THE END (and a new beginning!)…

There are those times in every person’s life when a little re-evaluation is required – a time to stop, sit back, and take a good hard long look at your life. Last week was one of those times for me – which coincidentally matched up to my latest birthday. I’m not going to share my age, but lets just say that I’m not getting any younger. The result of that realization has caused me some pause in my daily rituals, and to take that hard long look for myself. A large focus of that long hard look was this website – which has become a large part of my life these last few years.

When I created this website years ago, I had many hopes for what it would eventually become. I envisioned a slow but steady growth, the result of which would be a modestly successful site with a good amount of readers that would generate a small amount of income. Things, unfortunately, haven’t worked out as I had planned. My readership has remained constant (at only about 100 people a day), and income has been zip. Copper Country Explorer has turned out to be anything but what I had first envisioned.

But I did have readers – and a collection of very supportive readers who kept me going day after day. Readers who constantly challenged me, provided resources I couldn’t of gotten on my own, sent great photos and stories that brightened my days, bought my DVD and donated money (thank you all very much for that!), and had in-depth discussions with me on various historical topics of the day. It was readers like yourselves (which are probably the only ones reading this as well) that have kept this site alive for the past year and I appreciate all you guys very much.

But the facts are the facts. Copper Country Explorer has not succeeded to gain an audience, and never will in its current state. I would like to think its just the black backgrounds and light text, but its more complicated then that. Another cosmetic site re-design is not going to cut it. What needs to be done is a complete re-envisioning from the ground up – a shake up in terms of style, content, and tone. Something drastic that should have been done months ago – but am now doing today.

So starting today Copper Country Explorer will no longer be updated. While I will continue to host it, and will continue to respond to comments and emails; I will no longer post new content. The site will exists solely, at least in the near future, as an archives of my explorations and very little else. To my loyal readers over the last few years I apologize, but I have to move on to bigger and better things. Part of that process is letting go of explorer. But there is good news. While Explorer may be finished, I am not. I am currently working on a new site to take its place, one that will continue the work Explorer has done and expand it to a whole new level. I’m not going to go into specifics today, but just know that something is coming to take CC Explorer’s place.

Towards that end I ask my loyal readers to help me out. Take the time let me know what you liked best about explorer and what you would love to see in a new web site about the copper country. Try to be as specific as you can, let me know what type of stuff copper country lovers out there would love to have on the net. Consider the comments an open discussion on this site and the future site. I’ll be waiting to here from you!

(Oh, by the way, the new site will NOT be black with a light grey text. So you don’t have to say it. I know.)

41 comments

  1. Mike…

    First of all I’ll have to apologize for your comment becoming stuck in my spam filter – I unfortunately didn’t get to OK’ing it until today. That being said, thanks for the great compliment – it always makes my day when my readers drop a note letting me know they appreciate this site and the work that goes into it. Thanks you. Though I’m in the middle of a small holiday hiatus here at CCE, I assure you that new posts will continue in the near future.

    As for the archive CD idea, its a good one. I’m currently working on a DVD project that uses some material from this site which could be viewed without a computer. But its currently in the early stages and we’ll see how it goes.

  2. It looks like I discovered your website a little bit late (i. e. today). After spending several hours “surfing” through the site, I can appreciate the huge amount of time and effort that you put into it. You have created a very valuable resource, both for mining types, historians, and tourists. Thank you so much for sharing your extensive knowledge. I certainly hope that the Copper Country Explorer will continue to stay on-line. Have you considered making (and selling) an archival CD containing all the content material that could be used off-line with Internet Explorer.

  3. A few years ago I worked at MTU on the then new science & lecture hall. Being from Oconto, Wisconsin I was in awe at all of the remaining buildings I could see in the Houghton area. I indeed just loved this area. You have done what I always wanted to do explore the area, I had a family to feed so I had to work at that, I’ve been back to Houghton four times, and now live on the Menominee river. Your site has let me return to Houghton and see all the things I never got to see back then, for that I Thank You very much. Jim Hanna

  4. Mike,

    I was at a Kennecott mine but not THE Kennecott mine, I was up at Greens Creek outside of Juneau (Admiralty Island). I do plan on going back to see the Kennecott mine, my friend is planning an expedition to the mine this summer but with work starting to get busy with the thaw I don’t think I’ll make it. Way cool state though and teh price of the trip was worth while ;)

    take care

  5. Joe..

    Alaska! You hadn’t of gotten around to the Kennecott Copper Mine to take some pictures did you? Probably not considering you were (air quote) working (air quote), but you were so close! I’ve always been fascinated by those ruins – better then anything I find around here (no offense to the CC of course). There’s always that tempting idea of moving to Alaska and starting Alaska Explorer…

    Anyway I’m jealous, thanks for checking in.

  6. Kurt,

    So you bought John’s old mine… I tried to convince my wife to let me purchase the property but she wouldn’t let me. If you want/need any help from a mining engineer let me know, jadase at mtu dot edu

    Mike,
    sorry for the long delay, I just got back from Alaska and with my current jobs things have been getting hectic. I’m glad to hear that more work will be dont on the site!

    Cheers
    Joe

  7. Jay..

    Don’t worry – its coming back. I’m setting up the style sheets as we speak to allow you guys to pick between the black background or this new white background. Patience everyone…

  8. BTW,

    Call me a freak, but I miss the black background with gray text. I

  9. Kurt,

    I’d love to check it out, but don’t think I can make it up there this spring. How about a tour of the adit next time I’m up there? ;)

  10. I don’t know about spring, but I know We’ll be back up there sometine in August. Maybye we’ll swing by and see if you are around.

    Bill

  11. Sounds nifty. I’d wander by. :)

  12. Capt. Kurt Fosburg

    Hello Jay,

    Yes, I get the top of the cliff as well (20 acres total). I also have the full mineral rights so I can legally open the adit as long as I secure it when not around; I plan on opening it this summer. I’ve spent a lot of time underground in the Keweenaw and am excited to have my own mine to crawl in. I am collecting tons of data and photos, and have one underground stope map to go by. Unfortunately the water level won’t be that far down so it’ll be limited to the adit level, for now. I am considering inviting all the interested CCE viewers to a gathering on the rock pile this spring, when the stupid snow leaves. Thoughts? KF

  13. Mike,

    I too am disappointed that I won’t be able to get my daily CCE fix. I completely understand trying to make money from something that you love doesn’t always go as planned. I look forward to the new site and will always check back here for the sporadic updates.

    You might be surprised by the amount of interest in a coffee table book. There are quite a few on demand publishers (they print books as needed instead of 1,000 or more at a time). You could definitely sell them here and on your new site as well as the many tourist oriented stores in the Keweenaw.

    Capt. Kurt Fosberg,

    Congrats on your recent purchase of the Robbins/West Vein mine. I for one am definitely jealous!!! What a cool piece of property that has to be. Does your property actually include part of the Cliff (not mine, the actual cliff itself)?

    Not to be a spoiler, but will the local mine inspectors let you open the adit without giving you tons of grief? It will be worth it, but a lot of work. The timbers in there have to be over one hundred years old and let’s face it, it’s not exactly a warm, dry climate inside a mine.

  14. Dale..

    Thanks for stopping by! Glad you have enjoyed the site and thank you for the nice comments. Readers like yourself are truly appreciated. Got some stuff to figure out yet, but I think CCE will live on to some degree – so you can explore the Copper Country again in the future. In fact I’m working on a post or two as we speak to hopefully put up here by the end of the week. So stay tuned!

  15. Add me to the list of folks who didn’t notice tne “end” entry at the bottom of the page until today. I just assumed updates had been delayed because things got busy. In any case, I’m sorry things didn’t work out as you had hoped for this site.

    It’s been a great joy to me. I was first introduced to the UP and the Keweenaw when I went to MTU in 1984. I didn’t have wheels my first two years, so my exploring was limited by the generosity of friends who were planning their own exploring trips. And even after I had wheels, I tended to gravitate to the sites that had become favorites over the years – the Cliff Drive area, Copper Falls, Brockway, etc. Unfortunately I’ve never been a great photographer, and my budget back then couldn’t afford much more than a basic low-cost film camera. So my collection of photos of the area is nearly non-existant. Your site has opened whole new sections of the Copper Country to me that in some cases I didn’t even know existed (or if I heard of them, didn’t know where they were), and probably wouldn’t have had time to explore if I had known about them. And you’ve also provided the photos that I never took of the familiar places!

    Good luck on the new site! I hope it turns out to be a more successful venture, however you are defining success.

    Thanks again!
    Dale

  16. dcclark-

    I know you had brought it up much earlier, but I forgot to respond to your inquiry about the scrapbook. I think it will still survive to some degree – but not here on explorer.

    Jeremiah..

    About that Pasty link – I don’t have one since I’m not hosted through them. I’ve had a few mentions on the site from commenters which have been helpful though – that site is sort of the gatekeeper to the virtual Copper Country for sure.

  17. Jeremiah..

    Thanks for the nice comments – but the link is a dead end. But thanks to google I was able to find some on Mr. Hockney – very interesting stuff. His is a tab bit more abstract then what I’ve been attempting. However, his work does exemplify that surreal quality found in photo-merge images – a physical distortion that he works to his advantage. My hope is to cut down on that distortion as much as possible – so I would move a little more towards realism then he has.

  18. PS – is there a link to CCE from pasty.com ? (I don’t think there is, eh?) I bet that would help generate traffic. . . .

  19. I’m glad to hear CCE will still be available, and maybe even updated yet, from time to time. I too think it’s a great site, as I’ve mentioned to you before. My favorite things about it are the photodocumentation aspect and the overall style – it’s awesome. I love the black background, and I really love the tinted black and white photos, and I love the gray text too. I have to admit, I haven’t looked at the photo collages all that much, but reading the discussion here made me wonder if you’re familiar with David Hockney’s work – ? He’s done some pretty famous photo collages – I had instructors in college who were totally into his work and had us all experiment with the same methods. You can see examples at the authorized Hockney website here: http://www.hockneypictures.com/photos/photos_collages_01.php. Thanks again for all your work!

  20. Hi,

    Been enjoying CCE for several months now after discovering it.

    Would like to send you some suggestions in general for “CCE” and/or whatever comes after. Drop me an e-mail if interested… it’s a bit lengthy (and pardon me for jumping in the dog pile on the subject)… but the black/grey screen will make me blind before I get it all typed in. -Bill

  21. yeah i understand what you mean….i felt kind of lost when i first started trying to write what is still my first book…and often i am STILL lost, haha

    but if you want any advice, i’d be happy to offer what i can. my project is similar in scope, in that it is all about the history of an abandoned place that i have explored, but it is not going to be a “coffee table book.”

  22. Adam..

    Thank you very much for such a great comment on this site and the work I do here – its much appreciated. I love your “urban” archeology interpretation (except for the fact I’m rural) – and understand what you mean. I like to think of it as “guerilla” archeology – a grass roots type of historical interpretation. I like to make observations on the ground and try to find and interpret patterns in what I see. It’s great to know that my readers appreciate what I’ve tried to do here – it makes all the work worth it in the end.

    As far as the coffee table book – I love the idea but am not sure how to go about it. Ever since I took those panoramic images in the Champion No. 4 (using a technique I like to call light painting) I have been fascinated in the art form. It creates a unique image that doesn’t capture real space but instead a type of distorted representation of real space. I’m not being very clear, but lets just say I am whole heartedly moving in that direction for my next project. I want to experiment further with the art from – especially at night.

  23. Capt. Kurt Fosburg

    To Dcclark and fellow explorers… for the most part nothing will change at the Robbins until I move up there in a year or two. Even then, nothing will happen with the mine site itself except the reopening of the adit which will be locked private property. I’m going to limit hard-core digging on the pile however. When (or if) spring arrives I’ll be the guy in camo on top of the pile with a beer in my hand, surveying my little piece of heaven. BYOB.

  24. D’OH! What a bummer, but i can understand. Personally though, i liked the dark background and light text. much easier on the eyes. I dont think i couldve have asked for a better site, though with the last change you made i think it was more confusing to navigate than before…

    What i loved most…i’d say your combining great photos with even better research quality, and a willingness to blend the two into a perfect example of “modern” or “urban” archaeology (if that makes sense).

    The product was a quality piece of vigilante-style historianism, not the typical pretentious fluff of lesser “exploring” sites. In a nutshell, strong content–creative content, backed up by noticably arduous footwork. By reading, i felt like i was getting something for free that i ought normally be paying for in hardback form.

    It also helped pacify the frustration i sometimes feel at living 12 hrs away from the joys of Copper Country.

    Cheers on this, and your future enterprises.

    As a closing thought, i too had often said to myself how AWESOME a coffee table book this would make. I mean, anybody can whip together one of those little Arcadia books; but with the proper selling angle, the sheer content of CopperCountryExplorer could EASILY become a full-fledged hardcover.

    Also–ditto on the panoramics.

  25. I too, have looked forward to visiting this site each day. I am sorry to see it end, but wish you luck and look forward to your new endeavor.

    One suggestion that has been discussed before- I would have liked to have had a way to find some of the sites you have visited and/or mentioned. Specifically, GPS generated coordinates would have been great.

    As you have found, nature has a way of mending the intrusions of man, and even with directions and a map, often it is difficult to locate these treasures of history.

    And let me add a thank you too, to the readers who have volunteered their expertise and/or knowledge with their comments.

  26. Kurt – I recall from some other post you made that your new land at the cliffs would stay open to hikers of the “take only photos, leave only footprints” kind. Is that still true? If not I may have to ask for forgiveness already…

    Mike – Are you going to (eventually) post about the Albion rock? I’m curious about where it is — there are several lookouts that I can think of at the Cliffs.

  27. Kurt, glad my site was such an inspiration to a fellow explorer – that means a lot and I thank you for letting me know. I’m glad I was around to help. The cliff area is our favorite to explore by far and return often. In fact, we just went up there again last week. (found what we think was “albion rock” – and gave myself a nasty cold in the process.) Funny that I haven’t covered it very much here on the site however – weird…

    You guys have made me feel a little selfish for shutting this thing down, but I’m glad to here the nice words. Thanks again.

    I’m currently finalizing the template for the new site and hope to have it running next week. I’ve also figured out some more things and have come to the conclusion that Explorer will live on, just not as a daily blog as it had been. The new site will carry the daily content, while this site will be used for articles and exploration journals from time to time. (I’m aiming for about 1 new article a week if I can get it working).

    Anyway, more details to come!

  28. Capt. Kurt Fosburg

    Bummer. Sorry to see the site end, as I only discovered it last fall. Outstanding photography and interesting content (I don’t even mind the black background with grey print!). Your site actually re-kindled my CC history, reminding me of all the scrounging around I did over 25 years ago (wow, talk about feeling old…). I have recently purchased the Robbins/West Vein Mine which has got my history juices flowing, leading me to Crestview, the Keweenaw Central Railroad, Clifton, etc. So, Thank You for the boost I needed to get off the couch and back into the woods! Best of luck with all your future projects.

  29. I understand the time pressure that having daily content causes… Explorer will still be awesome even with occasional updates. They’re very high-quality when they happen!

    To that end, I have a few bazillion photos of interesting places around the Keweenaw. Are you planning to continue the “Copper Country Scrapbook”?

  30. Thanks for more great suggestions. I already know that the new site will be very simple, so there shouldn’t be anything to trip up IE (I hope). As for the publishing idea, I had never thought of that. I had thought of perhaps a coffee table book or something with some of my panoramics…

    Good news is that it looks like Explorer will survive past the new sites introduction – but on a limited basis. While the new site will be updated daily, this one will only receive updates from time to time when I got new material to share. It wasn’t so much Explorer itself that was the problem, it was trying to create daily content that became too much. While the new site will still have daily content, it will be much easier to produce then the stuff I make for explorer.

    Thanks again for all of your support and suggestions! I’m looking into it all.

  31. I very much enjoyed the site as well. I very much appreciate that you have an RSS feed for it too. I don’t think the problem lies within the design. I think one of the problems is possibly the fact that many “yoopers” who really would appreciate this aren’t internet saavy. One recommendation I have is that you could release a quarterly publication and distribute it around up there in addition to the website. I know the internet is more cost effective, but print media still thrives up in that area. If you do go that route I recommend http://www.scribus.net. It’s a free & open source piece of publication software. I think a publication like that would do well up there in addition to help with some site referrals. Also you might be able to get local business to place ads. I know you might not want to go the advertising route, but considering it’s a highly targeted audience I think it would work well for you. Either way, good luck with your new adventures. I look forward to seeing what you churn out.

  32. Well this bites, I have also enjoyed the site and having to dig into old stuff to try and find answers. My one recommendation is, the new site has to work fully with Internet Explorer, I would always check whats NEW.
    I didn’t see this “NEW” item about the end, until I happened to use Firefox today.
    This kind of stuff does have a limited appeal though, your doing things I always wished I could/would do. But it seems when vacations come, there are just to many things to do.
    Well I will be waiting for the new site.
    Now if I can only get the time to look at everything on this site, should be easier if your not adding to it now.

  33. Thank-you explorer for this incrediable site that gave out a vast amount of info on copper,its industry,its people & all that are curious to explore the history of this copper country.Thanks for your time & effort that gave us a deeper knowledge & a great learning tool. Best wishes & success on your new Venture.

  34. Thanks to you all for such nice words – its all much appreciated. I’m trying to get the new sites template up and running as soon as possible. While the new site will broaden its scope considerably, there is still bound to be a great deal of “ruin stuff” featured as well.

    A major reason for the shift has to to with time as well. Explorer takes WAY to much of my time, more then it should. While I have managed to cut down lately, I was putting almost 40 hours a week into it – leaving only about 20 hours a week for my actual jobs. It’s important that I switch around that ratio in the next few months. This new vision should manage that.

    I’ll throw more details out when I got them figured out!

  35. Your website has been on my “short list” of places I visit nearly every day. The information you have provided is truly a treasure and has provided a link to the past that very few creative types (Internet sites and books come to mind) have captured in the past.

    I know that each post you have provided, especially those in Keweenaw County, has given me motivation to head out and explore further myself….with additional knowledge to boot!

    Thanks for all you have provided in the past and I’ll look forward to seeing what new ideas you have for the future!

  36. Very sorry to see this site go dormant. The info that you have posted is invaluable for those of us interested in the Copper Country. Since I live about 10 hours from Houghton I rely very heavy on sites like this one for info. Thank you for your efforts to date, and good luck with your future efforts.

  37. I am also sad to see this site end. It was a great resource and provided a link to an area that I miss so much. Keep up the great photography. The photos enhance the discussion so much. Good luck with the new site, and I’m definately looking forward to seeing it. As far as readership goes, I don’t think that the amount of people reading daily is an accurate gauge of how well the site is doing….I think the information presented and discussed here is going to be a resource for others for a long time. Everyday nature takes back a little more of what was once an empire in the Keweenaw. We all know it will be gone someday, but through the efforts of sites like this and many others, the stories that dominate the landscape can live forever.

  38. This site has been an incredible resource on the Copper Country. and to see it end deeply saddens me.

    However, knowing that it will live on in a new way make me feel better about it.

    Your vast knowledge has given my family and myself some exciting adventures in this incredible land that is The Copper Country.

    I truly appreciate the help that you have given me that allowed us to discover for ourselves the incredible history and wonder that the Copper Country has to offer.

    Your readers may not be a large group, but we are a loyal group. I am looking forward to the new site. I hope that it will be up and running soon.

  39. Thanks for the help guys.

    As far as that Browse section goes, I was purposely working for a random feel, but was going to create a more organized list at some later date. Just never got around to it.

    Those panoramics have become a new obsession of mine, and I’ve been experimenting with different ways of doing them. I think the new site will use those images much more heavily. Those have always been everyone’s favorite it seems. Don’t mess with the parts that work.

    Commenting and discussion will still be a major part. My problem with explorer was that I turned too much into a “lecturer” instead of an “explorer”. I started to know too much, which seems like a good thing on the surface. But I think it diminished the “explorer” feel that carried over the earlier posts.

    More thinking to do, thats for sure. Thanks to both of you for your readership all these years – always looked forward to your comments. Hope to see you come on over to the new site!

  40. I will miss learning something new about the Copper Country every I went to your sight. As Don said this sight has a limited, but loyal following. The comments section was always informative. Allowing people to add to the sight is a great feature.

    I feel that there will always be a limited audience for this subject. But this shows how, if it is used right, the Internet can be a great source of information for even a “few” people. Also this limited audience has much knowledge to be shared.
    Knowledge is useless unless it is shared with others.

    I look forward to seeing the new sight and what new information it will be available.

  41. Well… boo! This site has been a great resource and a lot of fun to read. It does play to a pretty narrow audience, but an audience which was glad to have a place to collect. But I’m glad you have something new in the works. I look forward to finding out what it is!

    A few specifics, although I don’t know if they will be helpful:

    If you do a “Browse”/”Explore” section in the future, please alphabetize or use *some* kind of sorting. It’s very hard to find things in the Explore section here.

    Keep up the photography. It’s very good (and I imagine that the panoramics could attract readers from elsewhere).

    Do include a comments section, if it applies to your new site. That was one of the most interesting ways to collect knowledge and expand what you wrote.

    More if I think of it…

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