Escanaba began as
a port town in the mid-to-late 1800s, gaining importance to the Union
for a shipping point for iron ore, lumber and copper during the civil
war. In his poem "The Song of Hiawatha", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
describes how Hiawatha "crossed the rushing Esconaba" refering to
the river. Located on Little Bay de Noc at the northern edge of Lake
Escanaba continues to
serve as an important shipping point for iron ore to other Great Lakes
ports, especially south to Chicago and northern Indiana.
Tourism has become a significant
portion of the local economy. Most visitors come from Wisconsin and
Illinois. A famous visit occurred in the late 1960s by legendary football
coach Vince Lombardi at the height of his fame. His daughter was married
in St. Annes church in Escanaba.