Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery published by the Fishtown Preservation Society (FPS) has just been named a 2013 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. Each year the Library of Michigan recognizes 20 books that celebrate Michigan people, places and events for this prestigious award.
Fishtown, in Leland, Michigan, is a rare and vibrant maritime landscape of weathered fishing shanties and fish tugs, tucked in along the Lake Michigan shoreline in view of the Manitou Islands. Fishtown has witnessed the heyday of fishing and the trials of the changing Great Lakes. It remains an active place for commercial fishing, where every year thousands of visitors experience one of Michigan’s founding industries and its Great Lakes.
In Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery, author Laurie Kay Sommers tells the story of this beloved place’s past and present. Although people throughout the Midwest know and love Fishtown, this book sheds light on a Fishtown that few but the fishermen and ferry captains have seen. It provides a deeper understanding of a historic and endangered way of life that has profoundly shaped shoreline communities in Michigan. Sommers also shares the story of a community determined not to lose this historic and picturesque attraction, and the triumphant efforts of a non-profit organization to purchase and care for a key portion of Fishtown. Above all, the book’s stories and images underscore why Fishtown matters and why it is important that it continues as a living legacy of Michigan’s maritime history.
“Fishtown is such a special place with so many incredible stories,” said Sommers. “In writing and researching this book, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to sit on the Fishtown docks or at kitchen tables throughout the community as people shared their remembrances and experiences. So many people are natural storytellers, and their tales ranged from funny to fascinating to poignant. I hope this book will serve as a tribute to those whose stories it tells.”
“FPS purchased the core historic part of Fishtown in February 2007. This book presents some of the rich history that we have been gathering as part of our due diligence in documenting and preserving Fishtown and its history,” said FPS Executive Director Amanda Holmes. “As a folklorist and historic preservationist, Laurie was the perfect person to capture the essence of Fishtown.”
“The books selected as Michigan Notable Books are just the tip of the iceberg of all of the great stories Michigan authors have to tell. Each year the selection committee chooses books that highlight the diversity found in our great state,” said State Librarian Nancy Robertson.
Robertson added, “This program successfully shines the spotlight on the number of talented writers and illustrators we have in Michigan. These books help to tell Michigan’s story. Our ‘home’ is a place where history, talent and a having special connection to our cultural heritage is greatly valued.”
Each year the Michigan Notable Books (MNB) list features 20 books published in the previous calendar year that are about Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author. Selections include nonfiction and fiction books that appeal to a variety of audiences and cover a range of topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.
Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery is published by Arbutus Press and is available at local bookstores in the Grand Traverse region, in the FPS office, and through online booksellers. The book will be available in Fishtown in summer 2013.Buy a copy
Laurie Kay Sommers is a freelance folklorist and historic preservation consultant based in Okemos, Michigan. She has been writing about Michigan history and culture since the 1970s.