Muskegon's history is just as deeply rooted in "water" as is our new vision for the local economy...
Muskegon has been blessed with an abundance of resources over the generations.
The west end of Muskegon Lake shows where the huge Pigeon Hill sand dune was that is now home to the Harbour Towne condominium community and marina. The dune's sand was mined for industrial uses.
There has been white pine trees, pure beach sand and of course water – plenty of water from Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake and the Muskegon River.
But Muskegon’s relationship to its natural resources is different today than at any time during the 7,000 years of human inhabitance in these parts. How we view our resources is different than our ancestors, explains John McGarry, executive director of the Lakeshore Museum Center.
“In the past, we were consumptive,” McGarry explains of the fur trading, lumber and industrial eras of Muskegon’s history – a history defined by those attracted to its lakes environment.
“We used the trees, the sand and the water itself,” he said of former economic times. “Now we are not using resources like water to consume but in the value of the resource in and of itself.”
An historical photo of the former Pigeon Hill sand dune, which was the largest point along the Muskegon-area shoreline of Lake Michigan. The sand was mined away for foundry and other industrial uses.
So instead of coming to Muskegon to cut down trees and ship lumber out of the harbor or mine out sand dunes and create iron parts, people are coming to Muskegon to enjoy Pere Marquette Beach on Lake Michigan, to sail on Muskegon Lake or to kayak through the Muskegon River flats.
That has created a tension in the various public debates over the past generation when it comes to jobs and the water environment. Local citizens tied to the industrial heritage in Muskegon County still are looking for the water resources to produce solid, well-paying middle-class jobs.
Click here to read the full article on Mlive and for more pictures of our water roots!