• The 300 Block (p2) – The Hall Building

    The 300 Block (p2) – The Hall Building

    For the longest time the 300 block of Houghton’s downtown was an architectural wasteland. Though large in statue the Germania Hotel was no triumph in design, and the remaining wood-framed struct...

  • Down by the Docks (p2) – The M. Van Orden Company

    Down by the Docks (p2) – The M. Van Orden Company

    Most people know it simply as “Chutes and Ladders”, a massive mountain of slides and stairways overlooking the Portage on Houghton’s west side. The park’s official name is Kest...

  • The 200 Block

    The 200 Block

    The second block of Houghton’s main thoroughfare is bordered by Quincy Street to the west and Pewabic on the East. The block’s early history was dominated by more industrious tenants such ...

  • A City Hall of Less Distinction

    A City Hall of Less Distinction

    With a full time population of over 8,000 people and another 5,000 part time college students, the city of Houghton is by far the Copper Country’s largest population center. It also happens to b...


“Most towns and villages across the Copper Country owe their existence to nearby copper mines. Houghton owes its to a man. Over a 150 years ago a merchant by the name of Ransom Sheldon laid claim to a patch of land along the shore of Portage Lake and built a small store to support his mining interests inland. Soon other buildings followed, and by 1861 the seed Sheldon had planted sprouted into the village of Houghton. Over the next century Houghton grew into an industrial and commercial powerhouse, becoming the center of activity in and around the region.”

From a Previous Life


Standing tall at the west end of Houghton’s main thoroughfare is a particularly handsome three story sandstone building etched with the words “smart zone” across its top. The building is an incubator space for the MTEC (Michigan Tech Enterprise Center) ... More »

Down by the Docks (p8)


The Carroll Foundry rests atop land partially created from the tailings of the Grand Portage Mill, which sat just to the west of it at the end of town. To the east of the foundry was located another mill, this ... More »

Down by the Docks (p7)


The Houghton waterfront of today looks far different then it did a century ago, as today the majority of the lakeshore is now home to green spaces – public parks, marinas, and trails. Traditionally, however,  the waterfront was primarily the ... More »

Down by the Docks (p5)


Before the arrival of the first swing bridge over the canal, the waterfront area along the 100 block of Houghton’s Shelden Ave was nothing more then a back alley. At that point almost all of the land seen above didn’t ... More »

A Ramp to Nowhere


The Copper Range depot was built at the far eastern end of its rail yards, just a short distance from Houghton’s downtown and the bridge to Hancock. While close the depot had a geographic  disadvantage – it was located at ... More »

The Legacy of James Dee


There was much money to be had in in the Copper Country at the end of the nineteenth century, especially for those enterprising souls that could take advantage of a region in its infancy eager to embrace the modern age. ... More »

St. Ignatius of Loyola


In a region where Calumet was home to no less then six separate Roman Catholic churches, it seems odd to discover that Houghton could only muster one such house of worship of its own. But that thinking is based on ... More »

Grace Methodist Church


The old wood-framed church that served Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was nothing more then a room with four walls and a roof, hardly a structure representative of the region’s premiere Methodist congregation – known as the “mother church”.  Thus plans ... More »

The Churches of Houghton


The great metropolises of the Copper Country were really limited to just two, each directly fueled by the region’s richest and most powerful mine companies. To the north the great C&H helped grow Red Jacket into the peninsulas most populous ... More »

The Revolution in the Valley


The Keweenaw Peninsula garnered its name from the native population who referred to the long finger of land as “Kee-wi-wai-non- ing”, roughly translated as the “place where portage is made”. Those early people would forgo traveling around the long finger ... More »

The Carnegie Library


Andrew Carnegie’s first experience with the industrial revolution occurred in his youth, back at his home in Scottland. His father – who was in the textile business – had been taken off guard by the mechanization of his industry and ... More »

Going Old School


The Michigan School of Mines was established at the dawn of the Copper Empire’s reign across the Keweenaw, born from the burgeoning demand for trained engineers and mining professionals. In the beginning the young school was limited to holding classes ... More »

Houghton County’s Courthouse


Houghton County was first established in 1845, comprising at the time of almost the entirety of the Keweenaw peninsula. The county’s first seat of government was established at the centralized located port town of Eagle River, which thanks to the ... More »

New Tricks for an Old Dog


The old Houghton Fire Hall has served many purposes in its life. Originally it was built to house the city’s volunteer fire department – Continental Fire Company No.1. Its second floor became home to the growing cities municipal offices, but ... More »

A City Hall of Less Distinction


With a full time population of over 8,000 people and another 5,000 part time college students, the city of Houghton is by far the Copper Country’s largest population center. It also happens to be the region’s commercial and industrial center, ... More »

Huron Creek Walls


The city of Houghton sits along a rocky ridge defined by the Pilgrim River valley to the east and the Huron Creek gorge to the west. While the ridge descends rather steadily towards the Pilgrim River, it drops more precariously ... More »

St. Ignatius School


By the end of the nineteenth century almost every Catholic church in the region had a complimenting parochial school. These schools – controlled and operated by the church – infused religious teachings with a standard grammar school lexicon. Usually limited ... More »