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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



david k petersen

On July 14th 1892 The Ludington Record Appeal Proudly Announced "LUDINGTON THE BEAUTIFUL" on the front page of the Industrial Edition. Meant to promote the City in the waning days of the Lumber Boom the edition was an attempt to lure new business and new families to settle in Ludington, thus assuring that the city would not fall to the wayside and be another forgotten lumber town.

In the Edition we find that the Development Company headed by CT Wing donated 650 inside the city lots that when sold will provide a bonus fund for development of the city. Residents were encouraged to invest in a lot so that they may also profit by the future growth of the city. At the same time Excursion Boat trips to Ludington were arranged to bring an anticipated throng of enthusiastic bidders to the auction that was to be held for 100 five acre plots in the fruit belt of Mason County.

Fifty ten acre plots in prime fruit growing farmland were also offered with liberal terms to new families with the promise that five hundred to fifteen hundred dollars per acre profit could be realized.

The Lincoln River once it was to be connected to Hamlin Lake was seen as a great source of electricity and would provide the energy to fuel the many factories that would line it's shore, and Lincoln Heights would be the vacation Mecca of the Midwest drawing in resorters from near and far.

A new opera house was boasted, Jobs by the hundreds for the anticipated construction of factories, the new business block, the new hotel. A thousand men were anticipated to be employed as masons, carpenters and laborer's, bringing families and an increase of 4,000 to the population, 800 new cottages were needed to house them and more with the increased manufacturing jobs.

Shoe factories, Tanneries, furniture manufacturing, a Blast Furnace, Clothing, an Electric Dynamo factory, window shade company an more were forecast as new companies looking to locate to Ludington.

The Harbor, rich fruit lands, bathing beaches, fishing, boating, schools, industry, and the natural beauty of the area were all heavily promoted for a town which in 1892 had reached the population of 9,000 souls.

During the Gala events leading up to the Auction the driving Park Association had put up purses totaling three thousand dollars for Trotting, Pacing, and running events as well as chariot racing, umbrella racing and more.

A barbeque was planned for the 14th of July to occur just before the Auction, their hope was to realize a crowd of 10,000 people. Afterwards all were to adjourn to the manufacturers' addition [north side] for concerts provided by Fischer's Great Military Band, the Pere Marquette Band, and the Milwaukee Band, Addresses of Welcome, toasts and responses, and entertainment were scheduled.

Thirteen years later on January second 1905 The Ludington Daily Sun proudly proclaims "Ludington on-the Lake" The Coming City of Michigan in the headline of the Holiday edition. [many thanks to the reader that provided this paper]

The Daily Sun was in it's fifth year and boasted that never before had an edition of this kind been attempted by a Ludington newspaper. The City of Ludington was "soon" to become the Great Port on the Eastern Shore of lake Michigan. Property values are low and those buying now are sure to make a large return on their investment.

"Several concerns of national reputation and large capital and resources are now contemplating removal to this city". The article goes on to say "We want you, an hundred thousand of you, and you can't come too soon".

I've read many Ludington newspapers from 1867 to 2005, and there seems to be a common thread throughout the past 138 years and that is Ludington is always coming, but I haven't seen a report that Ludington has arrived.

That's not to say that there are not many many positive attributes, the area is beautiful, and I wouldn't care to live anywhere else. My Mason County family came in the 1880's to farm in Victory Township and a great many family and cousins still remain here.

The fact remains that the public campaigns of the last 138 years has been to increase the numbers of people living in and vacationing in Mason County, more density is what was recently referred to in an article on the future growth needs of the County. In looking at our history and growth [or lack of] I question whether 10,000 more people, many earning minimum wage will improve our situation.

We might want to consider that more people moving here is not as important as improving the conditions of the 30,000 that are here so that a wage earner can support their family and that our children can find work and affordable homes to stay and [re] build the community. Next week we will look closer at the 1905 campaign.







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