Visitors to Ludington, and especially history buffs, do not want to miss these important stops on their vacation itineraries. Ludington has a history steeped in agriculture, lumbering and shipping, and two local museums pay homage to these important beginnings.
Historic White Pine Village
Take a step into the past at Historic White Pine Village, where live interpreters, extraordinary exhibits and active demonstrations allow you to see firsthand how pioneers lived in Mason County. The village contains 30 historic buildings, including a trapper’s cabin, blacksmith shop, sugar shack and sawmill shed. Visitors can head inside and peruse the numerous artifacts contained in each of these galleries.
New to the museum grounds is the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame exhibit, “Beyond the Game,” which features the history of sports on local and national levels, while also exploring the life lessons sports teach. An interactive touch-screen allows you to search the athlete you wish and read about the person’s outstanding career.
Historic White Pine Village also celebrated the opening of a second exhibit last fall called "Traveling in Time," highlighting seven historic and iconic cars from 1917 to 1967, including the Detroit Electric Opera Coupe, which was owned by a lumber baron from Ludington.
Mason County Research Center
The new Mason County Research Center is open year-round and gives you access to the area’s rich archival history through an extensive newspaper collection, scrapbook collection, and rotating artifact displays in two vaults inside the former bank building. Tours of the center are offered daily at 2 p.m., highlighting key industries and individuals that made Mason County what it is today. This center also serves as a welcoming station for Historic White Pine Village and Port of Ludington Maritime Museum.
Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
With digital storytelling and interactive exhibits, the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the history of shipping off the coast of Ludington. The three-story museum overlooks the Lake Michigan shoreline, Ludington’s iconic North Pier Light, and the historic carferry, the S.S. Badger, which is still in operation today.
The maritime museum recently opened a new Armistice Day exhibit, highlighting the effects of a deadly winter storm 80 years ago, which sank three ships in the area from Little Sable Point south of Pentwater to Big Sable Point north of Ludington: the Novadoc, William B. Davock and Anna C. Minch.
By the time the violent storm with 40-foot waves subsided, all three ships were submerged. The Davock and the Minch’s crews were gone. Survivors of the Novadoc had to burn the ship’s furniture to keep warm, while they waited another day for Lake Michigan to calm down enough for a tugboat captain to attempt a daring rescue.
The new walk-through exhibit guides participants through the momentous storm and ends with an underwater, interactive tour of what the shipwrecks look like now.
Both museums are open for the season from May through October.
If you’re looking for a true, historical experience in Ludington, consider an overnight stay at one of our legendary accommodations.
Stearns Hotel has been greeting guests for over a century on the lakeshore and is the only historical hotel left in West Michigan. It was built in 1903 by lumber baron, Justus Stearns, as Ludington’s first major hotel. While updated substantially since then, the hotel retains many historic elements of its early 20th Century heritage.
The Stearns grand ballroom, with history down to its bones, is timelessly romantic. It continues to host handsomely decorated weddings, holiday parties and celebrations as a time-honored tradition in Ludington.
Stearns Hotel is the closest accommodation to shopping, dining and the carferry, and it’s clean, comfortable rooms are equipped with amenities to make guests feel at ease. Whirlpool rooms, in-room fireplaces and kitchenettes are available, and reasonable rates make this a favorite stop in Ludington.
Experience historical elegance and tranquility at the former home of a lumber baron, which is operated as a bed and breakfast in Ludington. The Cartier Mansion is a stunning, three-story neoclassical brick and limestone estate, prominently located on the city’s main boulevard, just blocks from dozens of shops and restaurants and a short walk to Lake Michigan beaches and marinas.
Built in 1905 by lumber baron, Warren Cartier, and his wife, Catherine, it was the family home until 1950 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests at the mansion will experience luxury rooms and gourmet meals, presented by new caretakers, Chris and Jenna Simpler, who are experts in the hospitality industry. Explore the mansion’s many rooms, with original woodwork, fixtures and antiques, during a tour of the estate.
For more information about Cartier Mansion, email Jenna Simpler at email@example.com. The couple welcomes guests to this Ludington landmark.