Keweenaw Peninsula and Copper Island
After our visit to Stonington Peninsula on Lake Michigan, we headed into upper Michigan and the Keweenaw Peninsula, landing on Copper Island at Hancock. We found the ghost towns we were looking for in this area, and lots of great mining history! Here are just some of the photo's we took during our exploration. Hover over each for more information, or click a photo to go to gallery, which includes many more not in this photo blog. We will also be adding more photos of this area soon into the Keweenaw Peninsula Photo Gallery.
Kearsarge, MI - Rock Boat Veteran MemorialKearsarge was established as a copper mining town in 1867, and actively mined copper through 1925. Named after the 1861 war ship USS Kearsarge, the WPA built this rock memorial during the Great Depression. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Kearsarge, MI - Northland PastiesWe saw a lot of signs for 'Pasties' on our journey through this area of Michigan. Originating in England, Pasties are made by placing uncooked filling typically of meat and vegetables, on a flat pastry circle and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. After baking, the result is a raised semicircular taste of goodness. Wives of miners would make these to send with their husbands for lunch, wrapped in Newspaper. They were still warm at lunch break. Apparently they are still popular in this region, though we doubt they are making them here at this abandoned store in Kearsarge anymore.
Copper City, MI - Closed Meat MarketEstablished in 1907, Copper City continues to be home to around 200 residents, though it has seen it's better days. One of the earlier buildings, this old Meat Market, still stands testament to the lumber and railroad town's early years. (The original tracks have since been removed).
Ahmeek, MI - Business DistrictFounded in 1904, the town of Ahmeek grew around the Ahmeek Mining Company established the year before. Today it has less than 200 residents and it's main draw for tourism is nearby Sand Hills Lighthouse on Lake Superior.
Copper Island, MI - Sand Hills LighthouseSands Hills Lighthouse is the largest and last manned lighthouse built on the Great Lakes. Constructed in 1917, it was active until 1939. After it was automated, the grounds were used by the Coast Guard as a World War II training site for about 200 men. The property then sat vacant until a Government Auction in 1959. Today you can stay a night at this Bed and Breakfast or take a guided tour. The lighthouse is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Phoenix, MI - Bammert Blacksmith ShopOriginally built in the 1880's at the Cliff Mine nearby, this Blacksmith Shop once owned by Amos Bammert was moved to Phoenix around 1906. Amos operated the shop until his death in 1940. It was later donated to the Keweenaw County Historical Society and today serves as a road side museum.
Eagle River, MI - FallsJust down the road from Phoenix we came into Eagle River and made a stop at Eagle River Falls. With the backdrop of Lake Superior on the opposite side, this picturesque water fall dumps into a bowl of volcanic basalt before hitting the lake. During the Spring this water fall covers the most of the riverbed. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Eagle River, MI - Falls - 3The community of Eagle River was a copper mining boom town dating back to the 1840's. Copper was discovered in the cliffs nearby in 1845 (known as the "Cliff Load"), although the mines were on the decline by the 1870's.
Central Mine, MI - Powder HouseOne of the best stops for mining history in Keweenaw County is Central Mine, also known simply as Central. Once home to over 1,200 residents, it is the site of one of the counties most successful mines. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Central Mine, MI - Ruins2The Central Mine fissure was discovered in 1854 in an ancient Indian mining pit. A shaft was sunk along the side of the pit and over 40 tons of pure mass copper was removed in the first forty feet. The mine produced over 83 thousand pounds of copper that year and was the only mine in the history of the Michigan Copper Country to show a profit in the first year of operation.
Central Mine, MI - Shaft#2Tragedy would strike Central Mine in April of 1872 when a cable broke while 13 men were riding a skip car down the number 2 shaft. Ten of them were killed, a devastating event for the small community.
Fort Wilkins, MIEstablished to protect the regions Copper Boom, Fort Wilkins was built in 1844 at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Its location allowed the garrison to oversee the copper shipping route and police area Native Americans.
Copper Harbor, MI - Lake SuperiorCopper Harbor's early days were in the mining industry. As a port of shipping copper mined from local deposits during the mid 1800's, the area was settled sometime around 1844 (about the same time as adjacent Fort Wilkins).
Copper Harbor, MI - ShipWith copper mining playing out in the region by the 1870's, Copper Harbor today is a tourist destination on the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and includes a ferry that connects Isle Royale National Park to Northern Michigan.
Copper Island, MI - Lake Superior Rocky BeachCopper Island is the northern section of Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan. It hasn't always been an "island", but dredging in 1859, and the construction of the Keweenaw Waterway Canal in 1860 made it so. The highway along the northern edge coming from the tip of the peninsula provides some great views of Lake Superior and the rocky shoreline.
Saving our two favorites for last we found a lot of great picture opportunities and history in Calumet and, in Hancock, the Quincy Mine.
Calumet, MI - ChurchesWith copper mines booming in the region, the town of Red Jacket (now known as Calumet) was settled in 1864 and incorporated in 1867. Named for Native American Seneca tribe Chief Red Jacket, the town wouldn't officially change its name to Calumet until 1929. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Calumet, MI - 1903 St. Joseph ChurchSt. Paul the Apostle Church, formerly St. Joseph's Catholic Church, was formed in 1889 by Slovenian immigrants. They built this church in 1908 at a cost of $100,000. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Calumet, MI - Old DepotThe copper mines operated by Boston based Calumet and Helca Mining Company were rich, with the company producing more than half the country's copper from 1871 through 1880. In addition, the area supported dairy and farming operations. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Calumet, MI - Copper County Firefighters MuseumOn the National Register of Historic Places, this 1898 Fire Hall in Calumet now houses the Copper Country Firefighters History Museum. Built during the height of copper mining riches, it is constructed of Jacobsville sandstone quarried from the shore of Lake Superior 25 miles away. Firefighters used horses to pull the fire wagons into the 1930's, although a mechanized fire truck was available in the village in 1919.
Meanwhile, just outside of Hancock is the historic Quincy Mine Shaft No. 2 (We still have lots of pictures to add, but here's a taste and some history behind this one of kind operation).
Hancock, MI - Quincy Mine #2 Hoist HouseThe Quincy Mining Company, one of the commercially successful mines in the region, housed the worlds largest steam hoist at the No. 2 Mine shaft. The contraption in this photo was the only communication used to the other building where the mine cars were pulled up. An operator, usually someone trained in a generational capacity (Father, Son, etc), would use a series of dials and lights to know when to stop the hoist and when to start it. This operator was one of only a few positions that only worked eight hours a day, with the rest of the miners working twelve hour shifts.
Keywords: Calumet, Central Mine, Copper Harbor, Copper Mining, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River Falls, Fort Wilkins, Ghost Towns, Keweena Peninsula, Lighthouse, Quincy Mine
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