Explore life on the water
Beaver Island Marine Museum
A LAKE MICHIGAN PEOPLE
An authentic net shed built in 1906 houses our growing collection of memorabilia from the days when St. James Harbor was teeming with commercial activity. At one time the water’s edge was ringed with vessels of the fishing fleets and commercial traffic, and for many a Great Lakes’ captain the harbor was home.
The Marine Museum opened in 1980. It tells the story of the busy days in the harbor. Those times included not only fishing, but also the shipping of various products, such as lumber. Some exhibits capture memories of the disasters which overtook the men and ships of the Island, and the efforts of the Coast Guard and Lighthouse Services which came to the aid of those in distress.
The museum contains material about shipbuilding, the vessels which have served the Island, and diving activities. There is information about the other islands in the Beaver Archipelago as well.
Collections and Exhibits
On November 8th, 1936, a raging storm shook the J. Oswald Boyd for 12 hours until it ran aground on Simmons Reef, northeast of Beaver Island, with a full load of gasoline.
All 19 men on board were saved, although the Boyd would claim six lives in the following months. This 255 ft tanker carried a precious cargo of 920,000 gallons of “high test” gasoline from Toledo, Ohio, to Escanaba, Michigan...
The owner of the Boyd was the Dunham Marine Corporation. They abandoned the ship, making the cargo of gasoline free to anyone. Immediately, Beaver Islanders and other nearby mariners started a salvage operation...
GILL NET BOAT RESTORATION PROJECT
The Society has restored a wooden gill-net boat which fished northern waters since 1935. Visitors can go on board to get a sense of what this way of life was like.
BILL FREESE – THE ISLAND’S ONE-OF-A-KIND BOAT BUILDER
The Historical Society is excited to announce that we now have a Bill Freese wooden boat on display at the Marine Museum. The dinghy is made of Beaver Island cherry and has his signature under the seat. But, who was Bill Freese?