Michigan history

A state history publication once ended by budget cuts is back with a new look and a new focus. We talk with Nancy Feldbush and Amy Bradfield of the Historical Society of Michigan. They’re co-editors of Michigan History for Kids magazine.

picture of Great Lakes steamship
Wikimedia Commons/University of Maryland Digital Collections)

The Great Lakes might not be your first choice for a cruise vacation. But the passenger ships in the region used to be some of the most luxurious in the entire world. We learn more about these “floating palaces” from Detroit Historical Society Joel Stone, whose recent book profiles the history of the Great Lakes steamship industry.

If you wanted to travel in style around the Great Lakes during the 19th and early 20th centuries, you took a steamship. The boats' massive ballrooms and ornate furnishings earned them the nickname “palace steamers.” 

A picture of Wilcox Plymouth Mill
WKAR/Scott Pohl

Our summer visits to historic Detroit-area sites concludes with a stop at the Wilcox Plymouth Mill. Once a simple grist mill, it became a part of the Arsenal of Democracy, but is now in disrepair. Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with Jack Dempsey of the Michigan Historical Commission about the history that will be lost if it isn’t preserved.

There used to be a pair of Civil War era cannons on the grounds on the State Capitol building. On Saturday, there will be a ceremony to mark the installation of two replica cannons. State Senators Mike Kowall and Steve Bieda worked across the aisle to raise private money for the project. Current State talks with them about the project.

In the second of two parts, Current State talks with Frederick Stonehouse. His book "The Last Laker: Finding a Wreck Lost in the Great Lakes’ Deadliest Storm" tells the story of the search for the SS Henry B. Smith, which sank in 1913.