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Stroll through Michigan’s history in a new living history park

Logging camp near Cadillac, MI, ca. 1904
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

There’s a new living history park in Whitehall that’s giving visitors a unique way to discover the history of Michigan.

Michigan’s Heritage Park is part of the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon.

Wendy Vanwoerkom is the Heritage Park’s Program Manager.

Vanwoerkom tells us that the park includes a half-mile trail that winds through the forest, featuring buildings and construction built in the styles of different time periods in Michigan’s history.

“We start with a wigwam village, pre-European contact, and go all the way through to a 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps tent,” she says.

On the trail, visitors will also see a fur trade post from 1760, an 1830 settler’s cabin and a Civil War soldier’s winter camp, as well as an 1880 logging shed and a 1900 farmhouse.

There are also re-enactors in the park who engage with visitors and draw them into activities.

“On any given day we usually have four or more staff members in period dress, and they will talk with visitors about what life during those different time periods was like, and what technologies people were using, how they were using the natural resources around them,” Vanwoerkom says, “so it’s really a fun experience.”

Visitors can participate in hands-on activities, like trying their hand at a fur trade and testing out some period woodworking tools, Vanwoerkom tells us.

As far as how much time visitors should budget for a trip, Vanwoerkom says, “an hour and a half seems to be just about the right amount of time.”

The Heritage Park is located in Whitehall in Muskegon County, and is open Thursday through Monday. You can get directions and find out more by visiting the Lakeshore Museum Center’s website.

Listen to Wendy Vanwoerkom tell us more about everything featured at the park in our conversation above.

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