World Fair to be focus of next museum lecture

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893 still captures the public’s imagination as it was one of the most popular World’s Fairs in history.

Karen Nicholson, a volunteer at Elkhart’s Ruthmere, will explore the exposition as part of the next entry in the Spring Lecture Series at the Dowagiac Area History Museum, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6.

The program is free to museum members and costs $5 to nonmembers. Children under 18 years of age are also free. Membership will be available at the museum for those interested.

The Columbian Exposition sent millions to visit the ‘White City’ that Chicago built along the lakefront. Many of the travelers went through Dowagiac, Niles and South Bend via railroad on the way to Chicago.

Nicholson, a longtime teacher in Elkhart schools, had long been fascinated by the exposition and researched its many facets and its impact on the City of Chicago.

Nicholson will also examine some of the local connections to the fair, including two companies that had booths in the Manufacturing Building and local Potawatomi leader Simon Pokagon’s steady presence in Chicago.

Future programs in the museum’s Spring Lecture Series will be “Southwest Michigan Eats: Food and Culture of Southwest Michigan,” by Niles chef Daysha Amster on April 27; and “More Than Lures: The Heddons of Dowagiac,” by Don Lyons of the National Heddon Museum on June 1.

This program is also part of the community-wide series of programs called One Story Read, which encourages the community to read the year’s book selection and attend programs highlighting some of the themes of the book. This year’s book is “Queen of the Woods,” by Simon Pokagon, which was published in 1899.

Free copies of “Queen of the Woods” are available at participating institutions, including the Dowagiac Area History Museum, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, Dowagiac District Library and Southwestern Michigan College. Visit www.onestoryread for more information.

The Dowagiac Area History Museum is located at the corner of Division and West Railroad Streets. For more information, call the Dowagiac Area History Museum at (269) 783-2560 or visit