Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fog Along The Keweenaw

We're still enjoying our time on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  The red pushpin in the photo below puts our current "peninsula on peninsula" location into perspective. 

The land that points out into Lake Superior is called Keweenaw Peninsula
Houghton and much of the UP have a robust copper mining history but those days are over. The Copper Rush began in 1843 but by 1945, the last of the copper mines were closing.  Quincy Mine, a National Historic Landmark property and Keweenaw Heritage site near here offers tours, tram rides and a mining museum in the remains of the company then known as "Old Reliable".  It was given that nickname because it paid good dividends to it's shareholders.

Houghton, Michigan is named for Douglass Houghton who discovered the copper here.
Notice the old Douglass House Hotel on the left
Houghton is also the home of Michigan Technological University which makes it a vibrant place. Those who know us know we almost always like college towns. The buildings here are mostly made of brick in a variety of deep colored clays. It's a very pretty little town.

While visiting Houghton, our "home" has been in the City of Houghton RV Park which quickly rose to the top of our "favorite campgrounds" list.  It's tiny - just 22 sites but simply fabulous and right in town.  We are just a few steps away from the downtown, a 20+ mile walking/biking path and it's situated on the south shore of Portage Canal, which we've also seen referred to as the Keweenaw Waterway. The terrain here is mostly rolling and wooded hills.

Just across the waterway is the equally small town of Hancock. This is the second set of what I call "twin cities" we've visited in Michigan.  The first was two months ago when we spent time in the tiny town of  Montague, just across the river from the tiny town of Whitehall.

Our campsite was right along the water's edge.
That's Hancock across Portage Canal/Waterway.
We like this campground so much we asked about staying on for another week or two.  Our request was accommodated, but required a total of four moves. Each site would have it's own unique desirable attributes.  There simply are no bad sites here. 
My gang enjoying the morning sunshine on our private deck.
Notice how we fenced in the whole deck to make a big playpen for Lexie and Ozzie.
Standing on our deck, we can look to our right and see the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. The middle section can be raised to a point of 100 feet over the water's surface to allow boats to pass under.

In earlier times, the lower bridge deck was used for rail traffic. Later the railway was removed and that level too was made into a road for automobile traffic. In winter, when ice keeps boats off this waterway, the bridge can be lowered to allow snowmobiles to enter the road.

Portage Lake Lift Bridge is the world's heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge.
The next photograph captures a couple of interesting sights.
  1. The shot was taken from our final campsite. It was on the upper level.
  2. Our first site in the campground is where the small "pop-out" trailer is now parked.
  3. Heavy fog is a frequent occurrence here. It blankets the river so we can't see the city of Hancock, on the other side.
  4. The ship: Ranger III that passes comes through on occasion.
Mid-morning fog. Photo taken from our last campsite. 
The Motor Vessel Ranger III (in the picture above) is the largest piece of moving equipment owned and operated by the National Park Service. It is the largest passenger ferry providing service to Isle Royale National Park. The ship is 165 feet long, 34 feet wide, 648 ton vessel and carries 128 passengers.  It has a luncheon grill, three staterooms, four lounges, two decks and indoor / outdoor seating. It has a crew of nine and operates out of Houghton. The cruise to the Isle Royal National Park takes three hours and costs in the neighborhood of $60. There is nothing on the island, I am told, except nature -- and plenty of it. We did not go.

Gee. I Didn't Know...

That 'bout covers this part of our stay in Houghton. In another post, I'll include some of what we've seen on our day trips.


  1. I am so impressed you made it all the way to Houghton! I lived there in the late 60s and my mom moved back there in the mid-70s where she opened a restaurant that was legendary in the area for more than twenty years called The Summer Place. I still have some family in Houghton as my step-sister lives right down the road from your campground on the canal. You must take a ride to Copper Harbor and see the views from the top of Brockway Mountain--also check out the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge that was built by the WPA during the depression. (I had my first honeymoom in a cabin there.) Calumet is also an interesting history mining town--not much there but piques one's imagination in taking you back to a simpler time. While in Houghton, we like to go to the Ambassador Bar for thin crust pizza, the Library Bar for great sandwiches, and Gemignani's in Hancock for old fashioned ravioli. McClain State Park is also a gorgeous place to take a walk on the beach but, sadly, they no longer allow dogs even leashed on the beach areas. The Houghton Breakers (where Lake Superior meets the canal) may be more dog friendly. Glad to hear you are enjoying your stay there!

  2. I can see why you wanted to stay longer. It's great to back up to your own little deck. I'm heading off to learn more about the place.