What’s up dock? Event dips into the past

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Jackie Jahfetson

Have you ever wondered what Marquette looked like hundreds of years ago? It’s hard to tell today what encompassed the shores of Lake Superior in this hipster kind of town with tourist gift shops, an upcoming coffee shop on every corner, walking trails along Lower Harbor and of course, the standing statue of the Ore Dock that never ceases to camouflage its presence to incoming visitors on Highway U.S. 41.

But underneath the beauty lies a past of harbors, docks, shipwrecks and other hidden stories that have been buried and left untold. Two local story-tellers will open the chest to the past in a tour-like presentation, revealing the truth behind Marquette’s historical docks while also benefitting a local institution that preserves to uphold Marquette’s history.

WMQT 107.7 radio host Jim Koski will partner up with Superior View photographer Jack Deo in the event “What’s Up Dock?! A History of the Harbor” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan.24, at the Kaufman Auditorium. As a fundraiser for the Marquette Regional History Center (MRHC), the event will feature a history of Marquette’s docks and harbors in never-seen-before footage from old vintage films and photographs from Superior View, as well as Longyear Library archives.

“There’s going to be a lot of amazing stuff. Some of the
photos almost made my jaw hit the floor. People who love the history of Marquette will also have their jaws hitting the floor, and that’s what we hope for,” Koski said.

Many people don’t realize the history of how Marquette came to be, Koski said. Lower Harbor is the reason that this place exists, he said. Koski, who has given walking tours for the
MRHC in the past couple of years to over 200 people, said this event will be the “indoor supercharged” of what those summer tours look like. The event will be a way to show people the other footage that’s not seen on a walking tour, he noted.

Being a Marquette native, the history of this Yooper town was not always something Koski had appreciated. Like others, he left Marquette to “seek fame and fortune,” and like many, he came back.

“If you grow up here, you don’t appreciate the history of Marquette. I never learned about the docks but when I started to do research and it just grew into an obsession,” he said.

The event is sponsored by Fraco Concrete Products Yard and Barry Polzin Architect. Though balcony tickets are sold out, some seats on the floor still remain open. Tickets in advance are $15 first floor seat- ing (or $20 at the door) and can be purchased at the MRHC located at 145 W. Spring St. or online at marquettehistory.org or by calling 906.226.3571. The MRHC does not receive any government funding to keep its doors open, it solely relies on events like this and donations, Koski said.

“[The MRHC] is kind of like the repository of the fountain of all knowledge surrounding Marquette,” he said. “Not only will they learn a lot but they will allow for the history center to stay open.”