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Old 05-20-2010, 08:22 AM   #31
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wow! Awesome report \m/

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:01 AM   #32
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A Visit to a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp

Camp Gibbs is a CCC camp that was established in the mid 1930s. The CCC was a work relief program that gave single men a chance to work during the depression.

As I turned down this entrance road, I wondered how those young men felt when they first arrived here in the back of some trucks. There were no buildings then, only tents.

The Army administered these camps. Made perfect sense as they were trained and accustomed to managing the logistics and administration of facilities like this. They didn't screw around either. If someone showed up that didn't know how to behave properly, they sent him home quickly. They had too good of a program going to put up with any BS from someone that would spoil it. From reading the stories of participants, the other workers didn't want any knuckleheads around either. For most of the life of this program, there were more applicants than opportunities so it was easy to keep a positive and motivated force.

People that applied for this program were largely destitute, sometimes only having the worn out clothes on their backs. When they got into the CCC they got several sets of clothes and boots, medical/dental, training/education, recreation, and all the good food they could eat. The basic level paid $30 per month. The worker was allowed to keep $5 and $25 had to be alloted to their families (parents/siblings) to help them survive. It cost about $1,000 per man per year (including the wages paid to them) to sustain him in the CCC. The government got some excellent value for the relief they provided these people.

One thing the CCC did was plant trees over the logged and burned off UP. It would not be what it is today without these folks. They also did a variety of other conservation work that ranged from fighting fires to building airstrips for fire spotter planes, to helping to reintroduce moose, and a wide range other other work.

Camp Gibbs chow line before the buildings were in. They washed dishes in a creek using sand to remove grease. Obviously this improved as the camp developed.

Eventually a local contractor put in 19 inexpensive buildings. These included barracks, vehicle sheds, showers, storage, admin, and a bakery.

The Forest Service was going to tear these buildings down. Some local sportsman clubs managed to preserve them. I think they lease them and this is now a recreation area.

One club was there cooking out. In addition to giving me a tour, they offered to feed me as well. Nice folks. This is the inside of what was a barracks. They converted it to a clubhouse and archery range.

I've read several books about the CCC. The top book is an overview and the one beneath is specific to CCC operations in the UP. The more local books are great as they talk a lot about day to day life. Both are available at the Ottawa NF Visitor's Center in Watersmeet.

Once the CCC wrapped up here, the State of Michigan kept indigents from around the state here. These writings are from back in the day, but I don't know if they are CCC or welfare people. Both were glad to be here I'm sure.

By the way, by 1934 45% of the UP was on welfare. If the UP was a separate state, they would have been the worst in the nation. Welfare at that time paid a family $22.34 a month. One could see how another $25 a month from a member in the CCC could make a big difference.

Storage sheds for the vehicles and equipment used on jobs.

Did I mention that this side of the UP can be a little rocky with glacial till?

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:54 AM   #33
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Someone wanted to know what the CCC book local to the UP was.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:47 AM   #34
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Great RR!! I love the historical component of it !
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:56 AM   #35
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National Forest and Border Wars

There are some excellent recreation areas in the Ottawa National Forest.

There are some archeological remnants of prehistoric indians at this recreation area (Lake Ottawa).

And that day was the opening of walleye fishing so there were a lot of folks on the water.

The forest roads are beautiful and nice to ride.

Seems like there is always something nice to see.

Mile Post Zero is where they started marking the Wisconsin-Michigan border.

This was part of the settlement for the Toledo War. "Toledo War you say? Never heard of it!" The Toledo War was a dispute between Ohio and Michigan. Michigan became a territory in 1805. Per the usual routine it sometimes included parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. In the 1830s, Michigan was preparing for statehood. Obviously they had to shrink down to pull this off. In fact, one proposal did not even include the upper peninsula.

Due to some "misunderstandings" Michigan and Ohio got into a dispute over a strip of land near Toledo. Both laid claim to it. The conflict, called the "Toledo War", took place in 1835-1836.

To make a short story long, let me explain further. Both sides raised militias and enacted laws that penalized anyone in the disputed territory from submitting to the opposite state. (Trivia: The governor of Michigan at the time was 25 years old.) The militias lined up on opposite sides of the Maumee River but never really fought each other.

The Ohio congressional delegation was messing with Michigan by keeping them from getting statehood until this was resolved. Finally President Andy Jackson stepped in and worked a deal. Ohio got the disputed strip and Michigan got the UP. At the time, the UP was described as a "sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness". Michigan finally got statehood in 1837. They also got the last laugh when the UP hit it big with iron, copper, and timber.

A nice trail to the spot.

A scenic spot, but it still amazes me how they managed survey in these thick forests.

US 2 was once part of the King's International Highway. This was a Canadian transcontinental route from Vancouver to Halifax. Around 1960, Canadian road builders were finally able to blast a road around the north side of Lake Superior.

It was also called the Cloverland Trail for a while. Cloverland was kind of a scam to attract people to the UP after it was largely ruined by logging and fires. Promoters and developers made it out to be a dreamland. Journalists that were involved in this scam didn't let facts get in the way of what they were trying to promote. For a while they actually got people to come in from western states to raise sheep and the like. After a few years they checked out and went back west. There is more to the Cloverland chapter, but lets just say it failed and they moved on to Hiawathaland and went for tourism instead.

Even the major highways are scenic.

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Old 05-20-2010, 01:12 PM   #36
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Ottawa National Forest

On the way to Watersmeet, I rolled past was used to be a government fish hatchery. Now it is a private trout pond.

This is very close to the Central ADV Rally site. Someone could ride up, catch a few trout that they pay for by the inch (this place provides tackle, etc), and bring back some ice packed cleaned trout for a nice meal.

On the way into town from the hatchery, a fisher (like this one) crossed the road in front of me. By the way, if fishers were the size of bears, no one would live in the north woods. They are pretty ferocious predators.

And let us not forget the Nimrods who made that ESPN top ten list along with the Flivvers.

Watersmeet might be a place to get a big honkin' sandwich I guess.

Watersmeet is also the place where the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center is. Worth a stop. Nice exhibits and bookstore.

Just outside the door is a 1.5 ton 75% pure copper rock that was pulled out of the Victoria Mine (where we will visit later on). The drill marks are from the mine. We are getting close to copper country.

Overview of the forest.

There would be no National Forest here if it wasn't for the government getting hold of these ruined lands and with the help of the CCC. The CCC planted 485 million seedlings in the UP, stocked streams, and laid out roads.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:23 PM   #37
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Some Wildlife


There are also big cats, mountain lions, in the UP. In both Wisconsin and the UP there have been stories about lions for a long time. Now the governments are finally acknowledging them. Kind of hard not to since the picture below was taken by the Wisconsin DNR. Just last weekend a turkey hunter in west central Wisconsin heard a lion attacking a heifer. He ran over there and scared the lion off with shots from his gun. The heifer was so badly mauled it had to be put down.

A peer reviewed scientific paper relying on DNA has verified a population of lions in the four UP counties with an "X" on the map. These are known populations. Those that know the habitat of the neighboring counties would agree that the cats are probably throughout the western UP.

Wolves in the UP number around 500 or so I think. There are about 750 in Wisconsin. These populations reintroduced themselves from other areas.
This guy got hit by a car in the Ottawa. I think it was last year that we ran into a biologist who was out checking her trapline. She was trying to snag some wolves to collar them. From time to time we come across some tracks on the trails.

There are between 13 and 17 thousand black bears in the UP. Last season I ran across eight of them (most were in the UP) while riding the DRZ around the boonies.

Beavers were part of the early trade when europeans first showed up.

Beaver housing.

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Old 05-20-2010, 04:10 PM   #38
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Paulding Light, Bond Falls, Trout Creek

A stop at the famous Paulding Light.

This thing has been on TV, has a web site dedicated to it, and is the subject of some You Tube videos showing strange lights. In fact, some show offered a big reward to anyone that could "explain" it.

If you look to the north from this spot, you'll see strange lights start to appear at dusk.

Here are a couple of web photos.

I don't claim to be no genie-ass, but it would seem obvious by looking at the geometry and terrain that this has something to do with headlights on the highway to the north. Or maybe it is a ghost brakeman's light.

The UP probably has more than 100 notable waterfalls. One nice one that is easy to get to is Bond Falls. Worth the stop.

Mom had a hard time riding herd on her brood.

These may be duck-nuggets right now, but they'll be eatin' size by fall.

A UP power company keeps this impoundment to provide for hydro power. Kind of dry right now.

They were working on it.

This steam engine was manufactured by Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee back in 1912. It was first used to power a flour mill in Minneapolis. It ran the sawmill here from 1921 to 1968.

This pond was used to wash the logs before sawing them.

The old rail line is now an ORV trail.

Back when this country was having hard times, the communists staged some rallies to win support. In September 1933, the communists came to Trout Creek to try to swing some hard pressed people to their point of view. They were elated to hear that a few hundred CCC workers (they invited) were marching into town because they thought they would be ripe for the picking. When the CCC boys got to town, the officers with them suggested to the commies that they might want to move on. Some female commie swore at the Captain and slapped his face. The CCC boys and local men broke out fire hoses and hosed down the commies. When a commie tried to get on a platform to speak, someone pulled him back down. The crowd then went after the commies' vehicles by rocking them as if to tip them over. The communists took their cause elsewhere. Hard to imagine all this happened in this sleepy little town. I guess the KKK came through with their cross burning antics back in the 20s. Who would have thought . . .
I should note that communism had a slightly different flavor around that time. I think the Mayor of Milwaukee was a communist for a while (and he did a lot of good).

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Old 05-20-2010, 04:25 PM   #39
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Good stuff CS, I look forward to running through that area one day.

On the bike cockpit that a meat thermometer on the right?
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:35 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by cuneesity
Good stuff CS, I look forward to running through that area one day.

On the bike cockpit that a meat thermometer on the right?
Cooking thermometer . . . otherwise I wouldn't know if I was cold or not.

Larger dial is better - easier to read the ambient air temp when you are shivering.

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Old 05-20-2010, 07:22 PM   #41
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Agate Falls, Bergland, Lake Gogebic

To get to Agate Falls, you stop at a wayside and then walk under this engineering marvel.

I was really more interested in seeing the railroad bridge than I was the falls. It was a nice path to the overlook.

The rail bridge is part of an ORV trail now.

This river and falls were really a river of logs back in the logging days. In fact, they touched up the falls a bit with dynamite to remove any snags that would hold up the flow of timber.

An old post card of the falls.

This ranger station in Bergland was built by the CCC in 1937 and was the first Ottawa National Forest HQs. Much of the land for the forest became available when the depression hit. The government got hold of the logged off and burn scarred land for back taxes. Some soil was burned sterile preventing regrowth.

As I mentioned, the CCC brought much of it back.

A lot of company owned towns just evaporated when the principal industry went under. I think the Diamond Match folks had a lumber town called Matchwood that went away when the company pulled out. There was no reason to go on as the houses and stores were company owned. The town of Bergland was different. The founder was wise. He stayed away from the company owned concept. Others owned their stores and houses. When something went bad, people had a reason to stay and go on to something else. There is a lot more to the Bergland story, mostly having to do with the wisdom of the founder. The town is still going strong today while surrounding communities went under.

Nice scenery.

At first glance I thought this was an eagle's nest. After looking more closely I am inclined to think it belongs to an Osprey. It is along 12 mile long and shallow Lake Gogebic (go-GIBbick).

Time zones were the product of the railroads' need to keep time. They are kind of irregular in shape. In the UP perhaps more so. When you look at the mining/railroad operations maybe they make sense. Anyway, the county line that cuts the lake is also the Central-Eastern Time Zone demarcation. People around here like it because they can hop between two nearby taverns to celebrate New Year's twice.

The ride around Lake Gogebic is pretty nice. On the west shore you can hike to a high spot that resembles an alligator's eye from a distance. At this spot, some ancients quarried to make tools thousands of years ago. Since the blackflies were in bloom, I skipped the hike.

I think Gogebic is the fourth largest inland lake in Michigan and the largest in the UP. (No big deal I guess as the UP has 1700 miles of coastline - some of which is fantastic riding. ) The lake is a great walleye and perch fishery. It used to be a great bass lake before they introduced the walleye and perch. Years ago they used to run excursion boats on the lake.

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:42 PM   #42
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Wakefiled, Bessemer, Ironwood

This was the Plymouth Open Pit Mine in Wakefield. It was 7,600 feet long, 900 feet wide, and 360 feet deep. The water depth is about 325 feet. It operated from 1913 until 1952. It was the only open pit mine on the Gogebic Range.

This whole thing is within the Wakefield City limits. I drove around the company homes and looked around.

The mine as it looked in 1940.

We are in the Gogebic Range for iron mining. In 1890, mines on the Marquette, Menominee, and Gogebic Ranges produced 80% of US iron ore. By 1900, the Minnesota Vermilion amd Mesabi Ranges surpassed Michigan. A century later, two remaining mines on the Marquette Range still produced about one quarter of US iron ore.

The stone for the Ramsey Keystone (railroad) Bridge was brought from Kaukauna (in WI at the top of Lake Winnebago) by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. The bridge was built in 1891 and rises 57 feet above the Black River.

This is the Gogebic County Courthouse. It was constructed in 1888 just four years after they started mining here. It is constructed of Lake Superior Red Sandstone.

This grand old building is still in use.

Whenever I was near old mining towns, I often found fruit trees. I may not have been able to pick out much else, but the fruit trees the miners planted carried on.

This is the Memorial Building where you come to do city business. It is a memorial to veterans of wars. It has marble walls, terrazo floors, and hand painted murals. Inside the lobby is a doughboy statue.

The cornerstone was laid in 1922. The American Legion and the Women's Club raised $500K in bonds to in 1922 to build it. This feat gained national attention because the population here was only 17,000. Even Chicago couldn't match that effort for their memorial.

They have 47 windows like this one that are worth a total of about $500K.

The Ironwood Theater was built in 1928 and at the time it was considered to be the finest showhouse in the northwest. It has solid bronze entrance doors and is of Italian Renaissance decor.

The Depot is now a museum. It was built in 1892 and at one time had a block long platform. Passenger travel continued as late as 1970. Freight traffic died off in 1981.

The view from atop a hill in Ironwood.

Looking toward a bay on Lake Superior.

A ski flying hill to the northeast that we will visit tomorrow.

I know you need to be comfortable riding sand if you off-road in Michigan, but this may be carrying things a bit too far.

The Pabst Mine was named because a beer baron had money in it. In 1926 it had a disaster. Some claim that an 11 inch rainfall contributed to the collapse of a 64 degree 10' X 18' incline shaft. Others say the problem was pre-existing.

Anyway, three electricians headed down the shaft and it caved in and killed them. It also trapped 43 miners down below for five days.

The miners rationed their lunches and after they ran through that they started to make tea from the birch bark of some mine timbers. After five days, rescuers busted them out. It is said that 5,000 people were at the mine opening when they came out. While trapped some of the miners sang songs, talked politics, and discussed religion. As they were rescued someone asked what they needed most. Someone answered "tobacco" and was immediately given a cigar.

The local inspector was relieved that the 43 came out alive because everyone had been on his ass during the time they were trapped.

End of day 1.

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:56 PM   #43
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Catching up again on some comments and PMs.

Thanks again for the encouraging replies. It is nice to know that some are entertained by a report that combines entertaining riding with interesting history.

It is also good to hear from some folks that have ridden with me before on some dirt rides in the UP. Some of them have seen a few of these things on those rides.

This is a timely report for some because starting next week I'll be taking two consecutive groups on an 1100 mile dual sport loop around the UP on dirt bikes. We'll be visiting some of these spots (briefly) as we make our way. Hope some of this history enriches their trip a bit too.

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Old 05-20-2010, 10:10 PM   #44
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These ride reports that you do with the history included are golden. Thanks!
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:30 AM   #45
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Day 2

A few comments about the Wisconsin portion of the Gogebic Range.

This is what the Gogebic Range looks like. Iron was discovered here in 1872. By 1886 there were 54 mines operating. They described the area as having inexhaustible stocks of high grade ore. Stocks rose 1200 percent. The rich speculation crashed in 1887.

In the mid-1600s, 400 Fox Indians raided Madeline Island (part of the Apostle Islands) and kidnapped four Ojibwa women. The Objiwa warriors silently pursued the Fox in the fog.

When they got to this cliff site, the Ojibwa engaged the Fox in a naval battle and wiped them out.

I wonder if this fisherman, who is enjoying an exceptionally calm day, knows what happened here.

Lake Superior water is clear and cold. The water temp is probably still in the 40s. More on the lake later.

This is Little Girl Point. Ojibwa lore says that a maiden got lost in the woods on her wedding day. She was later seen here with her lover. This point was a regular rest stop for people traveling from the Apostle Islands to the Porcupine Mountain area.

The power of water and ice keeps filling in this outlet at a boat launch site.

Today is one of those days where the horizon often becomes indistinguishable from the water.
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