CASPIAN – The Iron County Historical Museum in Caspian is one of the largest open-air museum complexes on the Upper Peninsula.
With more than 20 buildings to browse, more than 100 exhibits to see, and two art galleries to enjoy, there’s something for all ages and interests, according to museum officials.
“The board and staff are continually working to improve the grounds and historic exhibits,” said Erika Sauter, director of the museum.
One of the projects completed this summer was painting the 110-year-old St. Mary’s Church. Built in 1912 in Gaastra, the church was moved to the museum grounds in 1989 after closing a year earlier. It took nine hours to move the 100-tonne, 30-foot-by-80-foot structure, and a five-man crew had to dismantle and install six level crossings along the route.
Today, St. Mary’s Church continues to bring joy to the community.
“It’s the perfect vintage wedding venue, with seating for 150 people and the ability to decorate as you wish.” Sauter said.
There is still work to be done to complete the basement, which currently functions as an extension of the research center and archives. “The plan is to continue to add to the exhibit with more historical exhibits,” she says.
Another exhibit currently being renovated is a Michigan rock and mineral exhibit.
The crown jewel of this exhibit will be a slice of the Iron River Meteorite – the only verified meteorite found in the Upper Peninsula. The meteorite was discovered by a farmer and his 6-year-old son in 1889 while collecting stones in their field in Iron River. It was officially verified as a meteorite in 1965 by Von Del Chamberlain, a former Michigan State University professor, who determined that its composition was primarily iron with traces of nickel and iron-chromium sulfide. .
It became part of the MSU collection and was stored there for decades until January of this year when it was displayed at the Abrams Planetarium in their new exhibit featuring exhibits from all 11 Michigan meteorites. The planetarium then donated a slice of the meteorite to the Iron County Historical Museum in July.
Finally, the museum was able to take a unique piece of Iron County history offsite in the form of its 1948 Ford fire truck, which was restored to working condition in 2018 and is now regularly displayed in the local classic car shows.
Those interested can also see him partake in the Tuesday Cruise Parties which take place in downtown Iron River from 5-7 p.m. every Tuesday in August.
The Iron County Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday through Labor Day.
For more information, go online at www.IronCountyMuseum.org or call 906-265-2617.