNR Conference Center
Richardson Elementary School, Oscoda, Michigan
Roscommon Historical Society
Sawyer Elementary School, Gwinn, Michigan
Senior Services of Midland County
Tawas Point Lighthouse
Thunderbird Ski Club
Tri-County Horse Association
U.S. Forest Service
Walker Tavern Historic Complex
Wellington Farm U.S.A.
Wolverine Lumberjack Festival