The West Shore Fishing Museum is likely the best kept secret in Menominee County when it comes to displaying history and Mother Nature at the same time. The museum is located in the environs of Bailey Park on M-35 along the sparkling waters of Green Bay. Although the museum is closed for the summer season the Mother Nature portion of the scenic setting shines yearlong.

Dedicated volunteers who have built the story of history about commercial fishing in the M&M area recently opened the doors of their precious grounds for a special one-day event that featured the trails and woodlands within its territorial limits. The event was held in late September and was dubbed “Trail Day.”

Noreen Johnson, president of the Bailey Property Preservation group, which oversees the operation of the museum and its setting, said the group wanted to spotlight the trails that surround the grounds. Considerable work has been invested in improving the trails, bridges and other assets of the property. The various ecosystems were marked with signs along the pathway of beauty.

John Helfert, a long-serving volunteer with the Bailey group and well-known for his presentations of history at the Chappee Rapids fur trading post along the Menominee River, slipped on Native American attire and gave brief lectures on the surroundings of the trails, the early people who walked them and the traditions they left behind. Helfert is especially effective when he is explaining history to children.

Elliott Nelson, Michigan State University Extension sea grant educator, was available to explain the Great Lakes water levels and their relation to the property.

Promoters of the event were disappointed at the turnout, but perhaps a more aggressive marketing campaign next year will attract a larger audience. The M&M area has scores of folks interested in history of the area and the breath-taking scenery in the remote and lonely neighborhoods of the two counties where local history was carved out by early settlers.

It is fortunate the area is filled with volunteers who give of their time and energy to rebuild the pathways of our ancestors and keep their stories alive. The West Shore Fishing Museum is one of the organizations that make it happen.