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Copper Country Heritage Guide - Browse

By the turn of the century over 100,000 people had arrived to the Copper Country in hopes to find work in any one of the dozens of mines that had cropped up across the peninsula's rugged and wild landscape. Before long the vast wilderness those mines had originally encountered had been replaced by a more civilized world. Modern cities adorned with impressive sandstone buildings, soaring cathedrals and grand Victorian homes grew up in the shadow of massive stone mining buildings and towering concrete smokestacks. Along shore a large assortment of light houses guided ships into bustling ports lined with sprawling wharfs while miles of railroads connected the region's mines and communities to the rest of the world. For nearly a century the Copper Country prospered until falling copper prices forced mine after mine to close its doors for good. Soon a mass exodus of residents followed, as unemployed workers moved southward in search of work. Towns were abandoned, churches shuttered, and buildings vacated. The sprawling railroads were torn up and sold for scrap while massive mine buildings were pillaged for their equipment and left to ruin.

While only a fraction of its once bustling population remains, evidence of the Copper Country's more illustrious past can still be found scattered throughout the peninsula's lush and rugged landscape. Deep within the forests stand the massive stone walls from an abandoned mine building, while soaring smoke stacks rise up out of the canopy high above. Small towns and villages are sprinkled with ornate sandstone buildings and beautiful gothic inspired churches that look more at home in medieval Europe. And along shore old lighthouses continue to send their signals out over the big lake while an assortment of peaceful cemeteries pay tribute to those that once lived here.

Cemeteries

As the population of mining locations grew companies were forced to set aside plots of land on which to bury the dead, burial grounds that a hundred years later continue to illustrate the harsh realities of a Keweenaw existence.

Churches

The ethnic and religious diversity of the Copper Country's residents prompted the establishment of an equally diverse collection of churches - most of which mimicked the grandiose gothic and romanesque attributes of their old world siblings.

Historic Bridges

The Keweenaw is home to some rather old and unique bridges, including many built just after the turn of the century or during the Great Depression as WPA projects.

Historic Buildings

As the Keweenaw's mines prospered so too did the commercial districts of neighboring communities, resulting in the erection of several large and architecturally impressive business blocks that exemplified the grandiose attitudes of the Victorian age.

Historic Homes

Once the Keweenaw was home to over 100,000 people, resulting in a great surplus of homes of all types and classes including more then a few grand old Victorians.

Industrial Ruins

In addition to the mines and mills found throughout the Keweenaw, the peninsula also supported a large variety of other industries that have also left their mark on the landscape.

Lighthouses

Nearly a half dozen light houses can be found at the entrances of the Keweenaw's waterways and harbors,including one of the oldest lights built on Lake Superior.

Mill Ruins

To process the copper rock brought up from the underground, mines built themselves expansive mill complexes along the shores of inland lakes and Lake Superior itself, leaving behind sprawling tailing deposits and more then a few ruins.

Mine Ruins

Though the Keweenaw's copper industry no longer exists, the remains of its once impressive empire can still be found along roads and lakes all across the peninsula.

Monuments

These markers and memorials honor the people who helped build and shape the Copper Country into what it is today.

Old Dams

With both mine and mill requiring great amounts of water for their boilers and stamps, the Keweenaw is littered with a collection of old dams and impoundments - some still in use today - that created the necessary reservoirs to supply that water.

Old School Buildings

With mining communities scattered all across the peninsula, the Keweenaw became home to an impressive array of schools from the lonely one room schoolhouse all the way up to the grand brick and sandstone monuments of higher education.

Railroad Ruins

While the majority of the Keweenaw's once vast network of railways have been converted into trails, a few glimpses of its more illustrious history can still be found scattered about the peninsula.