EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Getting ready for the trail day event, Nancy Larsen, (back left) and Bruce Oman, both from Ingallston Township, work at improving a new trail complete with a new bridge across a stream at the West Shore Fishing Museum Wednesday in Menominee Township. The trail event took place Saturday.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

Getting ready for the trail day event, Nancy Larsen, (back left) and Bruce Oman, both from Ingallston Township, work at improving a new trail complete with a new bridge across a stream at the West Shore Fishing Museum Wednesday in Menominee Township. The trail event took place Saturday.

MENOMINEE — The West Shore Fishing Museum’s Trail Day was an educational experience for all ages.

The West Shore Fishing Museum — located within Bailey Park — reopened for a single day, Saturday, to show off its trails and to educate the public on the local history of commercial fishing, nature and the rising water levels of the Great Lakes.

Bailey Property Preservation President Noreen Johnson said the BPPA wanted to show off the trails, which had recently been worked on and expanded, and provide an event that could get people of all ages outdoors and into nature. 

The property has several trails, many of which interconnect. They have recently been widened and cleaned up, which was needed after a Menominee County logging project and several storms, which caused damage to the woods.

Johnson said the property covers several different type of ecosystems natural to Menominee County and those who walk the trails have the opportunity to experience them one-by-one in a relatively short distance.

The different ecosystems were labeled with signs throughout the trails.

On the trail, John Helfert, while dressed in traditional Native American clothing, gave brief lessons on the property, nature and the Menominee people and traditions.

He said one of the main trails actually follows part of Old M-35.

“They moved M-35 over because of the weather and snow, this road wasn’t paved and it became navigable during bad weather,” Helfert said. “They used to drive stage coaches from Marinette to Escanaba over Old M-35.” He said parts of M-35 still zigzags throughout the county and there are still people who live on the old highway.

Helfert said he had hoped to share his knowledge with kids, but at the time none had come to the event yet.

“I want to take the kids into the trials and show them the power of the storms that come through here,” Helfert said. He pointed out a large tree that had fallen in a recent thunderstorm. “About two months ago, that great white big pine was just tumbled over. There were several large trees that just got smashed in that area. We had to clear the whole thing because the tree covered the trails.”

Paul Larsen, a retired biology teacher from Carney, attended the trail days event with his wife, Carol.

“We’ve never been here before and it’s in our backyard,” Larsen said. “There are so many places around the U.P. that we haven’t been and we’ve been here all our lives. Every time you go out to a place like this you’re amazed by the beauty of it.”

He said Bailey Park and the museum was “very nice” and he’d spread the word about it.

A free presentation by Elliot Nelson, MSU Extension Michigan sea grant educator, on the rising water levels of the Great Lakes was given on the property during the trail day event.

Nelson said the Great Lakes are much higher this year than they have been in several years but it’s nothing unusual.

“The question on everyone’s mind is when will the water levels go back down?” He said. “They will go down, this is part of a natural cycle.” Nelson explained that the water levels have a variation of about 5 to 6 feet but it usually takes several decades for the full cycle to complete, so people forget how high the lakes can get.

The West Shore Fishing Museum also opened each of the exhibits and the gift shop for the day, so visitors had the chance to learn about commercial fishing and the families who settled the area.

Overall, Johnson said she hoped there could have been a bigger turn out, but was happy with the people who did attend the event.

This was the last day of the season for the West Shore Fishing Museum and it will be closed until next summer.