Upon leaving Houghton to go north we crossed over the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and entered the town of Hancock, another neat little mining town. Just past Hancock climbing steep Quincy Hill we found the old Franklin Mine. This is a old copper mine owned by the Franklin Mining Co. which was organized in 1857. We stopped for a little walk to explore the old building and hardware from the mining days gone by. They give tours underground but we opted to tour above ground as we like the daylight over the darkness. Walking through the field of mining relics from the past I couldn't help but feel the hardships these folks must have endured mining in such cold, frigid winters.
Further north on M26/41 we drove drive trough another hardened mining town called Calumet, nicknamed Copper Town U.S.A., which was settled in 1864. We took a stroll through town and struck up a conversation with a very friendly parking meter patrol lady who told us a little about the town and its shops.We could tell this town was hustling and bustling during the boom days when more than half of the USA's copper came from here during the late 1800’s.Many of the storefronts displayed historical photos of the former townspeople.Sharon enjoyed browsing in the Mercantile store the meter lady recommended because it had an assortment of old candies, homemade fudge, Michigan cherry products and thimbleberry jams.
We also learned from a mid-town historical marker that a tragic event happened in Calumet in 1913 as it is the site of the “Italian Hall Disaster” The story is that striking miners and their families were gathered on Christmas Eve for a party in the Italian Hall, when someone screamed "fire" causing people to stampede which crushed or suffocated 73 victims, the majority of them children. The identity of the person(s) who started the stampede has never been determined. Folk singer Woody Guthrie's song, "1913 Massacre", is based on this event.
Continuing north we passed through many other smaller mining towns through some scenic countryside in the upper Keweenaw Peninsula. The rode goes no further north as we reached Copper Harbor a small town on the north end of the peninsula. Copper Harbor’s name comes from the time when it was the primary shipping port for all the copper mined from local area during the mid-19th century. It now appears to be mostly a recreational town for summer vacations and winter snowmobiling. It is also another place to catch a ferry to Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan. A scenic state park is here called Fort Picken’s State Park which has some nice hike and bike trails. We walked along one of them and found our first thimble berries so named as they look like thimbles once plucked from the bush. Related to blackberries but more fragile than even raspberries, these berries we found to be not very tasty as they were a bit tart and somewhat mealy. This may be why they primarily put them in jellies where sugar can sweeten them up. There is much more exploring to do of the beautiful Lake Superior and we are certainly glad we decided to visit Keweenaw Peninsula.
NOTE: There will be a part three here and yes we are a bit behind on the blog and are now near the town of Wakefield, Michigan.