South Range

“Rising high above the southern range is one of the tallest peaks along the peninsula – 1500 foot Wheal Kate mountain. Its ominous presence just south of the Portage Valley prompted many to ponder if it was made from solid copper – copper which resisted the great glaciers that had carved out the valley and the lake basin beyond. On this hunch alone, optimistic prospectors bought up the mountain and began sinking shafts into it to find it’s juicy copper center. In the process the mine company platted out the nearby town of South Range. The mine quickly failed but the town somehow managed to survive. It wasn’t until the arrival of the Copper Range almost a generation later that the town finally thrived. With the railroad running right through the center of town and the presence of several mines in the vicinity (including the Baltic right next door), South Range’s commercial district exploded. Its good fortune lasted as long as the mines that supported it, which finally came to an end in the 1960′s with the closure of the last operating mine along the South Range – the Champion. When the mine closed, the railroad was torn up and abandoned.”

Downtown South Range


While mines flourished and cities bloomed along the Keweenaw from Houghton to Copper Harbor, the great mineral lands to the south were relatively ignored. It wouldn’t be till near the end of the nineteenth century that any serious attempts at ... More »