You might need to add a trip to Ludington to your summer bucket list. That's because the 5.2 million dollar Port of Ludington Maritime Museum opened on June 10th and it's impressive. It offers a hands-on learning experience about the US Coast Guard, car ferries and Michigan shipwrecks of yesteryear.

"The goal is to tell the rich maritime history of Ludington and all of West Michigan," said Executive Director Dr. Rick Plummer. "So when a visitor walks in here they are going to be steeped in that history from the early schooner days to the advent of the car ferries to the present day with the Coast Guard."

Housed inside an old Coast Guard facility, you will be greeted by a hologram of famous captain Nels Palmer who saved lives on lake MI for 50 years. He invites you in to learn and explore.

"We are really informed by 2 qualities, one is the hands on interactivity you will find throughout the museum, but also the authenticity so that virtually everything, all the artifacts, the rich artifacts that visitors will experience are real. They came from the Coast Guard or they came from the car ferry services," explained Rick.

You might recognize the bloke who acts as Capt. Van Dyke of the Pere Marquette 22. It's another hologram, this time the actor is Rick himself. "You'll see his (Capt. Van Dyke's) quarters with everything he had in there. His desk, his chair, all of the photographs on his walls, the barometer, the ships clock, all real, all from his cabin, he even died sitting in the very chair that you'll see."

In addition to a large grant from the Michigan Dept of Transportation, all other funding for the museum came from local donors. It's quite a feat for this lakeshore community.

You'll see artifacts from MI shipwrecks and an amazing collection of lighthouses. Plus something so unique you have to take a walk to truly appreciate it: a 120 foot panorama that shows the actual expansion and history of Ludington, painted by Jacob Lunde.

"It's just a remarkable place where history comes alive and history is fun. It will be fun for the whole family. Where folks of all ages can actually steer the Pere Marquette into the Ludington Harbor. Very hands on, very interactive, people are going to have a great time here," said Rick.

The museum is open every day from 10AM to 5PM. Click here for more information.

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