Locations

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    Oak Street 400

    map courtesy Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division Oak Street runs for 16 blocks, starting…

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    A Closer Look at Pewabic and Third

    One of the more unique houses on our list of Laurium’s rich and famous is this interesting bui…

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    Showing Its Religious Roots

    It’s most recently known as the E-Center, home to the now defunct Little Gem Theater. Before t…

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    The 400 Block (p3)

    Before leaving the 400 block for good there’s one last building that warrants mention, the Leo…

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    Through Colored Glass

    Tonight the Keweenaw Heritage Center will have its opening night reception, featuring yours truly as…

It was along the rocky Superior shore at Copper Harbor that large outcroppings of copper would begin the great Keweenaw copper rush around 1844. The first shafts ever sunk along the peninsula would be along Hay’s Point – the craggy finger of land jutting out along the harbor’s entrance. The search for copper pushed southward, and with it the commerce and activity that Copper Harbor once knew. The migrating copper rush’s first stop was along the towering rocky precipices that made up the peninsula’s Cliff Range. It was along these cliffs that the region’s first profits were made – more than five years after the copper rush first began.

With the region’s first profits came a renewed optimism and copper fever. Several more mines were established nearby, and prospectors turned southward in search of the copper riches they now knew were there for the taking. This search resulted in the discovery of the Calumet Conglomerate Lode and the rise of the region’s largest and most profitable mine – the great Calumet & Hecla. In its shadow many other successful mines followed, their inexhaustible thirst for workers prompting the establishment of various worker communities such as Osceola, Tamarack, and Centennial. Together these scattering of towns and mining locations would create a sprawling metropolis of over 30,000 people.

As mines pushed southward, new ports had to be established to deliver the men and supplies these fledging enterprises required. The towns of Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Lac La Belle were all born from this need, serving the new crop of mines that had opened up along the peninsula’s rocky spine. The burgeoning central range of the Keweenaw required a convenient deep water port of their own, turning to the primitive waterway along the Portage Valley to serve their needs. By the end of the century this new transportation corridor would help the Portage Valley become the commercial and transportation hub for the entire peninsula – creating the cities of Houghton and Hancock in the process. Besides ports, these mines also required mills to work their copper spoils. The companies turned to the Lake Superior Shore and the deep waters of Torch Lake to provide the necessary water and tailings reservoir these mills needed. Serving these mills were even more towns, small communities built in the shadow of the mill’s they served along the peninsula’s outskirts and Torch Lake’s western shore.

Lakeview and its Brewery

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As the Copper Country reached the end of the 19th century, the booming village of Red Jacket and its surrounding communities had begun to reach their limits of expansion. Surrounding on all sides by mine property off limits to development, any new businesses or residents hoping to make the mining village …

The Mystery Stone Buildings of Mohawk

Mohawk Stone Buildings

Perhaps one of the Keweenaw’s more impressive sights are the stone buildings scattered across its cities and old mining locations. These artisticly crafted masonry masterpieces are beautiful to behold, and even in ruin gleam with a majesty and awe reminiscent of the great castles and cathedrals of the old world. While some of these grand …

The Lands of the Phoenix (p2)

Lands of the Phoenix Part Two

As with most Keweenaw mining towns, the community of Phoenix along the Cliff Range ebbed and flowed along with the fortunes of the copper mines at its doorstep. The town’s overseers – the Phoenix Mining Company – toiled away at its trio of mines on and off for nearly forty years until …

The Lands of the Phoenix (p1)

Phoenix of Old

The Eagle River is one of the Keweenaw’s longest natural waterways, running over 10 miles from its marshy headwaters deep inside the peninsula’s interior to its Lake Superior outlet along the sand dunes of the identically named town of Eagle River. While unremarkable for most of its length, it grandeur …

Vaughnville and Robbins

Vaughnville

The Cliff Range is perhaps most famously associated with the Cliff Mine, but the rugged precipice was home to more then just one Copper Empire settlement. The same copper bearing rocks which brought the Cliff to the scene attracted other people looking for riches of their own, and after the …

In Honor of Verna

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It almost seems like an afterthought – a last minute addition crammed into the landscape wherever it could fit. For most its passed by without even notice, a small largely unmarked sliver of green space tucked up against the highway. Only a small hardly noticeable sign marks its existence – …

DHH

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By the time the dark cloud of the Depression descended upon the Copper Country the Michigan College of Mines had grown out of its diminutive first home on the top floor of Houghton’s fire hall and moved into an expansive campus of a half dozen beautiful masonry structures at the east end of …

At the End of the Line

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It was 1864 when the Mandan Mine took its first baby steps into the world. The mine took up residence along a marshy stretch of land past Delaware, hoping to strike it rich along a narrow fissure lode. Along with the mine came a collection of worker housing built atop higher ground to the …

The County Seat

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Before the rise of the great C&H and the sprawling metropolis of Red Jacket it spawned – the heart and soul of the Copper Country was located a bit farther to the north – in and around a small port town situated at the mouth of the Eagle River. Known as …

Ye Ole’ Swimmin Hole

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As the old Copper Empire’s power and prestige began to wain in the 30s, a great deal of investment was made in securing a future for the Copper Country not reliant on its copper riches for its survival. Towards that end a great deal of new parks, attractions, and scenic …

The C&H Bathhouse

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It’s a rather unassuming structure, the squat brick building found at the corner of the US41 / M26 junction in Laurium. Things aren’t helped by the fact that its facade is largely blocked by several bushy trees along its front – providing a natural camouflage that shields the shy building from prying …

More Than Just a Pretty Face

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Bete Grise Bay easily provides one of the most awe-inspiring vistas of all the Copper Country – its calm blue waters framed perfectly by the lush green bluffs of the Bohemian Range as it tumbles into the distance. The bay also features one of the longest and most pristine white sand …

Best Laid Plans of Mines and Men

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Nestled within a large crook about two-thirds the way up the Keweenaw peninsula sits a large protected cove of Lake Superior known as Bete Grise Bay.  The wide bay is sheltered along its wayward side by the rugged hills of the peninsula’s tip – anchored by the soaring peak of …

It Stands Alone

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At the Copper Empire’s peak the greater Red Jacket area was home to some 30,000 people – an expansive population that required a great deal of public infrastructure to support. A large portion of that infrastructure dealt with education, as over 5,000 of the region’s residents were of school age. It was a …

Jacob’s Temple

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Jacob Gartner was one of Hancock’s most prolific businessman, first arriving to the bustling mining town in the early 1880s. He and his 14 year old son got straight to work selling door-to-door as a street peddler. It was a vocation that Mr. Gartner proved highly skilled at, aided greatly by his ability to …

A Highway Location

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It was in 1861 that the state of Michigan authorized the appropriation of swamp lands to Houghton and Keweenaw Counties  for the construction of a “Mineral Range State Road” – a publicly built wagon road connecting mines and mine towns up and down the Keweenaw from Copper Harbor to Houghton. The road became …

A Tour of the Red Jacket Fire Hall (p2)

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While the first floor of the Red Jacket Fire Station may have been dedicated to the tools of the trade – vehicles and the horses which pulled them – the upper floor was designed for human occupation. For a full time firefighting force like the one Red Jacket employed, this …

A Tour of the Red Jacket Fire Hall (p1)

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Before it was known as Calumet, the small commercial settlement bordering the Calumet and Hecla Mines was known as Red Jacket. Back then it was just a ramshackle collection of wood framed buildings, haphazardly aligned along a series of primitive dirt streets surrounded by cow pastures. In 1870 a small brush fire …

The Hand-Powered Pumper

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In colonial times fire fighting was nothing more technologically advanced as a collection of buckets and a crowd of men. Known as a  “bucket brigade” these men would simply pass buckets full of water between themselves from a water source to the fire, dousing flames one bucket at a time.  It was …

An American LaFrance in Calumet

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In 1873 a man by the name of Truckson LaFrance founded the LaFrance Manufacturing company, which primarily built hand-powered fire fighting equipment. With the popularity of steam-powered equipment rising, LaFrance expanded its operations into the new field and began building steam powered engines of its own. In 1903 the company merged with the …

The U.S.S. Kearsarge

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The first Kearsarge was built in 1861 and took the form of a sloop-of-war, a three masted wooden warship carrying up to eighteen canons. It served in the American Civil war as a confederate hunter – cruising European waters in search of confederate ships.  The second Kearsarge was a industrial era …

The East Hancock Stairway

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For most visitors to Hancock the first thing that welcomes them after crossing the bridge is a steep hillside lined by a long concrete retaining wall adorned with “Welcome to the City of Hancock” in big white letters. This wasn’t always the case, however, as most visitors to the city for most of …

Downtown Mohawk (p3)

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Mohawk was a town born to house a mines workers and their families, a designed community administered by the Mohawk Mine sitting just outside its door. Most of these homes were built in identical fashion, looking like a 50s era suburban neighborhood full of cookie cutter houses equally spaced along a …

Downtown Mohawk (p2)

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Thanks to the influence of the Mohawk Mine, its neighboring community never developed an incredibly rich and diverse commercial presence. Most needs were met by the Pertermann Store, a company approved and regulated institution. What the town may have been lacking commercially, however, it easily made up for culturally. A one …

Downtown Mohawk (p1)

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When the Mohawk Mine first arrived to the scene in 1898 it found itself a half dozen miles away from the nearest commercial offerings, a problem for its workers living within the confines of the newly established mining location.  To provide for the daily commercial and social needs of those workers, …