Port Huron Museums acquire trolley for $1, viral videos inspire tours of historic city sites

Murder and mayhem in Port Huron.

Commerce and industry of the Blue Water Area.

City schools and neighborhoods.

All these and more could be coming in the way of guided tours from the team at Port Huron Museums, and as soon as this fall, too.

It’s all been made possible thanks to a gift – okay, $1 sale – of a diesel-powered trolley from Blue Water Area Transit.

It’s a deal that’s been in the works well before COVID-19, says Andrew Kercher, community engagement manager for Port Huron Museums.

Since the transit group switched to natural gas-powered trolleys, the diesel trolleys have been taking up space in the garage. A conversation was struck between BWAT and the museums, leading to the $1 sale.

Initially the vision was to include the trolley as part of Port Huron Museums site rentals, an already popular option for Blue Water weddings and other events. Port Huron Museums include Carnegie Center, Thomas Edison Depot, Lightship Huron, and Fort Gratiot Light Station.

But when COVID-19 shut down the museums, Kercher started streaming historic walking tours online, just to keep the organization’s social media active while the sites themselves lay dormant.

The videos have become a viral sensation, garnering thousands upon thousands of views and shares across social media.

"I started doing these historic-walking tours and they generated a lot of interest," Kercher says.

"They’re popular online during COVID so what’s better than doing them live and in-person?"

Kercher is planning on taking his tours to the trolley, offering guided trips around town as soon as this fall. The themes could change, but he’s excited about the aforementioned trio.

In the meantime, Port Huron Museums are open, albeit running under limited hours of operation. Also, the popular Margarita Monday event at Fort Gratiot Light Station is scheduled to return on Monday, July 20. Rules of social distancing will apply.

"If every cloud has a silver lining, it’s what COVID has done for us. We’re blown away by the response we’ve been receiving in just trying to keep our social media active," Kercher says.

"We always knew that we’d do more tours but their popularity on social media made us expand our vision.

"You can’t say that people here aren’t interested in their history, that’s for sure."

Visit Port Huron Museums online for more information about events and updates to hours of operation.