Things that made me smile this week:
When I left you last you were exploring Calumet, a town built on copper mining money. So just how big were the mining operations, you ask?
Well, the reminders of those days dot the landscape everywhere in the Keweenaw Peninsula. When I lived there, a few decades ago, I got used to seeing historical stone buildings crumbling.
But I really didn’t see them as I scurried to and fro in my life. On the weekends I’d head out to Lake Superior or the mountains to take pictures but rarely stopped to consider the sad beauty of a world left behind.
Mostly it was all a curiosity to me. Like this stamping equipment. I never stopped to figure out what they were. I guess I considered them sculpture.
These days there’s a sign posted there to explain some of it. They were used to crush rock in order to extradite the copper.
And then there’s the Quincy Mine. Called “Old Reliable,” it operated from 1846 to 1945.
When I lived in Hancock, the Quincy mine shaft was just up the mountain from my house. I never explored it, there could have been deep holes hiding under the overgrown brush, the site was littered with mining equipment and sharp edges. Roofs were falling in. Walls were rusted or collapsing.
It’s not that way anymore. Now it’s a tourist attraction complete with guided tours.
Though it was closed for the season, we were able to explore the grounds in safety this week on a pretty morning with the sun just coming up. There’s a beautiful building that housed the hoist that glowed in the morning light.
There are a couple of old railway cars waiting for that next load of copper…
…and several walls of outbuildings that show the beautiful masonry.
I was thrilled to be able to wander the grounds without fear of falling into a mine shaft.
And to do it on the one day in the entire week with sunshine was doubly wonderful.
There are buildings and equipment everywhere. This dredge has been sitting stuck on the bottom of the canal for decades. It looked just like this when I lived there in the late 70s.
And life is still hard way up north on the peninsula surrounded by Lake Superior.
There’s something magical about this place, something hard to explain, hard to put a finger on.
The addictive combination of history and natural beauty gets into a person’s blood.
And it doesn’t ever let go.
Come along with us and we’ll take you on a quick trip through Calumet Michigan. What? You say you’ve never heard of Calumet? You didn’t know that at one time, long ago, it was on the short list of cities to be named as the capital for the new state of Michigan?
Well, let’s take a tour and I’ll explain more.
Back at the turn of the century (no, not the new century just 18 years old, but the century beginning one hundred and eighteen years ago) Calumet was a mining mecca and making big bucks. In 1900 there were just over 4600 people living in the village, copper was king, and the living was good. At least for some.
The Calumet Theatre was opulent, and still is today.
The theater has been restored, and you can take a self guided tour for $4.00.
Aside from theater, Calument also had (and still has)many bars. One of the most famous is Shutie’s. It’s been there a long, long time.
Inside you’ll find the original wooden bar, a giant and beautiful stained glass fixture hanging above, and a mirror that reflects a huge mural painted in recent years that stretches along the opposite wall.
We stopped in to warm our toes and fingers with a drink. For old times sake.
Today there are just about 700 people living in the village, a steady decline in population over the years as mining activity dried up and people left to find work. Tourism is a main source of income now, but still the area struggles.
So much has been lost to disrepair.
Still, much has been preserved too.
I have several images of the archeticture in Calumet to share, but I’m in a hotel with slow and unreliable internet. So I’ll save those for another post. We’ll be traveling tomorrow, on our way home. But when I can I’ll show you remnants of the copper mining industry itself.
And yes, you’ll get to see a few (or more) images of today’s trip up the Keweenaw Peninsula and Lake Superior too.
If you’ve been complaining about the unseasonably cold weather, and you don’t like the snow you’ve received so early in the season, well, maybe you should skip this post.
Because my husband and I are further north than normal. And my goodness there’s a bunch of snow up here.
And it’s cold too.
Did I mention cold and windy? Perfect for a short trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
We spent our first night at Mackinaw City, at the tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula, just before the 5 mile long bridge that connects the two parts of our state.
This morning we took a quick tour around town. Most everything is closed until next spring. It was sort of lonely. And really really cold, just 18 degrees (that’s -7.77 C).
The sky was so interesting, with a row of puffy clouds hanging right above the Straights…
…but both east and west of where we stood were ominous clouds, some dropping what looked like snow. That didn’t bode well for our drive west.
We headed over the bridge and started the long trek across the Upper Peninsula. We traveled along the shores of Lake Michigan for awhile, then headed north and drove along the shore of Lake Superior. Lots of boring grey skies on both sides of the Peninsula.
So we stopped to take a break in Munising, the home of Pictured Rocks, a beautiful park that celebrates cliffs and waterfalls in this wild part of our state.
Lucky for us there’s a parking lot not 800 feet from Munising Falls located right in town.
Also lucky for us no one else was there so we got to enjoy the beauty of the frozen waterfall all by ourselves.
Then we got brave and decided we’d drive out to Miners Falls, even though we weren’t sure the roads would be plowed. And some of them were not.
But since a few other people had driven on the road beyond the point that the county kept them open, we decided to go for it. I won’t lie, this made me very nervous and I was grateful we didn’t meet anyone going the other way, so we could drive right down the middle of the road in the tracks of the car (or more likely the truck) that had gone before.
Once again we saw no one out there. The woods were simply stunning.
Out half a mile, then down multiple flights of stairs that hadn’t been cleared. But it was worth it.
Definitely worth it, don’t you think?
And then, after getting back to the car a bit tired and wet, instead of heading back to town my husband headed further out on the unmaintained road to go see Miners Castle, a rock formation out at the lake.
Granted I had never been there and I had always wanted to see it, but I was stressing that the road wasn’t plowed and no one was out there and I was having flashbacks of being on this exact road in 1979 with a college friend when the water pump in my Chevette died. That was an adventure, and it had been a warm fall day with no snow!
But that’s another story.
Anyway…we got to the Miners Castle visitor center (which was of course closed) and waded through more snow out to the platform to see it. It, too, was beautiful.
And then we walked all the way down through fencing that reminded me of the security at the Atlanta airport, to see the formation from close up.
It was all fun, though I could no longer feel my toes. But it was beginning to seriously snow, and we had 3 hours to our destination on a good day.
So we headed back toward civilization, and crept over to Houghton, averaging about 40 miles per hour through increasing snow and decreasing visibility.
Tomorrow we will explore a bit around here. Both of us used to live here, different years and different reasons, and we look forward to seeing what’s changed. I moved away 43 years ago. Lots will probably be different. But Lake Superior will always be Lake Superior and I look forward to seeing more of it again.
I just hope all the roads are plowed.
I got to head back to my favorite park with a friend yesterday. It was cold, almost sleeting and I figured those little birds would be hungry.
You see, I’d taken her out there last summer so that she could experience feeding the birds out of her hand and we had not one bird visit us!
She sort of thought I’d made up the whole thing about the birds out there swooping down into people’s hands for a snack. But yesterday was an entirely different story. Those little ones were all over her!
And at the end of our walk we ran into some turkeys. They were hungry too.
I trust none of them will be on a table come this Thursday.
I’ve been debating what to use for this week’s smiling post. It’s been snowing off and on all week, wet sticky snow that hung around long after it fell.
We got a lot, and it’s early. Most of us weren’t finished with fall yet. We complained, talked about going South.
Katie has been acting like a puppy in this, our first real snow, of the season.
So I’m taking the advice of my sheltie-girl and I’m going to go with the flow and say that, believe it or not, this week the snow made me smile.
More than once.
And because I’m retired and didn’t have to drive in it I smiled even wider.
Katie is a wise little girl. I should take her advice more seriously.
Katie here. It looks like we’ve had a short fall and an early winter around here. Some are complaining about the snow coming so soon this year.
But not me. In fact this is my advice:
Go with the flow people!
What’s your complaining going to do? Make the snow go away? I don’t think so.
Besides, it showed up without much warning. I figure it will disappear overnight too. But if it doesn’t I won’t mind cause I love love LOVE snow!
Mama’s been taking me on a lot of walks because I can go a lot further when it’s cooler. A couple days ago we went to the park and there was just a little bit of snow on the ground, and it was melting fast.
Yesterday we walked all over my neighborhood and there wasn’t any snow at all. And then this morning we woke up to a snowy wonderland!
Today mama said we’d go to a new park and I was all excited. But when she opened the car door we weren’t at a park at all. We were at the groomer!
MAMA! You lied to me! But she told me not to get all upset, she wasn’t leaving me there, she was just getting my nails trimmed.
Well OK then.
And the next time she opened the door we were at a park! A really pretty park!
We walked up and down a lot of hills and I had a blast sticking my nose into the snow and sniffing good stuff.
Mama said she had more fun taking pictures of stuff and she’s not that much into sniffing. Silly mama.
Eventually she realized we’d walked a long way and she was beginning to imagine having to carry me back over all those hills, so we headed back. I didn’t argue with her even though I usually don’t like turning around.
After all, I’ll be twelve next month!
Anyway, I’m enjoying all this snow and I think you people should try to see the good side of it too.
I hope I’ve set a good example for you all.
Your soggy adventure girl Katie.
When I saw this week’s prompt I knew immediately the sunset I wanted to show you.
I was in northern Michigan in December of 2015 when one evening the sky just exploded. To the south it was burning in orange and reds, and to the north the sky was sighing in shades of pink and purple.
The air was pinkish gold. I couldn’t shoot fast enough, and I never felt the cold.
Though I usually limit myself to one photo for a photo challenge, this time I just couldn’t decide. So since the sunset itself was divided between fire and sweet I decided to go with full disclosure.
Picture me turning from south to north and back again, trying not to miss any detail.
It was amazing and I’m so glad to be able to relive it through these shots.
And, as always, I’m glad to share them with you.
February and boats don’t generally mix up where I come from, unless you’re in an ice boat skimming over a frozen lake. I’m sure that’s fun, but when I’m in a boat I’d rather worry about sunscreen than frostbite.
Saturday morning, the sun bright in a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds, was perfect for a little boat exploration.
The boat traveled under a few bridges and then up a creek, looking for the resident eagle. It was a beautiful day, and it turns out there was a fishing competition going on. We came across several father/son teams tucked in the backwaters of the lake. We slid by them as quietly as we could.
The creek narrowed, and I moved to the front of the boat looking for the eagle. Katie kept a close eye on me from the other side of the wall.
This was her second boat ride ever, but she wasn’t too concerned about the engine vibration or noise. She likes being outdoors, and she’s always up for an adventure.
Eventually we were as far as we could go up the creek. We hadn’t found the eagle, but a bit further was a low waterfall making lovely splashing noises, and more fathers and sons were fishing from kayaks. We dropped anchor to listen to the water and enjoy a biscuit breakfast.
Then we turned around and slid as quietly as we could back down the creek to the larger waters of the lake. The clouds were piling up in the blue sky.
Out in the open water Captain Carl throttled up and Katie and I enjoyed the wind in our hair.
She’s a very brave little dog and enjoyed every bit of her boat ride adventure. I did too.