Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Visit the Mackinaw
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Visit the Mackinaw

Carina Hume - August 4th, 2008
Ten days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the funds were allocated to build the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw. With delivery of iron ore during World War II a necessity, a reliable ship to keep the Great Lakes’ shipping lanes open was essential. The 290 ft. long cutter took three years to build, cost $10 million and was commissioned on December 20, 1944.
Sixty-two years later, in June 2006, the Mackinaw left its lifelong port of Cheboygan and found a new home in Mackinaw City, its namesake. Opened in 2007 as a maritime museum, the Icebreaker Mackinaw continues to share tales of its storied past.
“We received the ship in 2006,” says interim executive director Marilyn McFarland, “but we officially didn’t open it for tours until last year for the 2007 tourism season. We had so much work to do.”
More than $200,000 was spent getting the ship ready for visitors, including removing all of the fuel, running all communication lines and electric, sprucing up the dock, and hiring staff.
“We had to get locks for every door on the ship; we had to secure all the ladders and stairways, so that nobody could run around,” says McFarland.
“We had to secure different areas on the interior – block them off or put up half doors – to allow people to see in the room, but not necessarily go in the room. It’s a 290 ft. building that’s in the water; we have the honor of making it into a business.”

ICEBREAKER TOURS
“We hired trained staff – docents – who lead the tours,” says McFarland. “We have approximately 25 volunteers that love the ship so much, they help give tours, welcome people on board, do maintenance, and work in the gift shop. There’s a huge base that wants to help us succeed.”
Tours last around 45 minutes and are not recommended for young children. “[The ship] was made for Coast Guard personnel,” says McFarland. “You’re going through three different floors (sometimes on steep tiny ladders). It’s not for the weary.”
Secure shoes – no flip-flops or heels – are recommended, and visitors will want to have their hands free for climbing up and down ladders. The ship is not handicapped accessible.
“Visitors will come and go right into the library,” explains McFarland. “From the library, they go through the ship; they’ll see the mess hall, engine, bridge, XO’s office and different bunk areas.”
“Last year you couldn’t go on the bridge,” she continues. “That’s new this year. Everything is exactly the way it was when the Coast Guard walked off the ship. Maps are out; all the equipment is lit up.”
The museum is officially a non-profit organization, and the board of directors is currently in the process of hiring an executive director.
Unable to find a place for the ship in Cheboygan, the city contacted Mackinaw City, and luckily, Bill Shepler of Shepler’s Ferry had space on the old railroad dock to put the cutter there.
“Cheboygan graciously gave us the corporation that they had formed,” says McFarland.
Donations and museum admissions have allowed the organization to remain fiscally independent.

30,000 GOAL
“Last year we had 15,000 people (at $10 per person) through the ship, so that helped us come into this season in very good financial light,” says McFarland.
“Back in February, we had an angel gift us with $50,000 if we raised $50,000 – which we did in two months – so we have an extra $100,000 coming into the season. It’s nice not having to worry about money to advertise and where to get payroll.”
New billboards can be seen on US-31 north of Petoskey and while driving north on I-75, and brochures have been distributed in the area, as well.
“Last year we didn’t have money to advertise,” admits McFarland. “Our goal this year is 30,000 visitors.”
Although the museum’s operations have gotten off to a great start, future improvements are planned.
“Our long-term goal in five years is to have water and sewer,” says McFarland. “With that goal, we’d like to be able to host groups – like Boy Scout groups or strategic planning committees – reopen the mess hall and have overnights on the ship.”
A $5,000 grant was received from Consumers Power this summer, which will help pay for a study to figure out how it can be done.
“We consider the Mackinaw an American hero story, and we try to tell people how she helped win the war,” finishes McFarland. “We just love to tell the story and people love to hear it.”

For more information on the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw, visit www.icebreakermackinawmuseum.org or visit the ship at the old railroad docks, next to the municipal marina, daily through September in Mackinaw City. Adults, $10; Youth, (6-17); $6, Family, $28.


 
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