Minding the Gap

The rugged spine of the Keweenaw extends for several hundred miles from the peninsula’s northern most tip all the way down to the Porcupine Mountains in the south. These high rocky precipices do not lie as one long unbroken line, however, as there are many breaks and gaps in its length. One of the most famous is the break through which Portage Lake resides, a natural opening first used by the native peoples to quickly cross the peninsula by canoe but was later transformed by industry into a man-made water passage for freighters.

Another gap of note lies between the towns of Kearsarge and Mohawk, a wide swampy valley known as the Allouez Gap in reference to the small mining community which sits within its breadth. The natural break in the peninsula’s spine here is bookended by the high Calumet plateau to the south and the rise of the sheer rocky cliffs of the Cliff Range to the north. To the east the Black Creek empties those swamps into Lake Superior while to the east the those swamps and lowlands make their way eventually in the Traprock River.

The entire valley is most impressively viewed from atop the towering poor rock piles of the North Kearsarge Mine – which have been piled up high on the southern rim of the valley. I’ve been to the top of these piles many times, the the sweeping view out across the gap is one of the peninsula’s most impressive – made even more grand by the fact that not many people take the climb to their tops of the view. Its definitely worth the view – especially on days when the morning fog settles down in the valley floor or when the setting sun illuminates the cliff range in the far distance.

Michael Forgrave

CCE is written, photographed and illustrated by Mike Forgrave. After having graduated from Michigan Tech, Mike spent 16 years in the Copper Country exploring the remains of the great industrial empire that was. In 2007 he began to document those explorations through the pages of CCE, hoping to share the beauty and majesty of the region to the rest of the world. Since then Mike has written over 1300 articles and a dozen books on the subject, creating one of the largest on-line resources for Copper Country history in the process.
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