Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

Way back, when Hector was a pup, our youngest son attended Michigan Technical Institute in Houghton, Michigan which is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula.  The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northern-most part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula which projects out into Lake Superior. 

We would stay at the City of Houghton RV Park that provides 22 paved sites with water, 50 amp electric service, sewer connection, cable TV, Wi-Fi, a covered patio with picnic table, park bench, BBQ grill, and fire ring at each site.  All of this for around $25 a night today.

As you all know from our outings around Tallulah Gorge, we enjoy waterfalls.  There are over a hundred waterfalls in Keweenaw County with most of them unnamed.  Also, most of them are “located off the beaten path” which would require a trudge through the woods on unmarked trails just to find them.  This was before GPS and Geocaching, however, we had a guide book that provided directions.  Here are some pictures of a few waterfalls that are located in the southeastern corner of the peninsula near Hubbell, Michigan.

A No Named FallsAnother No Named FallsAnd Another And Still AnotherLac Le Belle Falls

The peninsula was known for it’s copper having been one of premier producers in the United States.  Here is what our good friend Norm Payne wrote in his travelog:  “Copper was discovered in the area known as the Keweenaw Peninsula in the 1840's and it soon was settled by Germans, Irishmen, Cornishmen and Finnish who worked the mines. Copper mining has virtually closed but there are remnants of mines everywhere and several are open for tours. The Delaware Mine opened in 1847 and shafts reached a depth of 1,400 feet but tours only go 110 feet below the surface. The Quincy Mine, the largest in the area, offers underground tours to one-half mile underground in addition to many relics above ground. About two dozen other abandoned mines and smelters are available for viewing and picture taking.

For those not wanting to enter a mine there are many museums displaying mining equipment and explaining the copper industry in the Keweenaw Peninsula. There is the Houghton County Historical Museum, the Coppertown USA Mining Museum, the Copper Range Historical Museum, the Michigan Tech Seaman Museum and several others.”Norm Payne, See Ya Down The Road, June 2005

Judy and I don’t particularly enjoy going below ground so we never bothered to take any of the tours, however, we have been told by those who have that they are very good tours.  

Abandon Mine Administration Building

We stopped by the Gay Bar which is more than just a bar; it’s really a grill that serves very tasty sandwiches.  Gay, Michigan was named after its founder, Joseph E. Gay.  The Mohawk Mining Company built a stamp mill in the town and the mill’s old office building has been transformed into the Gay Bar.

The Gay Bar, Gay, Michigan 

Fort Wilkins is located at the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula along the shores of Lake Superior.  It was built in 1844 to protect Michigan’s copper industry, however, it was abandoned after only two years.  It was manned again in the late 1860’s for a short time.  Today a couple dozen well-preserved buildings remain at the military post which is now a state park.

Entering Fort Wilkins Fort Wilkins Quadrangle At Fort Wilkins

Brockway Mountain Drive is a nine mile scenic highway that runs along the ridge of the Brockway Mountain.  There are many turnouts along the route that allow for gorgeous views of Copper Harbor, Lake Superior, Lake Fanny Hooe, as well as scenic mountain overlooks.  Being that we visited the area in the early spring, the pictures are not quite a pretty as they would be in the summer and/or fall.

Copper Harbor Copper HarborCopper Harbor Lighthouse - Zoomed In Lake Fanny Hooe - Zoomed In

With its rugged shoreline the drive along the western shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula reminds me of the waterfront in Maine.  For those who love visiting lighthouses, the Peninsula is a delight with thirteen lighthouses; another Maine likeness, now all we need is that salt water smell in the air and a few sea gulls squawking in the background.

Along The Western Shoreline Of The Keweenaw Peninsula Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

We spent some time in the little town of Copper Harbor which has a nice little restaurant and gift shop, however, failed to take any pictures.  Rich and Diane Emond recommend the Copper Haus Restaurant that has German cooking with beautiful views of Copper Harbor and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse.  We’ve not dined there but Norm and Linda Payne will attest to that recommendation.

One last note of interest, U.S. Route 41, which runs from Miami, Florida, has its northern terminus just east of Copper Harbor at a cul-de-sac near Fort Wilkins.  (Picture by Norm Payne)  

Route 41 Northern Terminus

Hope you have enjoyed this little diversion from our current laid back lifestyle.  We’ll be on the road again this coming Sunday with a visit to our good cyber friend Jenny and her husband in Mountain City, Tennessee. 

Until tomorrow . . . . .

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