Skip to main content

Great Lakes Road Trip Day 5 Part 3; Exploring Michigan Copper County in Houghton, Hancock, the Quincy Mine and Calumet

I arrived in Houghton just as the solar eclipse was hitting.  I was way too far north to get much of a shadow so I made my way to the visitor center of Isle Royale National Park on Lake Shore Drive to pick up a couple park maps.






US 41 has an interesting alignment through downtown Houghton with the northbound lanes running on Shelden Avenue and the southbound lanes on Montezuma Avenue.






Most people were interested in looking at the eclipse I was more interested in the old buildings and the Keweenaw Waterway Lift Bridge.  Houghton is the county seat of Houghton County and is by far the largest city in the general area of the Keweenaw Peninsula at about 8,000 residents.  The city was likely settled in the 1850s and grew in importance as port once the Keweenaw Waterway was dredged by the 1870s from a smaller river.  Much of the buildings in use today date from the early 20th century and have a classic "mine town" feel to them.

The copper boom in the Upper Peninsula (I should note it wasn't exclusive to just the Keweenaw Peninsula but primarily was located there) in 1845 and the industry was in operation on a large scale until the late 1960s.  Being the location of an early mining boom the Keweenaw Peninsula has a large assortment of almost abandoned cities scattered throughout,.  The mining decline started in the 1910s following large scale work strikes in 1913 to 1914.  Having lived in the west coast for so long I really found the place to be interesting to explore.

Houghton in particular suffered similar declines like the other mining towns in the area.  The city only lost one third of the population after the 1910s but has grown substantially since given Michigan Tech is located in the city which has become the primary source of employment.  The current Portage Lake Lift Bridge over the Keweenaw Waterway was completed in 1959.  The current bridge actually has a deck dedicated to rail service which has long been discontinued.  






US 41 and M-26 meet on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.  In the city of Hancock the routes split with US 41 traveling through downtown westward while M-26 continues in an eastern direction.





Hancock dates back to 1846 and once had a population close to 9,000 by 1910.  The city now has roughly half of it's peak population and essentially is now a suburb of Houghton.  US 41 splits in downtown with the northbound lanes running on first Reservation Street and then Quincy Street.  The southbound lanes of US 41 run on on Hancock Street.  Both lanes of travel converge past downtown on Lincoln Drive and ascend the cliffs to the Quincy Mine.









Above Hancock on US 41 is the remains the Quincy Mine.   The Quincy Mine was in operation from 1846 to 1945 to the end of World War II but initially was shuttered in the early 1930s.  Apparently the shaft of the Quincy Mine was deepest in the world at about 9,300 feet in depth upon closure in 1945.  The National Park Service now maintains the Quincy Mine property as part of the Keweenah National Historic Park.  Some of the remaining structures include the; Quincy Mine Hoist House, Number 2 Shaft Rock House, and many other older structures from the early history of the mine.




  
The final stop of the day was up at the village of Calumet which essentially is a ruin a small city.  Calumet was founded in 1864 as Red Jacket.  Calumet was incorporated late in the 1860s but did assume the modern name until the 1890s and was not legally changed until 1929.  Calumet was the location of the Calumet and Helca Mining Company which was once one of the largest producers of copper in the country.  Calumet peaked out at about 4,700 residents but began a quick decline after the 1913-1914 copper mine work strikes.  Calumet has about 700 residents today according to recent census figures and the village or rather city-scape is largely one of abandonment.  I walked 5th Street and the surround roadways checking out the crumbling buildings before heading back to Houghton for the night.













Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 190; a Trans-Sierra Highway that could have been

This past week I decided to take a small scale road trip on California State Route 190 from CA 99 east to the unbuilt section over the Sierra Nevada Range.  While I was in for what turned out to be a fun drive following the course of the Tule River watershed what I found researching the back story of CA 190 was one of the most complex and unusual stories of any California State Highway.  Given that I had a ton of older photos of the eastern segment of CA 190 in the Mojave Desert of Inyo County I thought it was time to put something together for the entire route. The simplified story of CA 190 is that it is a 231 mile state highway that has a 43 mile unbuilt gap in the Sierra Nevada Range.  CA 190 is an east/west State Highway running from CA 99 in Tulare County at Tipton east to CA 127 located in Death Valley Junction near the Nevada State Line in rural Inyo County.  The routing CA 190 was adopted into the State Highway system as Legislative Route 127 which was adopted in 1933 acc

I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates, Year in Review 2022

Another year over, already? 2022 turned out to be quite the year if you are a fan of new interstate routes, and it wasn't bad for some long standing favorites. As per the tradition, I will review what happened with I-73 and I-74, and then the other new and future interstate routes in North Carolina... Work continued on the one segment of I-73 under construction, the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass. As of the beginning of December, work was getting close to being 2/3 complete at 60.1%. Progress could be seen from US 74 on constructing of the future interchange at the Bypass's southern end. Here's a look from US 74 East in September from Google Maps Street View: Here's a photo from US 74 West taken last week by David Gallo: Work is now scheduled to be completed in October 2025, though the road itself could open earlier that year.  Progress on I-74 earned more publicity in 2022 with the opening of 7.5 more miles of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway from US 311 (Exit 49) to NC

Interstate 605

Interstate 605 is a 27.4-mile freeway located in the Los Angeles Metropolitain Area.  Interstate 605 begins at Interstate 210 near Duarte and terminates at the Interstate 405/California State Route 22 junction to the south near the boundary to the city of Long Beach.  Interstate 605 is known as the San Gabriel River Freeway and has three unconstructed miles which would extend it south to California State Route 1 near Seal Beach.  Much of the corridor of Interstate 605 was built up from what was the original California State Route 35.  The blog cover photo is taken from the July/August 1964 California Highways & Public Works which featured the initial segment of Interstate 605 to open between Whittier Boulevard and Peck Road  Part 1; the history of the San Gabriel River Freeway and Interstate 605 The origin of what is now Interstate 605 begins during 1933 with the addition of Legislative Route Number 170 (LRN 170) to the State Highway System.  The original definition of LRN 170 was