Houghton

“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.”

The Legacy of James Dee

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 »

Terraced Gardens

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If you take a stroll along East Lakeshore Drive in Houghton in the area once occupied by the Carroll Foundry, you’ll find a line of old houses along with this interesting stone structure. Not so much a structure as a ... More »

The Power House

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The Copper Country’s reputation as a modern metropolis in contrast to a typical mining camp was strengthened by it’s early apportion of many civilized contrivances such as the telegraph, the street car, and the theater. Perhaps most important of all ... More »

Gotham (p2)

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The landscape that exists under the rusting steel of Houghton’s parking deck seems to be from another time and place – a place devoid of sunlight and vacated by man. Occasionally you see a car driving through, but for the ... More »

Gotham (p1)

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In the beginning Houghton’s waterfront was dominated by warehouses and rail yards, prompting the establishment of the city’s main business avenue several hundred feet up the hill. When the surrounding mines began to shut their doors and the region’s economy ... More »

Murals

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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 ... More »

The Shop

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When I first stepped off the ship to arrive in the new world that would become my home, the city of Houghton looked a bit different then it did today. The most discernible difference laid along Lake Shore Drive, between ... More »

The Masonic Temple

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As we make our way up Houghton’s main commercial street we find one last architectural gem of significance to explore – that belonging to the city’s massive Masonic Temple. Built in 1910, this was a rather late addition to the ... More »

The 600 Block (p2)

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Making our way back from the massive bank building anchoring the 600 block we come across the second brick business block to have been built along this stretch of Shelden, visible to the right in the photo above. I don’t ... More »

Downtown Houghton of Old

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A short break from our downtown Houghton tour to take a look back at what it once looked like, thanks to those hi-res images courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Maps division. The shot above looks down Shelden to ... More »

The 600 Block (p1)

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While the neighboring 500 block’s claim to fame was its upscale Douglass House hotel, the 600 block’s iconic status would be sealed by the arrival of Houghton’s first stone business block, erected at the corner of Isle Royale and Shelden ... More »

The Douglass House

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Houghton’s commercial district began with the establishment of two hotels – the Houghton and the Douglass – both named Douglass Houghton. But that’s where the similarities ended, as the two businesses catered to a completely different types of clientele. While ... More »

The Shelden-Dee Block

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Thanks to the adjacent Douglass House, the corner of Shelden and Isle Royale became Houghton’s de-facto commercial center. Here the city’s most influential and important residents erected grand monuments to the Copper Country’s commercial aspirations, and established the city’s grand ... More »