The Muskegon Heritage Museum houses a robust collection of exhibits showcasing the economic, industrial & social history of the greater Muskegon area. Our collection includes informational exhibits, artifacts and photos pertaining to Muskegon’s industries, historic homes and businesses. We have a working steam engine with a line shaft that runs 11 machine tools. We also have a working Brunswick pinsetter, a spring winding machine, and over 80 other companies represented in exhibits. Don’t let the modest storefront fool you, the Museum has nearly 10,000 square feet of display space, spanning three floors! Please scroll down for a sampling of our current exhibits.
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Our featured item is a Corliss Valve Steam Engine built in 1893, with a 10 foot diameter flywheel weighing 6 tons. This engine came from the Stewart Hartshorn Roller Shade Co. of Muskegon and powered a dynamo to provide electricity in the plant from 1893 until the 20s. Watch the engine run whenever the museum is open. Originally it was powered by steam, today we use air from a Regenerative Blower.
Adam Winters, Allan Dake and others have spent many hours getting this equipment in working condition. With donations from Alcoa/Howmet, Norm & Maureen Campbell, C.W. Marsh Co. and Fred Wilder.
The belts connect the Corliss Valve steam engine to the early 1900’s machine shop equipment. This gives our visitors a look at how many industries in the 19th century and early 20th century ran their machinery using these overhead line shafts. We have a 1888 “Shepard” Lathe, an 1885 Engine Lathe” Lathe, an “Oliver” Die Filer, a “Sibley & Ware” drill press, Band Saw, Grinder, a “Ferracute” Punch Press and a “Boyton & Plummer” Shaper all running from the line shaft.
Thanks to C. W. Marsh Co., Norm and Maureen Campbell, Fred Wilder and Alcoa Howmet for major Contributions to this exhibit.
The “Made in Muskegon” exhibit is spread over much of the museum, to show manufactured items, photos and videos of a few of the hundreds of items that were manufactured in Muskegon from the mid 1800s until today. Muskegon Boiler Works, GMI Corp. (Spacelander Bike), Non-Breakable Toy Co. (Raggedy Ann Doll), Brunswick Corp., Racine Boat Co., Continental Motors Corp., Bennett Pump Co., Beebe Violins, and many more are represented in this museum-wide exhibit.
Highlights include; a working pinsetter, two aircraft engines, a 12 cyl. Sherman tank engine, vintage gas pumps, tools, toys, machinery, furniture, musical instruments, and countless other products that were made in Muskegon!
This Dake engine was built in 1917 in Grand Haven, Michigan and sold to the Ford Motor Company for their Sawmill in Pequaming, Michigan. It is a model 3 1/2 designated as a 7 horsepower engine. Invented by William F. Dake of Grand Haven in 1887, the Dake engine is a double reciprocating square piston steam engine that was patented in 1888 and manufactured by the Dake Corporation from 1887 until about 1950.
The Dake engine quickly gained worldwide acceptance and by 1893 was awarded a medal at the Worlds Colombian Exposition in Chicago. Because the engines were powered by steam and there was no danger of sparks, Dake engines were used in coal mines and for the extensive subway and railroad tunnel construction that was transforming the country at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a compact but powerful engine, and we have been told that all LST ships built during WWII had one of these for lifting the anchor.
Our Print Shop office features two working Letter Press Printing Presses and the related equipment for a print shop. This includes metal TYPE (letters, numbers and other characters) and many other tools printers would use. During your visit we might be printing with the foot operated “Chandler and Price” press that came from the Hackley Manual Training Building. You may also see the “Kluge” powered press in operation or we may be cutting paper on the large “Challenge Machinery” cutter.
Be sure to get your book mark printed on this press, free at the print shop!
Exhibit designed by Allan Dake with donations from Dale Vanderlaan and Earl Press.
This exhibit features some of Muskegon’s Historic Homes. These include photos of the inside and details about the original owners of these private residences. You can even take a Walking tour of Heritage Village. Check out the details at the museum, then grab a walking tour brochure and stroll the neighborhood to see them up close. The walk should take about 45 minutes.
Note: If you are interested in having your home recognized and having a Muskegon Heritage Home plaque to display on your home, please Click Here for more info.
The Muskegon Brewery 1877 – 1957 was located on Brewery Hill (present day Cole’s Bakery). The Grand Rapids Brewery 1935 -1946 bottled beer in that location. Then Goebel bottled beer there from 1946 – 1957. Did you know that Muskegon was one of only two places in the USA that bottled Guinness Beer?
Exhibit designed by Anne & Allan Dake with donations from Ray Hilt and Elmer Ogg.
This exhibit shows examples of engines manufactured by Continental, including a 12 cylinder air cooled Patton Battle Tank engine, a 4 cylinder aircraft engine, a 7 cylinder radial engine, a 4 cylinder marine engine, a 4 cylinder “Red Seal” stationary engine and a single cylinder “Tiny Tim” generator built during WWII. We also have photos of the buildings and a company history.
Exhibit designed by Anne & Allan Dake with donations by Murray Pulver, Torreson Marine, Jack Brewer, Steve Scott, Horizon Hobby,Tank Engine restoration by Gary Kundy and the Dake’s.
Check out our large Muskegon Lake map, showing the location of the 46 Sawmills that were running at one time. We have also added this model of a sawmill, so you can see how the logs were cut into lumber. There are many logging tools and photos for you to see.
Exhibit by Dave Dawes, Dick Didrickson and Anne & Allan Dake.
Here we display many of the hand tools woodworkers use. We have two foot powered tools; a Barnes #2 Velocipede Scoll Saw , and a treadle powered wood lathe. This is a working exhibit with saw dust and wood chips being made from time to time.
Exhibit was designed and constructed by Allan Dake.
This exhibit covers foundry businesses in Muskegon dating back to pre-1900. You can see a few of the many tools used in a small foundry including, drag & cope, sand mold, match plate, final product after being removed from the sand and some patterns. We recently added a video of the casting process that runs continuously. It is about 3 minutes long and explains the process from pattern to final product.
Arch Miller assisted with this exhibit and includes donations from Lift Tech and Century Forge.
The Sappi exhibit includes many historical photos of the Sappi site as well as equipment used for paper testing at the mill. We also have 20 foot poster of the paper making process. We have a 3D model of the #4 paper machine made by Frank Schuelke in 1962.
Exhibit by Anne and Allan Dake with help from Bob Harvey, with donations for Sappi and Melching Inc.
Now come see us!
We hope these photos and descriptions have stimulated your interest to come to the Muskegon Heritage Museum for a visit. There’s so much more to see and do here at the museum!
We wrote the book!
Our “Muskegon Industries” book is 204 pages compiled and published by the Museum to tell the history of Muskegon’s Industries. Revised with 10 new companies for 2017, it makes a great gift!
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