Friday, September 12, 2014

Keweenaw Excursions Offers Fall History Cruises

Join David Miles of the Charlevoix Historical Society for a pair of narrated historical cruises aboard the Keweenaw Star on Wednesday, September 24 (6-8pm) and Saturday, October 11 (3-5pm). The 2-hour trips cost $25 per person, with a portion from every ticket being donated to the CHS. To purchase tickets, call 1-231-237-9365.

The September 24 Sunset Cruise covers the west and south shores of Round Lake, heading out into Lake Charlevoix, and then turning south toward the Ferry Beach area, turning north to Oyster Bay, Pine Point, Raspberry Bay and the train depot area, before heading back toward Round Lake. From there, the Star travels along the northern shore of Round Lake before heading out into Lake Michigan with hopes of catching a sunset, then along the shore toward the cement plant and finally back into the harbor just as darkness is falling.

The October 11 Fall Color Cruise also travels through Round Lake and then into Lake Charlevoix toward Ferry Beach. From there, the trip continues into the South Arm of the lake all the way past the Sequanota Resort, Ironton and the Ironton Ferry, and down to Holy Island. The boat then turns around and heads up to Oyster Bay and Pine Point before returning to Round Lake.

Both tours offer lively narration and commentary along the way, providing interesting tidbits of local history about this harbor town – which welcomed its first permanent settlers in 1854.

According to Miles, the channels that connected the inland lakes to Lake Michigan were cut in 1869 and by 1897, Charlevoix was seeing more maritime tonnage pass through its waters than any other port on the east side of Lake Michigan, outside of Chicago. By the early 20th century, the Charlevoix area was also the premier resort destination in this region.

“At one time, the town had an importance far outside its size regarding its economic importance to both this area and the whole state,” Miles says. “It has a history, that, as I term it, simply doesn't quit. Its history is so vast that a few minutes cannot even begin to encompass it.”

Established in 1879, the Charlevoix Historical Society was a dynamic part of the community for many years, but sadly faded after World War II. It was resurrected in 1972 and in 1978 the society was given the Harsha House—an 1891 Queen Anne residence downtown that now houses its offices and museum. Today, the CHS is once again an organization interactive with segments of the community.

Miles has been an active member of the Charlevoix Historical Society since 1997 and in 2002 he was named co-director of the Harsha House museum. He’s produced seven books and two full-length DVDs on various aspects of Charlevoix’s history, has given many illustrated lectures and presentations both local and in neighboring towns, and has helped to mount large exhibits about the area’s history.

Operating since 2000, Keweenaw Excursions is owned and operated by brothers Jason and Kraig Funkey. The company originated in Houghton, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and moved to Charlevoix in 2009 – this year celebrating its 5th season. With a capacity of 130 passengers, the Keweenaw Star offers a range of cruises from mid-May through mid-October, including sunset tours, sightseeing trips and multi-day lighthouse and ship-watching cruises. The boat is also available for private charters, for events such as corporate outings, weddings, rehearsal dinners and reunions.

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