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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.













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