Portage, Mich., officials are putting together a $235,000 museum that will pay tribute to one of the most important things in Kalamazoo County history - celery.

"Celery really kind of put Kalamazoo on the map," said Michigan historian Larry Massie. "From 1890 until the 1920s, the Kalamazoo area was one of the world leaders in the production of celery."Dutch settlers began growing celery in Kalamazoo in the early 19th century, and their success spurred celery farms in Portage, Massie said.2/3

However, in the 1930s celery farming gave way to paper mills.

Work on the museum, called the Celery Flats Interpretive Center, is scheduled to begin in August and is to be completed by April 1989.

The museum will offer historic and working displays on celery farming. Portage officials said they have gathered enough artifacts for the center but are looking for more objects, such as celery washers and railroad carts.

"It's been difficult finding items because it (celery farming) happened so long ago and no one locally has a good collection of artifacts," Clifford Mulder, an assistant to Portage City Manager Michael Stampfler said recently.