Big Bike Solo in the Western UP

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, May 18, 2010.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Primitive chain oiler. Give it a squeeze and some 90 weight oozes through some tubing to the chain at the rear sprocket.
    #21
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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    When Iron County was established in 1885, the county seat was set up in Iron River. Crystal Falls wanted the seat pretty badly so they engaged in a little mischief to get it. Some people from Crystal Falls arranged for a poker game to be held at the temporary courthouse in Iron River after a board meeting. Sometime into the game, two supervisors from Crystal River pretended to go upstairs to go to bed. Instead, they stole the county records and hauled them off to a hiding place. Some wrangling went on and finally in 1888 they held a county-wide election to decide the issue. Crystal Falls won by a narrow margin and both sides accused each other of importing votes and some other hocus-pocus. Finally, in 1890 they floated a $30K bond and went to work building this magnificent courthouse that sits atop a hill overlooking the town.
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    The clock was added 20 years later and had to be hand wound weekly until the 1940s when they converted to electric.
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    During WWII the balcony was used for air watches. Iron production was important so air watches were necessary. There is a huge bell in the tower that can be heard for miles. I read that it was no longer being rung because the vibrations were doing damage to the building. They must have fixed that problem because it rang 11 times when I was there.
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    A nice view looking east going out of town.
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    This house is now the Harbour House Museum. It is a brick and cement block house built in 1900 for the Harbour family. It is noted for the steamboat style wrap around porch. It is furnished like a victorian home of the 1900s.
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    The nearby town of Alpha is part of Mastodon Township (named after some dino-bones they found when looking for iron). Mining started in 1884. The village was incorporated in 1914 and had a bank, lights, and a water system. It was a marvel of urban planning with the important facilities formed around a traffic circle. Population peaked at 530 in the 1930s.
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    Headframe for the nearby Judson Mine. Another open pit mine nearby had a cave-in that trapped 12 miners. They managed to dig out five survivors.
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    Always happy to see these old buildings maintained and continue to be used.
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    Another reminder about pesky deer.
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    As you know, if there is one on the shoulder, there are probably more very nearby.
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    #22
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  3. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Truffle

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    :lurk
    #23
  4. prometheus rising

    prometheus rising Ghost In The Machine

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    Beautiful country, photos anf narrative:clap :clap :clap

    Joe
    #24
  5. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Budding Adv. Traveler

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    Planning on touring the Uper in late summer this year, thanks for putting together this ride report.
    #25
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is the Fortune Pond. It was an open pit iron mine from 1953 to 1958 during which it produced 1.3M tons of ore. It was left to fill in with water. The pit is 210 feet deep, 750 feet wide, and 1930 feet long. It has great visibility and is a favorite spot for scuba divers.
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    I always wonder a little about the water in mining areas. Anytime you penetrate so many layers so deep in the earth and then leave shafts to fill with water, I guess some bad things can happen. Not sure if this relates, but it does bring some issues to mind.
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    This State Park was a county park for many years. It was developed during the hard times that produced works projects like the Civilian Conservation Corps. Anytime you see a lot of rock work, log buildings, and the like from that era, there is a good chance it was done by something like the CCC or other programs like the Works Progress Administration. There is some CCC stuff here. You are welcome to drive through the park even without a sticker as long as you don't stop.
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    Some nice backroads in the area.
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    Lots of trees close in - don't miss a corner.
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    When snowmobiles first took off, there must have been a few hundred manufacturers. Now the program has cooked down to a few giants. In the old days, you would see all kinds of configurations. This 1970s period Canadian made Passepartout (the name of a Jules Verne character) snowmobile has tracks like a tank and no skis. What a gem.
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    This site was a pre-european indian settlement that was a headquarters of some sort. Various bands would congregate here.
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    Love these stone buildings.
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    Sometimes you are riding along and you unexpectedly happen upon some mine works. This is the Rogers Mine but I couldn't find much info on it.
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    In 1919, Herb Larson (a county official) established this roadside park. His aim was to try to have some timbered buffer along the highway instead of the clear cutting that was ruining the area. He saw the need for a rest area for motorists to use to rest, eat, and share information. The result was this wayside park which they claim to be the first in the nation.
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    #26
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  7. jmandrell

    jmandrell Been here awhile

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    :rofl :rofl :rofl

    Keep it coming! :clap
    #27
  8. skvirdi

    skvirdi n00b

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    I travel...I see...I enjoy....through the lens of your camera.
    Nice pics....keep 'em coming...

    cheers,
    S
    #28
  9. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    :clap
    #29
  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The Iron River area was a concentrated spot of iron mining.
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    A nice looking depot. Railroads were big in this area.
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    I was hoping to eat lunch here but they weren't operating yet.
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    The museum in town has a great collection of cabins that they moved to the site from around the county. They also have a great mining exhibit.

    This was a cabin and later became an office for a logging company.
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    This apparatus was used to lift logs off of sleighs and wagons.
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    Another company office.
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    Ironically, the Diamond Match people quit some operations in the UP in part because their logging practices led to some devastating fires.
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    I wonder what winter was like in these cabins.
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    The #3 shaft at the Caspian Mine. (The museum is at the mine site.)
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    This 60 foot #2 shaft headframe suddenly sank beneath the surface when a mud hole opened up at 3:25PM on June 17, 1937. In the end, this finished off the mine. This mine had produced 6.6 million tons of ore (shipped via rail to Escanaba).
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    This is the #1 headframe that is still standing in the park. It is the tallest remaining headframe in the county. This one hauled ore out of the mine. The one that sank hauled miners.
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    Here is a picture of it back in the day. Note the landscaping around the mine building.
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    A steam roller.
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    There were many great buildings put up during high times. So many have fallen into disrepair and have been abandoned. It is kind of sad. When I looked past the deterioration and saw what this original structure and site were like, I was very impressed. Some buildings I was looking for specifically on this trip had recently been torn down. One was a hotel in Iron River where a lawyer got into it with a prohibition agent over arresting someone in the hotel for drinking. My take on it was that the lawyer had a few himself before the confrontation started.
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    #30
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  11. ducnek

    ducnek Trying not to feel it too hard

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    wow! Awesome report \m/

    :lurk
    #31
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Eventually a local contractor put in 19 inexpensive buildings. These included barracks, vehicle sheds, showers, storage, admin, and a bakery.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Storage sheds for the vehicles and equipment used on jobs.
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    Did I mention that this side of the UP can be a little rocky with glacial till?
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    #32
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Someone wanted to know what the CCC book local to the UP was.
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    #33
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  14. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Great RR!! I love the historical component of it ! :thumb
    #34
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    There are some excellent recreation areas in the Ottawa National Forest.
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    There are some archeological remnants of prehistoric indians at this recreation area (Lake Ottawa).
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    And that day was the opening of walleye fishing so there were a lot of folks on the water.
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    The forest roads are beautiful and nice to ride.
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    Seems like there is always something nice to see.
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    Mile Post Zero is where they started marking the Wisconsin-Michigan border.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    A nice trail to the spot.
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    A scenic spot, but it still amazes me how they managed survey in these thick forests.
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    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.
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    Even the major highways are scenic.
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    #35
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    On the way to Watersmeet, I rolled past was used to be a government fish hatchery. Now it is a private trout pond.
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    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.
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    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.
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    And let us not forget the Nimrods who made that ESPN top ten list along with the Flivvers.
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    Watersmeet might be a place to get a big honkin' sandwich I guess.
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    Watersmeet is also the place where the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center is. Worth a stop. Nice exhibits and bookstore.
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    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.
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    Overview of the forest.
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    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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    #36
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Bobcat
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Beavers were part of the early trade when europeans first showed up.
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    Beaver housing.
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    #37
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  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A stop at the famous Paulding Light.
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    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.
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    Here are a couple of web photos.
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    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.
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    The UP probably has more than 100 notable waterfalls. One nice one that is easy to get to is Bond Falls. Worth the stop.
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    Mom had a hard time riding herd on her brood.
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    These may be duck-nuggets right now, but they'll be eatin' size by fall.
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    A UP power company keeps this impoundment to provide for hydro power. Kind of dry right now.
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    They were working on it.
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    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.
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    This pond was used to wash the logs before sawing them.
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    The old rail line is now an ORV trail.
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    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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    #38
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  19. cuneesity

    cuneesity Ferendo

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    Good stuff CS, I look forward to running through that area one day.


    On the bike cockpit pic....is that a meat thermometer on the right?:ear
    #39
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    #40