Webster Marble: Inventing the Outdoors Museum
Delta County, Michigan, is the knife manufacturing center of the Midwest. We have more knife creators than we can mention on this page. Some of the names you probably recognize are Webster Marble, Bark River Knives, and Rapid River Knifeworks because of their reputation for manufacturing the world’s best knives.
In-Depth Tour of Webster Marble Museum below!
With all the outdoor adventure and excitement there is to experience in the Upper Peninsula, visitors have found you need a trusted blade to help forge a path, start a fire, or for protection. There are so many practical uses for a great knife, and you will find some of the best right here in Delta County!
This industry’s roots can be traced to when Webster Marble began his career as a timber cruiser and surveyor. He arrived in Gladstone, Michigan, around the same time as the town was founded in 1887. Five years later, he developed his first invention – a folding pocket axe. Because of his forest experience as a surveyor, he realized the dangers of an axe with an open blade to the woodsmen who carried them. With the invention of the safety axe, the Marble Axe Company was born.
Scores of inventions followed, including an impressive line of knives, compasses, waterproof matchboxes (Match Safe), and his famous “Game Getter” rifle with a folding handle. Many of Marble’s inventions are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C, but you can see some here in Escanaba!
In many ways, Webster Marble sparked the knife manufacturing industry in the Upper Peninsula years ago and attracted thousands of visitors to the area’s natural beauty. His inventions supplied adventure seekers with the tools they needed and inspired today’s manufacturers to make world-class knives.
This exhibit takes visitors on a journey beginning in the late 19th-century when a rapidly urbanizing America began to seek wild and beautiful places for recreation and rejuvenation. The exhibit explores Marble’s genius for innovation, experimenting and improving upon tools that didn’t meet his needs as an outdoorsman, and for marketing his creations across the globe. Marble would eventually own more than 60 patents for outdoor products.
After traveling from the History Museum in Lansing to the Negaunee Iron Museum, we are excited that Webster Marble’s Inventing the Outdoors is back where it all began in Delta County, located at 1001 North Lincoln Road in Escanaba, MI 49829.
Explorers from Robert Perry and Teddy Roosevelt to Charles Lindbergh depended on Marble’s products’ absolute reliability. By the time Henry Ford rolled his first Model T off the assembly line, Marble was a household name, and his company was outfitting millions of outdoor enthusiasts with Michigan-made products. His designs for products set the standard for the 20th century in the outdoor goods market and are still influential today. By the way, a Model T touring vehicle is part of this exhibit.
Some of the other special artifacts here include the Marble’s safety folding axes, many unique hunting knives, automatic fish gaffs, and the famous Game Getter gun.
Delta County Knife Manufacturers
Bark River Knives is a family-owned business whose goal is to produce the finest semi-production cutting tools available on the market. At Bark River, the emphasis is on the maximum performance of their products. They use a blend of traditional and contemporary designs and styles. Their manufacturing methods are also a blend of modern and traditional to gain needed tolerances while maintaining the subtle features that have produced exemplary cutting implements for centuries.
Established in the spring of 2002, Rapid River Knifeworks seems pre-destined to become the next great producer of high-quality custom knives. With a lot of skill, a few pieces of machinery, and some really big dreams, they developed a line of custom knives that combine beauty with strength and practical usability. Sportsmen and women responded favorably to this line of high-quality hunting and fishing knives. You can use these knives in the field without sacrificing the great looks of a knife you’d be proud to display on your mantle.
Webster L. Marble came to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the early 1890s and quickly gained the reputation of being one of the region’s finest “timber cruisers.” His uncanny ability to look at a specific forest acreage and predict the board foot yield made him very popular with the many logging companies in the area. Marble loved the outdoors, and the vast Upper Peninsula offered innumerable opportunities to hunt, fish, camp, and explore the environment. An inventor by nature, he was continually seeking to create useful tools and equipment that would be both practical and durable in the outdoors.
Upper Peninsula Veterans Museum
This is the first time that a space is dedicated to recounting stories of veterans from across the entire Upper Peninsula. For nearly two centuries, U.P. men and women have served our nation. They have made sacrifices to ensure our freedom and have shaped communities throughout the U.P. This museum helps visitors understand the military experience. It tells stories of uncommon valor displayed by U.P. soldiers. And through artifacts, honors, letters home, diaries, and other materials, help us all remember and understand our veterans’ enduring contribution.
Delta County Historical Society
The Delta County Historical Society was founded in 1948. This newly formed non-profit organization’s primary objective was to collect local historical materials, preserve them, and present this information to the citizens of Delta County to make them more fully aware of the area’s rich past. Today the Delta County Historical Society is proud to operate its museum, archives, and Sand Point Lighthouse for locals and visitors alike.