Sitting along the old DSS&A rail grade – now Houghton’s waterfront trail – is a large mural placed along the neighboring retaining wall. The mural consists of several panels that depict various scenes from the region’s past including the iconic images we all know and the more mundane happenings of daily life. I have no clue as to the aritist(s) or the reason for its existence but I thought I’d take some time to get a better look at them.
The first panel is of downtown Houghton, at the corner of Shelden and Isle Royale Streets. Of course the subject of the image is the Douglas House, one of the region’s more iconic buildings. (learn more about this historic hotel HERE). The cars would make me think we were looking at some point in the 20′s, but the lack of streetcar tracks makes me think 30′s or later.
The next panel is of the Osceola Depot, sitting along the Mineral Range line just south of Calumet. The depot, of course, no longer stands. Below is a small pane depicting farmers working the fields.
For some reason I forgot to take a shot of the third frame, but here’s the fourth. This is the Copper Range #29 locomotive, the last steam locomotive to operate in the Keweenaw. Originally part of Copper Range’s fleet, the loco was somehow spared scrapping during the line’s conversion to diesel. It would be reborn for use by the Keweenaw Central tourist line in the late 60′s. Today it is being restored once again for display at a Wisconsin railroad museum after being removed from the area several years back.
At first it seemed odd to me that the loco had a plow up front when the painting obviously takes place in the spring or summer. But considering all photos of the #29 I have been able to find also have that plow up front I suppose that’s just the way it was configured.
This is an odd frame, but another iconic one none-the-less. It depicts what looks to be Quincy No.6, drawn soon after its rock-house was renovated and expanded. I find it interesting that a mine rescue team is shown down in the lower right – complete with what appears to be a dead worker in the stretcher. This part of the painting looks to be based on an old postcard taken at the Tamarack Mine, also featuring the same rescue workers wearing gas masks.
This panel showcases typical home life for many Copper Country families, both upper and lower class. The top three frames are of typical worker homes, with the picket fence and bike of the lowest frame being more representative of the upper or middle class. I love the lighting effects in the cabin kitchen frame. Great work.
Of course no Copper Country history mural can be complete without a depiction of the 1913 strike. This panel uses a montage of images taken from various old photos I’ve seen over the years – most taken during union marches. There is also the standard national guard encampment scene as well.
The mural is a nice addition to the waterfront, and adds a bit of culture to Bridgeview Park. It’s unfortunate that some bored teen decided to paint his “gang” tag on top of one of the panels – Houghton’s best and brightest on display. Of course, it might have been prudent for the city to protect the murals with a plexiglass cover so any graffiti could easily be cleaned off. Maybe next time…