Locations

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    The Michigan College of Mines (p2)

    As the century turned and the Victorian age reached its twilight years, the Copper Country experienc…

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    Ye Ole’ Swimmin Hole

    As the old Copper Empire’s power and prestige began to wain in the 30s, a great deal of invest…

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    The Albion Rock

    the location of the legendary Albion Rock? If Copper Country explorers like myself can be likened to…

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    The Wright School

    The hillside on which the village of Hancock was platted was injurious  to its growth and expansion …

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    The Mining Camp (p1)

    For decades the great Copper Rush stayed clear of the rugged hills lying just south of the Portage V…

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.

Downtown Hancock (p1)

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The Copper Empire hit its peak in the early 1910s, a time when employment and opportunity was at its greatest fervor in the region. This was a time before the great strike of 1913 would put a knife into the empire’s side and far before the Great Depression would stick a …

The Wright Block and Gartner’s Department Store

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The First National Bank building at the corner of Quincy and Reservation was not the first home of the financial institution, as it had already been operating in Hancock since nearly the village’s conception. Back then one of the bank’s tellers was an American by the name of Charles Augustus …

At the Crossroads

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Hancock’s precarious perch along the steep slopes of Quincy Hill greatly constrained the young village’s original platt. As such the only suitable space for building existed along a very narrow plateau sandwiched between a rugged cliff along the lakeshore and a increasingly steep topography to the north. It was a space that …

The Scott Hotel

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In 1906 the Copper Country was all grown up. As the new century dawned what was once nothing more then a frontier mining camp had matured into a modern metropolitan region and home to the state’s third largest population cluster. Along with its rise to prominence came a equally strong regional …

The Quincy Ravine

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The land on which the city of Hancock currently stands was once all owned by a young Quincy Mining Company, who first came to the Portage valley around 1846. The mine’s early attempt to find copper were not entirely successful and its original pursuits along the hillside near the campus of present …

Superior City

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After some absence, CCE’s reporter on the spot Craig Aldinger returns for another back woods exploring adventure. This time he takes a trek to find the old mining community of Superior City – a platt of land once serving the short lived Superior Mine.  This only took me forever and …

The Mansions of College Ave

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Unlike its neighbor across the pond, Houghton’s origins were not tied directly to any mine company. It was instead born from private interests, hoping to take advantage of the mining industry and the related industries that were developing within the Portage Valley in the mid 1850s. That didn’t mean that the …

The Lost Temple of Tezcuco

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The Acolhua people were one of the three “city-states” to once control the Valley of Mexico – the highland plateau in central Mexico where current day Mexico City is located. The Acolhuan people were advanced both cultural and technologically, living in piece with their neighbors to form what we know …

A Copper Country Time Machine

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Tom Roberts was born and raised in Battle Creek, yet his heart was always in the Copper Country. His family was from Hancock and his grandmother lived in her family home on Lake Street overlooking the Portage. He would visit his grandmother often, and when he did he was sure …

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)

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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)

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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

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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 …