"You have to see it to believe it," Ron Wood, who is leading up the effort to create the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, recently told the Ludington Rotary Club. He said a tentative timeline calls for museum construction to begin in 2013 with hopes of an opening in 2014. He calls it a "museum within a museum" with the Coast Guard Station Ludington building, now on the National Register of Historic Places, being a museum itself that will house the maritime museum.
The one-eighth scale model of the Elberta railyard was designed and built by blueprint designer Art Gerritsen who was fascinated by the Elberta rail yard. It is true to life in details and scale. The trains are to scale, the stop signs are to scale, the cars are to scale. "It's amazing, it's absolutely amazing," Wood said.
Mary Gerritsen, Art's wife, donated the yard in her late husband's memory.
Wood admitted he had a mental hurdle to get over about the Elberta train yard exhibit. He wondered before he saw the scale model that will fill a 26- by 6-foot area on the ground floor (Boat House) of the museum, if a rail yard from Elberta and the Ann Arbor carferries would fit here. Ludington, after all, is home to the Pere Marquette and later C&O carferries that competed with the Ann Arbor line. But seeing is believing.
"It is so precise," Wood said. "Once I got past that, and realized we're representing how a rail yard functions, we didn't have any more problems. I hope other people don't, it's fascinating .... wow, every detail."
And it works. Gerritsen and friends "had serious play time" with it. The plan calls for docents to perhaps operate it on a schedule a couple times a day.
He called it another of the "three hooks" for the museum designed to attract visitors and keep people coming back. The other two hooks, as detailed in the Daily News in August, are the Jacob Lunde panorama of Pere Marquette Lake and the recreation of the pilot house of the Pere Marquette 22 carferry.
Wood told stories of how the major elements of each of three exhibits being designed by a firm from Holland, Michigan, came to the historical society. A Chicago businessman called from his business, "I've Got Junk," to offer a wheel, bell, gauges and a binnacle from the PM 22. A photo of the exterior of the pilot house of the PM 22 also arrived out of the blue to complement an interior picture the exhibit designer had. Blueprints for the PM 22 pilothouse were located and reconstructed. It will fit, with just inches to spare, in the second floor area designated, Wood said.
The Jacob Lunde panorama, an 18-inch-wide, 110-foot-long scrollwork depiction of the shores of Pere Marquette Lake as it was in use when Lunde created it on cheesecloth in the 1950s, has been digitally scanned. An audio of Lunde presenting the story of the scenes that unfold on the panorama that used to be scrolled through when presenting to organizations of his day will be matched to the digitized image. "He will actually give the presentations again to our patrons," Wood told Rotary.
The panorama itself will be put on display in the museum in a 100-foot-long climate controlled case on the third floor crew's area, which was opened up for that purpose. (Visit http://ludingtonmaritimemuseum.o... to see the panorama scroll across the web page.)
Jacob Lunde's immense scrollwork, a panorama of Ludington in the late nineteenth century displayed in a 100-foot-long custom designed case, will serve as a tool to explore the evolution of industry at Ludington through the 19th and 20th centuries. Within this Lunde Room, exhibits will highlight five significant industries in Ludington: timber, salt, commercial fishing, and sport fishing.
In addition to the three hooks, the museum will have three main themes as well: the history of the Coast Guard, which has had a Ludington presence since 1880, carferry history and the history of the Ludington harbor.
Presentations for fundraising continue to go well, he said. "That snowball you always want go get rolling, I believe it has started," Wood said.
The goal is to create a museum that will be a destination place "and compete with the big boys up and down the lake," Wood said.
— Information from Ludington Daily News