Did you know that Little Presque Isle almost became a power plant in the late 1960s? If it weren’t for concerned people banding together in the form of a group called Citizens to Save the Superior Shoreline (CSSS), Little Presque might not be the beautiful area that it is today.
Until 1969, a local Marquette family owned Little Presque and kept it open for public use. Then, they began looking to sell the property to anyone who would buy it.
The UP Power Company offered a lot of money for the property and the family agreed. Many people were outraged at the destruction of such a gorgeous area. They came together and formed the CSSS. In the face of a petition with thousands of signatures, the UP Power Company dropped their plan to buy the property. A few years later, the family again almost sold the land to residential developers.
CSSS worried that they would not be able to permanently save Little Presque. Then, in 1975, the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company announced that they were looking to purchase some land from the DNR to expand their mining enterprises. In order to acquire the interior land that they needed, they were going to trade land of equal worth to the DNR.
CSSS saw this upcoming land trade as an opportunity to preserve Little Presque forever. They approached CCI and the DNR and asked if CCI would be willing to buy the land surrounding Little Presque and give that to the DNR in trade for the interior land that they needed for mining. CCI agreed. This area included not just Little Presque Isle but also such popular recreational areas as Harlow Lake and Wetmore Landing.
CSSS did not just work to keep Little Presque Isle and the surrounding areas pristine. They also tackled many other environmental issues, such as local problems with air and water pollution and bottle recycling in Michigan.
Interested in learning more about the activities of CSSS? Come to the Archives and see their collection! It includes meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, financial records, copies of legislative bills about environmental issues, news clippings, and maps of Presque Isle.
Or, come and check out our next Chat with the Archivist session on Wednesday, February 25 from 10 AM – 12 PM! Marcus will be somewhere in the lobby areas of first floor Jamrich with some materials from the CSSS collection. He will be happy to answer your questions regarding local environmental history or any archival topic.
Written by Annika Peterson