Port Oneida Collection features images, oral history, maps

From staff reports

Those who are interested in the Port Oneida historic district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore might be interested to know that a new book about the place is now available. Tom Van Zoeren’s A Port Oneida Collection: Images, Oral History, Maps presents the story of each of the farms of Port Oneida, based mainly, as the title suggests, on oral history interviews conducted with residents of the community, and on photographs collected from them. It is illustrated with a detailed map of each farm. 

Many enjoy wandering the Port Oneida countryside. People come, and they fall in love. But they want to know more. Now gone are those who created, worked, and lived their lives here. What did they look like? How did they go about their activities? How did they get along with one another? How did they talk? What did they think? Those are the kinds of things that are addressed in A Port Oneida Collection.

The 280-page volume has been 27 years in the making, beginning with 14 hours of recording tape being happily filled by life-long resident Laura Basch. It is produced without private profit through a partnership of retired Park Ranger Tom Van Zoeren, Historic Sleeping Bear (the official partner organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Sleeping Bear Dunes NLS), and many others who have contributed in countless ways.

All of the interviews, digital photos, documents, and other assorted things that have been collected over the years as part of this project have been given to the National Park Service and the public through Historic Sleeping Bear (HSB). They are freely available in an online archive available in the “Explore” section of the HSB website (PHSB.org), and through VZOralHistory.org. Also included in the archive is a detailed map and database of known historic artifacts around Port Oneida—everything from the remains of early log cabins, on down to solitary remnant fence posts. (Some people enjoy the activity of wandering the countryside, seeking these things out—sort of a treasure hunt.)

A Port Oneida Collection is available at Cottage Books in Glen Arbor, Horizon Books, and through VZOralHistory.org. It is also available to view online in the “Books” section of the archive.