Escanaba and Gladstone
A metropolis for these parts, Escanaba and neighboring Gladstone (just a few miles north) are home to some 17,400 people, serving as the industrial and commercial center for the south-central Upper Peninsula. The natural deepwater port gave Escanaba its start back in the Civil War days, when a hastily built rail line linked the iron mines in Negaunee with the port, to bring coveted raw materials to the weapons-makers and railroad builders of the Union Army. Today, Escanaba’s modern ore port still ships iron, now in the form of iron/clay taconite pellets, to steelmakers in Indiana and Ohio.
Downtown Escanaba focuses on Ludington Street, an east-west route that runs from M-35 to the waterfront. The town’s landmark is the House of Ludington, a grand old Queen Anne resort hotel built in 1865. The building’s imposing facade continues to anchor the downtown.
At the foot of Ludington Street, lovely Ludington Park offers paved pathways along the water and to a small island (in-line skates permitted), interpretive signs explaining local history, a band shell that hosts concerts on Wednesday evenings in summer, a playground, a beach, tennis courts, and a boat launch.
One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Sand Point Lighthouse (16 Water Plant Rd., 906/786-3763, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–Sept., $2), an 1867 brick light that was restored and reopened as a museum in 1990 by the Delta County Historical Society. It was a big job. In the 1940s, the Coast Guard remodeled the obsolete light for staff housing, removing the lantern room and lopping off the top 10 feet of the tower.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel