Apr 10-11

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2011: April: Apr 10-11
Champion Beach Park    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Frank Paris
Viewed from down the shore    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Frank Paris
Future Van Riper State Park    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Frank Paris
From: "Guide to the Wolverine State" 1949    ...scroll down to share comments
The Federal Writers Project

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 11:00 am:

You are welcome to add your memories of "Champion Beach" aka Van Riper State Park. Weather related problems this morning delayed our Sunday update, so please check these notes later for some personal memories about this park.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 11:09 am:

This picture wasn't taken on THIS day, I hope. That water would be like sitting in a bathtub full of ice cubes! It is a really cool park, though.

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 03:52 pm:

Good historic pictures. In case anyone doesn't know, The "Guide to the Wolverine State" was part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to put unemployed writers back to work through the W.P.A., resulting in the book's first publishing in 1941 (W.P.A. stood for Works Progress Administration, but critics of it said it stood for "we putter around").

By Diana P. (Diana) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 05:08 pm:

Charlie, I'm looking forward to hearing your memories of this area! My Dad called it "Champion Beach", and I had though it was always part of Van Riper State Park ... but not so. My parents took their two grandchildren and me for a picnic/beach day at Champion Beach/Van Riper State Park in the late 80's. The beach was nice and sandy (unlike a lot of Lake Michigamme), the swimming area remained shallow a long way out, and there were some very tall swings on the beach that my kids enjoyed! It doesn't seem like the white buildings pictured were there at that time, although there was a changing house/restroom building. Most notable was an old, large log building set back a ways ... I think its' roof is visible in the first photo. Dad said one of the things it was used for was dances. :)

By J T (Jtinchicago) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 06:52 pm:

To extend Mr. Baird's point a bit on the WPA, one of the more prolific upper Michigan writer's of that time was Walter Havighurst. Among his many books is the "The Greats Lakes Reader". Not a bad read.


By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 07:42 pm:

Like Diane, I remember it as Champion Beach, and remember
swimming there as a child. My daughter, son-in-law, and
grandson enjoy spending time there during the summer to this day.
A few summers ago, there were storytelling events at the state
campgrounds, and I remember enjoying an evening (as a non-
camper--our cottage is less than an hour away) listening to a
ranger telling stories of the area--some of them about the
McCormack (sp.?) family's extensive property across the road (US

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 09:23 pm:

One June morning in 1965 I saw Michigamme's shore for the first time. Our youth group had traveled overnight in a big yellow school bus all the way from the Pontiac area (Gingellville) headed for Camp Gitche Gumee in Eagle River. Van Riper State Park was just finishing its first year under the new name, known as Champion Beach prior to that time. Our group leaders wanted us to swim in water colder than we had downstate, but not as cold as Superior. Van Riper had some newly updated facilities where we could change, so we all piled in.

I remember two things about that swim. It WAS cold, and the water was quite red in color. You can see some of it splashing on a toddler's toes in this short video. As it turned out - after we went on to Eagle River - Lake Superior was a LOT colder.

Paul Van Riper was the local doctor after whom the park was named in 1964. There is some good history about Dr. Van Riper and the Park in this article in a Marquette Monthly from last summer. Also a nice overview of the place at Hunt's Guide to the U.P.

In the final image above from "Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State", in addition to the paragraph about Champion Beach Park, Presbytery Point and Michigamme Institue were mentioned in the 1949 publication. Join us next Sunday as we continue our look at these Lake Michigamme landmarks.

Have a good week :o)

By Warren Gilbert (Warren) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 10:11 pm:

I love the old pictures. My wife and I and 3 kids used to camp at Van Riper in the 70s. I still like to stop there when we're driving to through the U.P.
In those days it was a beautiful place to spend a week. It had a great beach and good fishing in the lake. I remember the brownish color of the water due to the tannins from the runoff and maybe the iron also. Even the the walleyes had a brownish color. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Monday, April 11, 2011 - 08:39 am:

Charlie--Thanks for those references. I had not seen the article in
the "Marquette Monthly." Interesting reading.

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Monday, April 11, 2011 - 11:00 am:

It is hard to believe but we went to CHAMPION BEACH in the 1940's. Our family had no "auto" but our neighbors i.e. the Viaro's had no children at home so we were their guest often to the beach and also out to Twin Lakes near Painesdale.

Is hard to explain this to kids today about living without a car, phone, I-Pod, computer, fax etc, and taking the bus to a movie with $.25 cents in our pocket for the afternoon.

By tim larsen (Starrnote) on Monday, April 11, 2011 - 07:56 pm:

I like the description of "stoves, tables and FREE WOOD for picnickers"...LOL!

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 02:26 am:

By my calculations a family of four would have an area approximately 65.5 feet on a side at maximum capacity of the 379 acre park. Roughly 32' by 32' per person and a strip of beach/water a foot wide per family assuming a square 370 acre parcel. high density camping, indeed!

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