One of the many collections processed this summer by our Arrangement and Description Specialist Glenda Ward was a scrapbook created by John N. Lowe, the head of the Natural Sciences department at Northern from 1919 to 1938. His obituary called him “the most discussed member of Northern’s faculty. Students had very decided opinions about him. Shirkers avoided his classes.” He was known for taking his classes on field trips around the peninsula during the summer. Some of the places visited were AuTrain Falls, Bernhardt’s Creek, Blaney Park, Carp River, Cherry Creek, Grand Marais, Hogsback Mountain, Lake Michigan, Lakewood, Little AuTrain Falls, Paul Bunyan’s Camp, Poor Farm Road, Sable Falls, Simmon’s Wood, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Witch Lake. Apparently his classes became quite close as they often wrote songs at the end of the summer in commemoration of their adventures. Each member of his summer classes also signed a page in his scrapbook. A trip to Simmon’s Wood on the shores of Lake Michigan
His classes ultimately resulted in two clubs: the Congo Club and the Blazed Trail Club. The Congo Club got its name because of the “safaris” that the students went on around the peninsula. The Blazed Trail Club, founded in 1936 on a trip to the Au Sable Sand Dunes near Grand Marais by members of the summer zoology class calling themselves “Vetco” (for Viola, Ellen, Tina, Clara, and Orelia) dedicated itself “to the encouragement of the laudable objective of getting folk to walk for the pleasure of walking.” Together with Dr. Karl Christofferson, Dr. Lowe led the two groups on many adventures. Dr. Lowe and Dr. Christofferson leading a field trip The “Congo Club” in Germfask. Note the matching “safari” hats. Viola and Orelia, two of the founding members of the Blazed Trails Club
However, tragedy struck on a trip to Hogsback Mountain on July 27, 1938. His obituary recounted the sad events:
John N. Lowe, Ph. D., head of the natural science department at Northern State Teachers College, Marquette, Michigan, died suddenly on July 27 at the age of fifty-two while conducting a class tour. The cause of his death was a cerebral embolism, which caused his collapse shortly after reaching the top of Hogsback Mountain near Marquette. Members of his class carried him about two miles through dense timber to the road, while others hurried ahead to summon medical aid. When help came Dr. Lowe was already dead. His death came as a profound shock to his many friends, for he had always been in the best of health, and had developed a rugged constitution from his constant life in the open.
Eerily, his scrapbook contains many photos from the trip, so someone must have finished the scrapbook for him after his death. The photos show happy students having fun on the mountain, and so must have been taken mere minutes before his collapse. Some photos from the fatal Hogsback trip
Interested in seeing more of the scrapbook? Come and check it out in the Archives! In addition, more information about John Lowe, including his lengthy and fascinating obituary, is available in the folder “Faculty/Staff–Lowe, John N.” in the Archivist File. View the finding aid for the scrapbook here.
Written by Annika Peterson