Monday, July 15, 2013

Without Salt, Sharks Or Seashells

Our visit to the City of Houghton (MI) Campground has been sheer joy.  We've spent most of our days relaxing on our private covered deck where we keep the wire playpen out for an enlarged play area for Lexie and Ozzie.  The weather has been beautiful most days.  A few hot days have crept in but how can we complain. 

We did steal away for occasional shopping sprees a few sightseeing days.  A day trip around Keweenaw Peninsula and to Copper Harbor would be meaningful to us because our arrival there will mark our visits to both ends of U.S. Highway 41.... Miami, Florida (many times) and Copper Harbor, Michigan (first time).  Cool.

The day was absolutely perfect with brilliant blue skies overhead, comfortable temperature and pretty good roads.  We started at Houghton and drove part way on the interior highway to see the Village of Calumet. Later we drove along the coast to catch Eagle River Falls, Eagle Harbor and then Copper Harbor where we'll be famished -- just in time for lunch. We're hoping to find some fresh whitefish ... maybe at a small "hole-in-the-wall" place.  Yum.

This giant map of Keweenaw county shows the route we'll take from Houghton to Copper Harbor.

The Village Of Calumet

Entering the Village of Calumet is a little like stepping back in time.  It was a special treasure for us to find as we'd not heard anything about it in advance! 

Downtown Calumet
Originally named "Red Jacket" this community was the center of the mining industry in the late 1800's and is now a National Historic Landmark District. The village sits on some 2,000 miles of underground mine shafts. It was settled in 1864 and didn't take the name of Calumet until 1929.

Our first stop was Saint Paul The Apostle Church.  It was formed in 1889 by Slovenian immigrants. The church was, at that time, known as Saint Joseph's Catholic Church. The Slovenian people came here to work in the copper mines.  The first church building burned in 1902 but was rebuilt in 1908. 

Saint Paul The Apostle Church
Saint Paul The Apostle Church is constructed of local Jacobsville sandstone, as are most of the building in Calumet and the surrounding area.  The inside of the church remains virtually unchanged architecturally and has a beautiful 18' pipe organ and lots of stained glass.

Another interesting stop in Calumet is the site of the Italian Hall. A plaque tells the story of striking miner families who were gathered in the huge building here on Christmas Eve 1913 when a false cry of "fire" precipitated a rush of people that resulted in the crushing and/or suffocation of seventy-three people, mostly children. It was a horrible tragedy.
This archway and sidewalk are all that remain of the huge multi-story Italian Hall.
Folk singer Woody Guthrie's song "1913 Massacre" is based on this event.
Our next stop was to see a small gorge and two bridges, side by side, that cross it. Turns out the older looking bridge is the newer one, the newer looking one is actually the oldest.  The old one was closed to vehicular traffic and is now used just for pedestrian crossing.

Lake Shore Drive Bridge

The Lake Shore Drive Timber Bridge - 1990
It replaced the 1915 bridge over the gorge that's here.

The Wayner is so good to pose occasionally for my picture taking.
The old bridge is the near one... it's now strictly pedestrian used.

A few minutes at the Lake Shore Bridges and we pushed on.  Getting pretty hungry now and anxious for that delicious local lunch we're hoping to find at Copper Harbor. 

I don't remember exactly where, in today's travel, we came across this stone gunship.
It seems unique enough to include here.

Great Sand Bay

Lake Superior, it's shoreline, beach, sunshine and the area as a whole, are breathtakingly beautiful. Especially as I am seeing it for the very first time.  The road up the Keweenaw Peninsula into Copper Harbor had many stops and views like this one at Great Sand Bay:

 I'm having a difficult time with large water that's without salt, sharks or seashells
I like it though -- no corrosion, loss of limbs or feet cuts during beach walks. 
Drawing ever nearer to Copper Harbor and really famished for lunch, we stumble into another quaint place. A few minutes here too:

Eagle Harbor

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Stupendous views!
And the lighthouse here at Eagle Harbor is, I am told, among those most commonly used for lighthouse calendars.  I can see why. It was beautiful from every angle. 

One more stop; this one at a simple little rest stop with rock walls, shade trees, picnic tables, shoreline and more of those perfect views.

Copper Harbor

And then we arrived at Copper Harbor.  It seemed strange to find that no restaurants seemed to be open.  It was a Saturday afternoon, after all.  Lots of people, lots of traffic, but it seemed a little like a bad science fiction move.  Noting seemed to be open.  A stop at a convenience store with an open door and I learned the reason: NO ELECTRICITY so nothing is being served anywhere on the peninsula. Horrors. What do we do?  We make a bee line out of town on US 41 to the next nearest place to eat.  By now, we're not picky... just hungry. If we find something close enough, we'll eat and  come back to explore Copper Harbor.  And so we drove, and drove and drove.  Nothing is on this stretch of road.

Snow Gauge Park

The giant snow gauge and the tiny park around it is about 20 miles back down the peninsula from Copper Harbor. We stopped, rummaged around the back of the car to find our emergency "eats": peanut butter crackers and granola bars.  There's always bottled water in the car.  That's lunch. It's late, we're tired and frankly, pretty frustrated at the whole situation. We did not go back to see Copper Harbor.  It's okay... at least we can say we've been there..

The snow gauge was a pretty impressive stop in itself. I wish now that I had stood by the towering measure and asked Wayne to take my picture. That would put it in better perspective.  The bottom line is this: the highest recorded accumulated snowfall for this area is 390.4 inches (top of gauge) in the winter of 1978-79. 

After eating our peanut butter crackers, granola bars and water, we returned to Hancock where we knew where to find a fish store that had been recommended.

Peterson's Fish Market and roadside cafe became our stop for fish.  It's all the way back in Hancock, just a bridge crossing from the campground in Houghton.  We bought smoked salmon, which we ate immediately and a few whitefish fillets that we baked back at the motorhome.  Umm ummm good.
Smoked Salmon at home with a small glass of wine.
Even without the much anticipated freshwater fish lunch we hoped for, we had a great day.  Thanks for riding along with us. Hope you didn't get too hungry.


  1. Too bad about the power outage, but it looked like you had a good adventure in spite of it. I didn't know much of that Calumet history--interesting how we often learn so much more about a place as tourists vs. those who live in the area. Peterson fish market is the real thing. I suspect that is lake trout--they are huge and similar to coho. Glad you are enjoying the north country. Now you just need to find a place to take a sauna and jump in the lake.

  2. Last summer we were treated to half a salmon from Lake Michigan. Yum! Maybe that salmon was local??

  3. looks like a sweet location you are in and what a great park... we were moving westward today but with the storms coming in we decided to stay put for the weekeend