Seen from afar, the Superior Dome looks a bit like a large spaceship landed next to the Northern Michigan University campus. Inside the world's largest wood dome, it's interesting to see the framework of Douglas fir beams designed to withstand strong winds and heavy snow loads. Visitors can see free of charge the engaging displays in the U.P. Heritage Center on the outer concourse, the brainchild of NMU history professor and U.P. history enthusiast Russ Magnaghi. It highlights U.P. legends from John Voelker to longtime legislator and rainmaker Dominic Jacobetti to nuclear chemist Glen Seaborg (native of Ishpeming) and watercolorist Nita Engle.
Officials at Northern Michigan University had long campaigned to build an indoor football stadium to foster school spirit, improve attendance at games, and host other events. In 1991 this five-acre facility, 531 feet across, 14 stories high, was completed to much ballyhoo as "the world's largest wooden dome" - a claim that is still made.
#IMAG#Winter car show at the Superior Dome#The dome has won a real place in the hearts and everyday lives of local people. Many trade shows and special events take place here. In a sports-crazy area, some high school football games and track meets are played here. Games in the Superior Dome are a convenience when opposing teams are far apart - when Calumet plays St. Ignace, for instance. And crowds are bigger when weather on the playing field is not a factor.
In this land of ice and snow, the walking and jogging track has been a tremendous draw not just for athletes but for mothers and toddlers, seniors, and the general public. It's a step up from mall-walking, and a social center, too, with coffee and snacks available. Hundreds of walkers shop up here on winter weekday mornings when the track is open (that's when NMU classes are in session). NMU's tight budget means that morning walkers now must pay $2 a session, or buy a season pass.
Group tours are available upon request, or small groups can stop in and ask a student assistant for an impromptu tour. For a $5 daily guest pass, anyone can use the facilities here for tennis, basketball, volleyball, walking, and jogging. exercise and weight training machines, and the track). The adjoining Physical Education Instructional Facility, also open to all for $6, has a swimming pool, fitness center, and climbing wall.
Along the interior perimeter are impressive arrays of themed displays. "Legends of the Upper Peninsula" honors legendary lawyer-author and trout fisherman JOHN VOELKER (a.k.a. Robert Traver). Here is a model of his cherished fishing camp, and the desk where he wrote Anatomy of a Murder. Also represented are the late State Representative DOMINIC JACOBETTI of Negaunee, patron saint of the U.P. for all the regional projects he funded during his long career; Marquette watercolorist NITA ENGLE, winner of the prestigious American Watercolor Society artist of the year award; and 1951 Nobel Prizewinning nuclear chemist GLENN SEABORG (1912 to 1999) Son of a Swedish railroad mechanic, he lived in Ishpeming until the age of 10, when his family moved to California. His influence was enormous for most of the 20th century. He co-discovered transuranium elements numbered 94 to 102, advised 10 U.S. presidents, became chancellor of the U. of California at Berkeley, and advocated for science education until his death. (His mother had advised him to go into bookkeeping. He owed his illustrious career to one high school science teacher.)
Other exhibit cases feature "NMU Sports Championships," "The Natural World of the Upper Peninsula" (the mineral specimens are beautiful), and "Upper Peninsula Ethnic Groups," illustrated with riveting historic photographs in front of a wall of flags representing countries which produced many U.P. immigrants.
But the display of animals native to the Upper Peninsula is the popular favorite. Rob Aho of the DNR often donates animal remains. He'd like to display all U.P. native animals. A special case has been constructed for a mounted moose found as roadkill. He is a very large animal even though immature. The rack of a large bull moose is next to it, for comparison. 8/2010
1401 Presque Isle north of Fair. (906) 227-2850. Open Mon-Fri 8-5 in summer, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Thur, 6-5 Fri when NMU is in session. Usually used weekends for special events. Wheelchair-accessible.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Marquette Wi-fi Hotspots. • Peter White Public Library has wi-fi & public computers. 217 N Front between Ridge & Bluff. • Olson Library (NMU) has wi-fi & public computers. On Tracy St., off Wright St. • Dead River Coffee has wi-fi. 119 W. Baraga, just west of S. Front St. ... more
Presque Isle Park. One of the coolest city parks anywhere, it's a rocky, wooded peninsula jutting into Lake Superior with great vistas, 5 miles of walking paths, swimming pool and water slide, picnic grounds, bandshell ... more
Marquette County History Museum. Choice artifacts, some life-sized exhibits with audio, and a good gift shop make this stand out. See an Ojibwa family group,the Burt survey party, a child-scale street of shops ... more
Ridge and Arch Historic District. A well-maintained neighborhood of historic homes in a variety of late 19th-century styles, and two richly detailed red sandstone churches with unusual stained glass windows, one by Tiffany ... more
Lower Harbor. The beautifully designed focus of the city's Lake Superior waterfront, with a fresh and smoked fish shop, a playground/picnic park next to the marina, a historic lighthouse, a breakwall to walk out on ... more
Marquette Maritime Museum. A colorful museum with lots of great stuff: superb replicas of freighters, three Fresnel lighthouse lenses, hands-on fishing nets and a pilot house, colorful flags from Great Lakes freighters, a miniature reconstruction of a famous WWII naval battle ... more
U.S.S. Darter-Dace Silent Service Memorial. A fascinating computerized, narrated diorama of the Philippine naval battle that crippled the Japanese navy, highlighting the critical role of two subs with U.P. crews and a replica conning tower are part ... more
Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center . At the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center are exhibits on the various immigrant groups who populated the U.P., an historical look at student life at Northern Michigan University, and the artifacts from the life of philanthropist and business magnate Sam Cohodas. ... more
Marquette Harbor Light. Visitors can now tour this oft-photographed lighthouse on the rocks and take the catwalk 300' out to Lighthouse Point, with great panoramic views of Presque Isle, ore dock, harbor, and town ... more
Lakeside bike path from the Inner Harbor to Presque Isle. You can rent a bike or rollerblades for this beautiful, busy shoreline path from the inner harbor to magical Presque Isle Park, passing a beach and picnic area for students and one for families ... more
Lake Superior & Ishpeming RR Ore Dock. Extending a full quarter mile out into the lake, this huge 75' landmark is where you can watch taconite pellets of iron ore delivered by train and noisily dumped into a waiting ore carrier ... more
Alley Kat's Quilt Shop. Outstanding contemporary shop caters to quilters, fiber artists, home sewers, Lots of examples inspire quilters. Designer fabrics, geometrics, wools (for the primitive look), & linen-cotton blends for garments. ... more
Peter White Library. A dream library renovated and expanded through community visioning: restored 1904 reading rooms, an exhibit gallery, a children's room designed by kids, a community art gallery and shop, and a café/coffee bar with fresh Greek specialties ... more
The Village shopping district on Third Street. Between downtown and campus, Third Street has several popular restaurants, an excellent outdoors shop, a terrific fabric shop, a consignment shop, a bead shop ... more
Superior Dome. See the wood framework of the world's largest wood dome, used for athletics and community walking and jogging. Interesting exhibits in its outer corridor feature U.P. minerals, ethnic groups, and Upper Peninsula legends John Voelker, Dominic Jacobetti, Nita Engle, Glenn Seaborg, and Sam Cohodas ... more
DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University. With this facility, the Upper Peninsula has a real art museum, open year-round, with some high-level nationally important exhibits along with local and regional shows ... more
Marquette County Courthouse. A grand public building from 1902, used with respect. See the impressive courtroom where the Anatomy of a Murder case was tried, the great view from the steps, and the display of Voelker legal memorabilia ... more
St. Peter Cathedral and Baraga Archives. In the cathedral, stained glass windows of saints and scenes from Jesus's life. Next door, the papers of the snowshoe priest from Slovenia involved with the early history of many Michigan communities ... more
Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Low-tech, free wheeling, imaginative fun in a whacky micro city, a recyclatorium, and a great gift shop. Kids learn about microbiology after sliding down a toilet, fly in a real fuselage cockpit ... more
Park Cemetery. Download WMOT deejay Jim Koski's chatty Park Cemetery walking tour and a stroll through this hilly, wooded cemetery becomes a guided tour of the graves of Marquette's founding elite ... more
Jilbert's Dairy. An ice cream parlor is the centerpiece of this headquarters complex of the U.P.'s premier dairy, where you can see milk being processed, picnic next to a giant cow, and shop for various U.P. foods and knick-knacks ... more
U.S. 41 road cut with ancient algal stromatolites. Looming above Highway 41, this rocky cliff reveals eroded remains of ancient (2 billion-year-old) mountains once far higher than today's Rockies ... more
Blueberry Ridge Cross-Country Ski Trail/Escanaba River State Forest. 12K of trails, 1.7 miles of them lighted, are groomed for ski-skating and diagonal stride ... more