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The Ecorse Historical Society collects and preserve artifacts, documents, photographs, hardware, furniture and most memorabilia pertaining to the history of Ecorse, Michigan.  The Historical Society will be a community resource that educates and engages to tell the whole story of Ecorse.

The History of Shipbuilding in Ecorse
Great Lakes Engineering Works

The Great Lakes Engineering Works (GLEW) was a leading shipbuilding company with a shipyard in Ecorse, Michigan, that operated between 1902 and 1960. Within three years of its formation, it was building fifty percent of the tonnage of all ships in the Great Lakes. During World War II, GLEW was commissioned by Pittsburgh Steamship Company and the U.S. Maritime Commission to build twenty-one ore freighters. Its innovations included the first self-unloader freighter, SS Wyandotte. GLEW is best known for its construction of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.

Founded in 2016, the Ecorse Historical Society is a 501c3, non-profit organization managed by a team of volunteers. We collect, preserve, and will make available information and objects that reflect a diverse Ecorse past for current and future generations. 

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Steamer: Detroit of Detroit

Built at Great Lakes Engineering Works (GLEW) in Ecorse, Michigan - 1904. 

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Coming up in May...

                     Memorial Day Celebration

                      Monday, May 27, 2024, at John D. Dingell Park


Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. From 1868 to 1970, it was observed on May 30. Since 1971, it is observed on the last Monday of May.

Annual Memorial Day Event in Ecorse, Michigan on Monday, May 27, 2024, from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. The event will be held at

John D. Dingell Park, on the waterfront located at 4501 West Jefferson, Ecorse, MI 48229. It’s a wonderful opportunity to honor and remember our veterans and their sacrifices. 

If you’re in the area, we encourage you to attend this meaningful event and pay tribute to those who have served our country. 

VETERANS - Click the pic to register for the Memorial Day event!

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The EHS meets the 3rd Saturday of each month (except December) at 1:00 pm at:

Albert Buday Civic Center

3869 W. Jefferson Ave.

2nd Fl., Conference Rm. B

Ecorse, MI 48229

The public is welcome to attend.


Transfer Steamer:  Detroit (in the ice) - 1905



The Detroit was the second ship built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, and was christened November 1904. It was built for the Michigan Central RR and intended to connect Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. The Detroit was sold to the Wabash RR in 1912, and again changed hands in 1969 when the Wabash merged with Norfolk Southern. By 1970 it had been converted to barge service. In 1994, NS stopped ferry operations and the Detroit was sold for scrap.

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Small historical societies play a crucial role in safeguarding and preserving our historical heritage. These often volunteer-run organizations operate museums, archives, and historic houses, interpreting the past for the public. 

Here are some key points about the future of small historical societies:

  1. Historical Significance: Many local historical societies were founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by amateur historians. These societies aimed to celebrate the significance, growth, and business potential of their communities. Their missions included preserving the legacy of ancestors, commemorating local heroes, and safeguarding historic architecture.

  2. Challenges: Today, over 10,000 local historical societies and small museums exist in the United States. However, many of these societies face challenges. They are often tiny, underfunded, and understaffed. For instance, more than 50% of historical museums  operate on a budget of less than $25,000 per year. Approximately 15% of local historical societies are staffed entirely by volunteers, while only 25% have more than one professional staff member.

  3. Resilience and Dormancy: Some societies may go dormant due to financial constraints or lack of active members. However, there are instances of revival. For example, Ripton’s historical society relaunched in 2013, and neighboring Hancock’s did the same in 2016.

  4. Flexibility and Adaptation: To ensure their future, historical societies must remain flexible and adaptable. Incorporating new movements, ideas, and technologies is essential. While creating new societies for every subdiscipline isn’t sustainable, existing societies should find ways to accommodate change.

The future of small historical societies depends on their ability to adapt, engage with the community, and continue their vital work in preserving our shared history.

Joining a historical society can be a rewarding experience for several reasons:

  1. Preserving Heritage: Historical societies play a crucial role in preserving our cultural heritage. By joining, you actively contribute to the protection and appreciation of historical artifacts, documents, and traditions.

  2. Community Connection: These societies provide a sense of community and connection with like-minded individuals who share an interest in history. You’ll have the opportunity to engage in discussions, attend events, and collaborate on projects related to your local or national history.

  3. Learning Opportunities: Historical societies often organize lectures, workshops, and educational programs. By participating, you can expand your knowledge about historical events, figures, and the evolution of society.

  4. Advocacy and Awareness: These societies advocate for the importance of history in public culture. By joining, you support their efforts to raise awareness about historical significance and promote its relevance in today’s world.

  5. Access to Resources: Membership grants you access to archives, libraries, and research materials specific to historical topics. Whether you’re a casual history enthusiast or a serious researcher, these resources can be invaluable.

  6. Preserving Local History: If you’re passionate about your local community, joining a historical society allows you to actively participate in preserving and documenting local history. You can contribute firsthand accounts, photographs, and stories.

  7. Leadership and Volunteering: Historical societies often rely on volunteers. By joining, you can take on leadership roles, organize events, and contribute your skills to the society’s mission.

Joining a historical society not only enriches your understanding of the past but also empowers you to be part of a collective effort to safeguard our shared history. 

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