Port of Ludington Maritime Museum opens Saturday, June 10.

June 9, 2017


Port of Ludington Maritime Museum opens Saturday, June 10.

#PureLudington #LoveLudington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — After years in the making, Ludington is getting its own maritime museum. On Saturday, June 10 the doors of the $5.2 million Port of Ludington Maritime Museum open to the public as part of the Love Ludington Weekend. The museum, located in the old Coast Guard Station — which operated from 1934 to 2004 — at 217 S. Lakeshore Drive, is owned and operated by the Mason County Historical Society. The project began about eight years ago.

Eric Harmsen, site director

Eric Harmsen, museum site manager, took me on a tour of the museum earlier this week, and it the museum did not disappoint. Visitors are greeted by a virtual version of U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Nels Palmer, who commanded the Ludington Coast Guard station in the early part of the 20th century. Behind him sits the pilot house of the carferry Pere Marquette 22, along with exhibits about the history of the carferries, lumber schooners, and Coast Guard, along with original lenses to Mason County’s two lighthouses.

The pilot house, and the area below it, are the center points of the museum. The second floor pilot house features a replica of the PM 22, which was launched in 1924 after being built in Manitowoc, Wis. and sailed Lake Michigan until 1971. But what’s really cool about this replica is that it is interactive, featuring actual artifacts of the original ships, that visitors can touch and control, along with a $328,000 simulator that allows visitors to pilot the ship into Ludington harbor and dock it.

Below the pilot house is a replica of the captain’s quarters of the PM 22, specifically the replica is the quarters of Capt. Wallace “Andy” VanDyke, featuring actual artifacts owned by Capt. Wallace, who began his sailing career on schooners at the age of 15, in 1886, and began his career as a carferry captain in 1916. On March 25, 1936, VanDyke suffered a heart attack and died in his cabin while the ship was en-route to Ludington.

The second floor of the museum also features rooms dedicated to Great Lakes shipwrecks, a maritime art gallery, an exhibit of miniature U.S. lighthouses, and a collection of model ships.

The third floor features a panoramic scroll of Ludington of the 1890s, which was created by Ludington resident Jacob Lunde in the mid-20th century. The 100-foot scroll was donated by Lunde’s family.

The grand opening of the museum is Saturday, June 10, beginning at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony includes a demonstration by the Coast Guard at 5 p.m. along with commentary by members of the historical society at 5:30 p.m. The doors open at 6 p.m. During the summer season the museum will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn more about the museum here.

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