January 21, 2019

“The River That Changed the World”

Au Sable River history featured at Michigan History Museum


LANSING –– The story of Northern Michigan’s Au Sable River is currently on exhibit at the Michigan History Museum, where visitors can explore how the famed river influenced people and activities around the world.

According to a museum press release, the exhibit shows how the river influenced people around the world, provided renewal, inspiration and livelihoods and helped guide the fields of fish management and river protection.

According to michigan.gov, the Au Sable River is a major tributary to Lake Huron that drains a north-south basin that includes 1,932 square miles in North Central Lower Michigan. The basin is approximately 90 miles long and 10-30 miles wide. The river basin is partially within the Huron National Forest and includes parts of Otsego, Montmorency, Crawford, Oscoda, Alcona, Roscommon, Ogemaw and Iosco counties.

“The River That Changed the World” includes a real 24-foot-long Au Sable river boat owned by George Griffith of Trout Unlimited, on display surrounded by river scenes, as well as the Wolverine Fish Car, which is adjacent to the visitor center. The recreated 1914-1935 train car depicts how employees of the old Michigan Department of Conservation lived on the train while transporting and stocking fish across the state by showcasing the sleeping berths, a kitchen and several uniquely designed messages from the stewardship. Computer touchscreen kiosks are set up to quiz visitors on the rearing methods of fish and the history of fisheries management.

The exhibit also includes a reconstruction of the Wanigas Rod Shop, which repaired fishing equipment for the returning post-war sportsmen and was a source for new quality gear. The site introduces Art Neumann, another founding member of Trout Unlimited, who was also a fly fisherman and rodmaker. Visitors also get the opportunity to learn how to tie a fly and compare tied flies to insects under a microscope.

Trout Unlimited’s founding on the Au Sable is also showcased in the museum exhibit. The story of the 16 fishermen who decided in 1959 to work toward the long-term conservation of Michigan’s coldwater streams is displayed with photos of original founders and their history on the river.

The exhibit also explains the relationship between the Anishinaabe and the Au Sable River by highlighting how the change of the seasons affected the Native Americans’ use of the river, and includes tools and fish bones from an archaeological site on the river.

Grayling’s section of the Au Sable River is the final piece of “The River That Changed the World,” and the exhibit shows how fishing and tourism has changed since the mid-19th century with a 360-degree virtual reality paddle down the river, either by way of an Oculus Rift headset or a personal smartphone and cardboard viewers.

On top of its relevance to fishing and history, the Au Sable River has provided years of activities and adventures for families and travelers that have helped it to go down in history as a must-see locale.

Thomas Buhr of the Anglers of the Au Sable said the river is the cardiovascular system for the area.

“Its waters create and sustain life for plants and animals throughout the region from dragonflies to deer to marsh marigolds to northern white cedars,” he said. “There are very few springfed coldwater rivers of its size on the continent.”

“Without the river, there would be fewer settlements in Oscoda County starting with Mio, Comins and Luzerne,” he said. “The river was the only true highway for travel well into the 20th century. When the lumber ran out, the Au Sable became a magnet for outdoor recreation and tourism. That, in turn, brought some fascinating personalities such as Roxie Roach, Boyd Senter and Tommy Thompson to Oscoda County. And let’s not forget the canoe marathon –– the Super Bowl of the sport.”

The exhibit opened Sept. 30, 2017, and is scheduled to remain open until July 29, 2018. It is located in the east wing of the Michigan Library and Historical Center at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing.

“The River That Changed the World” is included with museum admission, which is $6 for adults aged at least 18, $4 for seniors aged at least 65 and $2 for youths aged 6-17. Children younger than 5 years old get in for free. Sunday admission and weekend parking are free. For more information, call the Michigan History Museum at 517-373-3559 or visit michigan.gov/mhc.


Please review our community guidelines before posting

Please keep comments on topic and appropriate for all ages. Remember that people of all ages read our website. Those that are not appropriate will be removed. Please read our full community guidelines before posting.

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Copyright © 2019, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.