The Way We Worked: Rogers City
The Way We Worked, a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition coordinated in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council, will be on display in Rogers City from Sept. 15 – Oct. 28, 2012 at the Presque Isle County Historical Museum’s Henry & Margaret Hoffman Annex. The building is located at 175 W. Michigan Avenue in downtown Rogers City.
“We are honored to have been selected to host this fascinating Smithsonian exhibit,” said Mark Thompson, museum executive director and curator. “The Way We Worked is a topic that each of us can personally identify with and that will make the exhibit particularly relevant and meaningful to local residents. For people from outside the area, having the exhibit here during the spectacular Fall color season is a real plus. It provides them with an opportunity to combine a visit to a Smithsonian exhibit with a color tour of Northeastern Michigan.”
Admission to The Way We Worked and the museum’s exhibits is free. For additional information about the exhibit and detailed driving directions, please visit the museum’s website at www.thebradleyhouse.org.
Adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, The Way We Worked draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections to tell the story of work in American culture. Why, where and how we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?
The exhibition uses graphics, audio components, photo flipbooks, film and numerous artifacts from history to share the story of our national workforce. In addition, Rogers City will provide supplemental programming on the history of the local workforce. Visitors will also have the opportunity to take an interactive approach through Stories on Main Street – a website and accompanying phone application that make it easy to record and share small town memories.
About Work in Rogers City
Presque Isle County is known today as the center of limestone mining in the the Great Lakes Region. Quarries at Rogesr City and Presque Isle employ approximately 300 workers and produce 12-16 million tons of stone each year for use in the steel, cement and construction industries around the Great Lakes. More limestone is produced each year in Presque Isle County than anywhere else around the Great Lakes and the calcite plant at Rogers City is generally considered to be the world’s largest limestone quarry. Many local residents are also employed on ships that haul stone from the two local quarries to ports along the lower lakes. Coast Guard records indicate that on a per-capita basis, the Rogers City area has produced more sailors than any community on the Great Lakes.
Lumbering and farming are the oldest employment sectors in the county, dating back to the first settlers in the 1860s and ’70s. Like mining and shipping, the number of persons employed in those industries has declined over the years, but they continue to contribute significantly to the area’s economy.
While employment in the mining and shipping industries has declined from historic levels, employment in the health care field has grown significantly despite the fact that there is no longer a hospital in the county. Most of today’s healthcare positions are in nursing home, rehabilitation, physical therapy and occupational therapy specialties. About 11 percent of workers in the county are employed by government units. Most of these positions are at the city or county level, although some state and federal government jobs contribute to the relatively high level of employment in the governmental sector. Many individuals are also employed by small businesses in retail stores, automobile dealerships, motels, restaurants and the like. These small businesses are truly the heart of the communities they are located in.
Rogers City Quick Facts
- Presque Isle County is one of the least-populated counties in Michigan. There is only one stoplight in the entire county and there are no “big box stores.”
- During the early years of the 20th Century, Onaway produced 85 percent of the steering wheels used in automobiles not just in the U.S., but worldwide.
- The village of Metz was completely destroyed by a forest fire in 1908, but was rebuilt.
- The county’s early business and political leader, Albert Molitor, was shot and killed by a group of irate local citizens in 1875. No one was charged with the crime until 16 years later.
- Posen is a center for potato production and bills itself as Michigan’s “Potato Capital.”
- The limestone quarry on the south side of Rogers City is the world’s largest and has shipped almost 900 million tons of rock since production began in 1912.
- There are three lighthouses along the county’s Lake Huron shoreline, all of which are open to the public.
- One of the best preserved CCC camps (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the country is located in Ocqueoc Lake in the northern portion of the county.
- The Presque Isle County Historical Museum, host for this exhibit, was the Historical Society of Michigan’s “Outstanding Local Musem” in 2007 and 2010.
- Scenic Ocqueoc Falls, located between Rogers City and Onaway, is the only waterfall in Michigan’s lower peninsula.
John Beck is serving as Michigan’s exhibition scholar, acting as the lead academic consultant for host communities and the Council. Beck is an associate professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University, and co-directs the “Our Daily Work, Our Daily Lives” program, which explores and presents the culture of workers in the workplace.
The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council - with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and CMU Public Broadcasting. The Way We Worked is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils across the country. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.