Courtesy of the Anuta Research Center
An advertisement from almost 100 years ago that was published in Cloverland Magazine.
Courtesy of the Anuta Research Center

An advertisement from almost 100 years ago that was published in Cloverland Magazine.

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Economic development seems to be two magic words whenever community leaders are discussing ways to advance and promote life in their municipalities. Politicians and nonpolitical civic leaders come and go over time and the style of promoting economic development changes.

Marinette and Menominee counties have economic development on the table of discussion at the moment. It’s an issue that requires open dialogue and a fierce determination to advance the cause. It also requires a willingness to invest money in professional consulting firms who have the wisdom and experience to help guide the project.

Present-day exchanges of ideas and opinions are no different than community leaders ran up against nearly a century ago. A 1922 edition of Cloverland Magazine details the obstacles they faced and the spirit they applied with those challenges.

For those readers unfamiliar with the Cloverland publication, it was considered “a dominant agricultural publication of the Northwest.” Published since 1903, the 1922 editions were produced by Roger M. Andrews, a dynamic newspaper publisher and editor of the Menominee Herald-Leader who also served as president and publisher of Cloverland Magazine. It was published once a month and subscribers paid $1 a year. Advertising revenues were the backbone of its survival and its widespread circulation throughout the 15-county Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin.

Andrews editorialized in one of the issues under the heading, “200,000 Tourists Are Coming.” The editorial covered three full columns.

“Information from all districts where people tour indicates that preparations are being made to entertain, during 1922, the largest number of tourists of any season in history,” the editorial began. “These preparations are in proportion to the amount of advertising that has been done and will be done for the next sixty days by each touring region. Tourist agencies have doubled their efforts this year, and some sections have multiplied their advertising ten and twenty fold. In addition to this tremendous increased advertising of favored regions already on the map, quite a few of newer districts are flashing in the limelight of publicity with their offerings to the prospective tourist.”

The 1920s were not like the next decade to come when the Great Depression stymied the country, but it had its challenges. In 1921 Congress sharply curbed immigration by setting a national quota system, the infamous “Black Sox” scandal scarred major league baseball, and union miners killed 21 strikebreakers at Herrin, Ill., during a bitter nationwide coal strike ushered in the new decade.

In 1923, a year after the tourist marketing splurge in Cloverland territory, the first sound-on-film motion picture “Phonofilm,” was shown at a theater in New York, and President Calvin Coolidge addressed Congress (Dec. 6) in the first radio broadcast of the president’s annual speech. I mention those steps so readers have an idea where the country was at in the early 1920s.

According to Andrews’ editorial, Colorado was No. 1 in the district in tourism with what he called an “elaborate advertising campaign.” The State of Washington was a close second and Montana was moving up in the advertising competition. He pointed out California led all other states in tourist traffic “because Californians recognized the cash assets that abound in forests, lakes, streams, mountains and historical remnants of adventure and pioneering.”

The Detroit Tourist and Convention Bureau, reported Michigan’s tourist business in 1921 reached $100,000,000 and predicted the sum would double within the decade. The Upper Peninsula’s take out of that enormous sum for the age was about $1,000,000.

Cloverland Magazine launched its campaign in January 1922, a drive that was labeled “the biggest campaign in the history of the territory to double the tourist traffic in Cloverland this year.”

Andrews was confident in what the Cloverland district had to offer tourists. “Cloverland has more to sell, more to gain,” he wrote. “Touring has proven itself to be the line of last resistance in inducing people to come and see Cloverland. The possibilities of developing the vast resources of Cloverland are grasped by tourists, lead them to invest in cutover land, improved and partly improved farms, summer resorts, summer homes, camp sites, manufacturing sites, business sites, development projects of all descriptions, and quite a number become actual farm settlers. No other region in America offers such wonderful opportunities to the tourist to become associated with the development of a country so rich in potential wealth,” he gushed.

The pointman for Michigan and parts of Wisconsin claimed Cloverland was “nearer and more accessible to half the population in the United States than any other touring region, and within a night’s ride on the train, or two days’ driving in a car, there are at least ten million people. A little beyond are millions more.” He considered the border states to the Cloverland district to be Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The entire state of Michigan was penciled in on the Cloverland districts map.

Andrews adopted the “200,000 Tourists in 1922” as the specific objective because it would be the number of visitors to the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin that would double the tourist traffic of the previous year. He was confident the ambitious goal could be reached.

He urged every community in his Cloverland district to draw up a plan to lure tourists. He thrived on competition. He suggested communities use the best resources they have available like good fishing grounds, the strengths of their forests and related points of interest. He encouraged local hotels to be prepared to accommodate those visitors who don’t prefer campgrounds. He challenged the many garages of the age period to be ready to repair automobiles and to have supplies on hand, and nudged merchants to stock up on supplies that would appeal to visitors.

And to top it off, Andrews urged everyone, from business people to normal citizens, to be polite when greeting visitors and be prepared to extend a helping hand when needed.

Stop and think about the fundamental methods laid out some 97 years ago by a promoter determined to attract visitors not only to his town but other towns in the Cloverland district. Some of those methods remain useful today.

Tourism and a blueprint to promote it a century ago were primitive, but the promoters at the helm urged communities to highlight their natural resources in the absence of plush offerings.