Port Oneida is a 3,400-acre rural historic district that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1997, with a period of significance of 1870-1945. It is a historic vernacular landscape, meaning that it has evolved through use by ordinary people over time. Through the social or cultural attitudes and practices of an individual, family or community, these places reflect the physical, biological, and cultural qualities of everyday lives.
Port Oneida includes 121 contributing buildings, 5 contributing sites, and 20 contributing structures with an additional 14 noncontributing buildings at 28 locations within Port Oneida. The locations include NPS-owned farms (14), NPS-owned barns (4), privately-owned farms (5), and schools (2, one of which is NPS-owned). The NPS has researched and developed a regional historical context for agriculture in the National Lakeshore, including detailed site inventory and resource condition documentation. These efforts indicate that Port Oneida is the largest and most complete historic agricultural landscape in public ownership in the U.S.
One of our Visitor Guide booklets is a driving tour of Port Oneida which leads you through the historic district and gives a little background on each of the historic farms and the families who lived there. The booklet is available to download for FREE: Port Oneida Driving Tour 020511. It is also available for a donation at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Empire.
Tom Van Zoeren spent many hours with current and former residents of the Port Oneida area learning about the people who lived here and what their lives were like. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes supports Tom’s efforts by funding transcription of the oral history recordings to make them more easily searched and used for interpretive projects. Tom has published several books that document some of the families who lived in Port Oneida. You can find his books on www.vzoralhistory.com.