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Home : News : Local
4/3/2013 3:12:00 PM
City by lake is region's largest
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Front and Washington in Marquette, Mich., the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, with a population of more than 21,000.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Front and Washington in Marquette, Mich., the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, with a population of more than 21,000.
Photo by Shawn Malone
A Great Lakes bulk freighter docks at Marquette.
Photo by Shawn Malone
A Great Lakes bulk freighter docks at Marquette.
+ view more photos
Bishop Sample speaks to middle schoolers during a 2011 conference in Marquette.

Massive Lake Superior looms aside this town of 21,000. The lake is royal blue in the summer, steely white with ice in the winter. It's 120 miles across the water to Canada at the nearest point.

Just offshore from downtown Marquette is a behemoth old dock. There, Great Lakes bulk freighters, the length of three football fields, would be loaded with iron ore to haul east to Sault St. Marie to be made into steel for buildings, cars and appliances.

A dock, just as big, was constructed a few miles down shore, but the old one remains as a testament of glory days past. This summer, iron and copper mining companies around the Upper Peninsula announced layoffs.

Trim homes — nothing too ostentatious — line the bluff above the lake. A perky business district near the shore includes a history museum, restaurants like an Irish pub and plenty of taverns. There is no Mexican restaurant in Marquette.

Marquette averages about 12 feet of snow per year, so winter is white, gray and long. Summers can mean high humidity, but also days in the 70s with a gentle breeze coming off the giant lake. Fall colors on hardwood trees draw visitors from all over the region before the November gale season begins. The shipping of ore pauses for winter, because ice blocks access to docks.

At Sawyer International Airport, located at a closed Air Force base south of Marquette, a snow blower the size of a cement mixer hurls the day's fall off the runway. A glaze of white remains, but that daunts neither passenger nor pilots. It's all in a day's work and no one even talks about snow as it piles up to three feet or so.

Over the years the Catholic Church has worked closely with the city providing cultural, social, and ecumenical services at its facilities. Numerous mayors, state representatives, and university presidents have been members of local parishes.  

The 1959 crime drama "Anatomy of a Murder" was filmed in Marquette. Jimmy Stewart plays a folksy but sharp-minded Upper Peninsula attorney trying to defend a man accused of murdering his wife's rapist.

What is now known as the "temporary insanity" defense comes into play. In one scene, Stewart walks in front of St. Peter Cathedral as the bells are tolling.  

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