Chassell

As the copper empire began to grow, so too did its demand for lumber. By the 1870s the booming mines and and burgeoning towns across the peninsula were requiring large amounts of lumber to grow, with the Calumet and Hecla mines alone utilizing nearly 3 million feet board feet of the resource each year. While some mines ended up building their own sawmills to supply these needs, a slew of independent mills took root in the region to meet the demand as well. One of the earliest of these was the Sturgeon River Lumber Company, which in 1872 had acquired rights to large swaths of land along the Sturgeon River valley from which to harvest their timber. A year later the company would erect its first sawmill along the shore of Portage Lake just west of Hancock, utilizing logs floated down the Sturgeon and delivered up the Portage.

As the empire grew demand increased substantially and the Sturgeon River company expanded its river operations to increase supply. Towards that end it formed a subsidiary company known as the Sturgeon River Boom Company, which in 1875 built an elaborate system at the river’s mouth to capture and divert logs to adjacent Pike Bay for storage. The system involved a series of booms blocking the river’s outlet, and a 1300 foot man-made canal cut though the delta to divert logs from the river mouth to the bay. Five years later the company expanded yet again, this time purchasing a large swath of land along its Pike Bay storage pond to erect a newer and larger mill complex. Along with the mill the company also erected a small townsite first known as Pike Bay and later as Robinson, named after one of the company’s founders. With the arrival of an official Post Office the town had to change its name once again – as there already existed a Robinson downstate. In the end the community would be named after the first owner of the land on which it was built – a French farmer by the name of John Chassell.

The Town that Lumber Built (p2)

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Chassell was a town built by a single industry, much like most of the communities born in the Copper Country. Yet the industry from which the small town on Pike Bay was born – lumber – was a far cry from the empire which seeded the rest of the Keweenaw’s …

The Town That Lumber Built (p1)

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As the copper empire began to grow, so too did its demand for lumber. By the 1870s the booming mines and and burgeoning towns across the peninsula  were requiring large amounts of lumber to grow, with the Calumet and Hecla mines alone utilizing nearly 3 million feet board feet of …

Chassell State Bank

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The small town of Chassell was put on the map by the Sturgeon River Lumber Company, who built a large lumber operation on Pike Bay in 1888. For over a decade the company would harvest the plethora of pines in the region, floating them down the Sturgeon River (hence the …

Trunkline Bridge No.8

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Though existing for some time prior, the automobile could never gain popular support until there was a network of good roads on which those early machines could safely travel. The state of Michigan would supply those roads starting in 1913, when the State Trunk Line Act was passed. The act …

An Old Church

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The passage of time has eroded away a great deal of the Copper Country’s heritage. While the sprawling infrastructure of the great Copper Empire may take up most of our time here on CCE, there has been much more allowed to vanish into history as time marched on. Most notable …

The Hiawatha

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Though blank today, this worn and forgotten sign was once emblazon with a large Indian Chief’s head and the words “Hiawatha Drive In Theatre”. Located just south of Chassell along US41, the Hiawatha Drive In was one of only two such theaters in the copper country (the other being the …