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Niagara Area Historical Society seeks grants for bluff marker

Our Town Niagara

Niagara Area Historical Society member Karen Klenke stands by the roadside area used for viewing the bluffs along the Menominee River. The Niagara Area Historical Society is seeking grants to place a historical marker in that area explaining the history of the bluffs. (Marguerite Lanthier/Daily News photo)

NIAGARA, Wis. — Have you ever driven through Niagara, looked at the bluffs across the Menominee River and wondered how they were created?

You may have an answer if the Niagara Area Historical Society is successful in its quest to apply for and install a historical marker from the Wisconsin State Historical Society on the geology of the bluffs.

“Each year, the sight of the rock bluff draws many to stop and wonder and photograph,” committee member Karen Klenke said. “Any time of year they are magnificent. We at the historical society feel it is our responsibility to clarify its place in our town.”

Several years ago, the chain link fence that ran across the top of the slope to the river was taken down and benches and a small pavilion were added to create a nice viewing area along that stretch of U.S. 141.

Once they secure the marker and pick a place for it, they will approach the city council for approval.

Karen Klenke shows some of the submissions from a bluffs event that was sponsored by the Niagara Area Historical Society in 2016. From left, a drawing by Jill Klenke Smith, a photo by Michael Hohol and a painting by the late Virginia Eggen. (Marguerite Lanthier/Daily News photo)

Klenke said they have secured help from Paula Leire-Engelhardt, owner and principal geologist at HydroGeo Solutions LLC of Little Suamico, Wis. She gave a presentation about the rock formations at the museum in 2016, during a special bluffs event at the museum. The “Bluffs of the Menominee” also featured an exhibit of submissions — paintings, photographs, drawings, colorings, writings and crafts — all focusing on the bluffs.

They hope to secure funding in the spring or summer before the museum hopefully reopens in 2021, after being closed all this year because of COVID-19 concerns.

Klenke said they need about $2,000 in grant money, as the plaques from the State Historical Society are “expensive but important because they are done beautifully.”

One group they have approached for funds is the M&M Foundations, which provides grants to groups and individuals in Marinette and Menominee counties.

Klenke said many people have been involved in the preservation of Niagara’s history over the years.

The museum on Main Street is in a former grocery store. Arne Haavisto, who recently passed away, was instrumental in the move to the present location.

“He was critical in the building of the mechanics of the museum,” she said.

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