Thursday, October 4, 2018

Keweenaw National Historic Park in Calumet, Michigan

After going to Isle Royale Visitor Center, I drove up to Calumet, Michigan and went to the Keweenaw National Historic Park.  Keweenaw is a peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where copper ore was mined in the early 1900s by many thousands of immigrants - Irish, Cornish, English, Germany, Europe (Finland, Slovenia, Italy), French Canada, China and Lebanon.  All the square helmets in the photo below is where copper was minted in the Keweenaw Peninsula and in the norther most point of Michigan in the  Upper Peninsula.
Copper ore origins date from 7,000 years ago to the 1900s.  Native Americans made copper tools and trade items, even carved plate books with histories and stories.  By the 1800s, during the great mineral rush, investors and immigrants came to develop thriving industries and communities for many years.  Today, Calumet is a sleepy little old town in dire need of revitalization, but the copper mining history here is in great abundance.

I went to the Calumet Keweenaw National Historic Park Visitor Center is part of two unites.  One is at the historic Union Building and enjoyed their very large exhibit area and movie they showed in the theater.  The building used to have shops inside and was once the Masonic Hall (3rd floor) for nearly 80 years.  It is across the street from St. Anne's Church and Community Church.  Much of the Keweenaw Peninsula is part of the Keweenaw Heritage Sites and St. Anne's Church is one of those locations.  The Keweenaw National Historic Park is just a few blocks from the visitor center as well as the Coppertown USA Mining Museum.
So, let's explore the visitor center first.  These photos mainly deal with copper in the area as well as the miners, their families and the mining business.  It was a hard great-grandfather, Bruce Lyman Riordan was a miner in Utah and died in an explosion there in 1906 so I know it was a tough way of life - not only for the miner, but also his family.
The 3rd floor was mainly showing the old Masonic Hall in use from the 1880s.
An interesting feature, I thought, was the booth with lots of photos of around the Keweenaw Peninsula.
From views of the 3rd floor you could look out over part of the town including the Community Church across the street from St. Anne's and also St. Anne's.
The downtown is old with only a couple of blocks of shops.  I did buy two copper mugs from Copper World.  They had quite a few nice coppers things in their shop.  Ironically, they do business with a Utah company with many of their items in the store.
There, you can see building in dire need to repair.  Much of the city was like this.
As I mentioned earlier, there were once many mines in the Keweenaw area.  Today, the Quincy Mine is the second unit of the National Park Service and so I drove there on my way out of town.  I had actually passed it going to Calumet and wanted to stop by on my way back to Houghton, so I was pleased to see it was part of the park unit.  The Quincy Mine gives underground mine tours, tram rides and has a museum.  I really wished I could have done all those things, especially go down in the mine but I only had time to explore a few of the buildings outside.
In 1843, one of the national first mineral rushes occurred here at Quincy Mine.  The mine contained many shaft houses, hoist houses, boiler house, steam engine, machine shop, blacksmith shop, dry house, water tower, etc. on the property each being built in different years.  There are remnants of many of these sites around the mine.
There is a small visitor center and gift shop is staffed only during the summer months and the site is a museum where you can do a self-tour or have tickets for the Full Tour (surface tour, tram ride and underground), Surface Tour only, or Surface Tour and Tram Ride.  Reservations must be made (another reason why I couldn't do it) and you get 20% off for groups of 12 or more.  AAA members does get you 10% off.  Children under 6 are free.  In the gift shop are copper gifts and jewelry as well as books.  For more info on the Quincy Mine, go to
I do love all things historic, so I really enjoyed seeing some of the ruins of the buildings.
What a fun morning to learn about more about Michigan and the copper country.  It was so much fun to see.  I wish I had more time.  We're learning that we need to stay longer in places so we can fully enjoy the areas.

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