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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    Thanks again for the encouraging replies. It is nice to know that some folks enjoy these rides that take in some history. The fun part of these trips is the research and the riding. The report part takes a little work to try to cook things down. In the end it is all good if it helps someone else get a chance to enjoy some of these roads and places. I'll post a link for the GPS file with tracks and waypoints in a couple of days. :D
    #61
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Rockland has anice historical museum. It wasn't open but as luck would have it a lady that was cleaning the place stuck her head out the back door to ask if I wanted in. This happens a lot.
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    Rockland back in the old days. Most of the town burned on July 4th, 1892. It is a mining town.
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    It also got the first telephone exchange in Michigan.
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    1880s jail cell.
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    Projector for silent movies.
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    Carbon arc for light.
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    In 1930 a power company installed a redwood pipeline to move water for power production from the Victoria Dam. It was replaced with Douglas Fir in 1959.
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    The pipeline was 10 feet in diamter, held together by 72,000 steel bands, and was supporte by concrete saddles every ten feet.
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    When leaks sprung up, workers would drive wedges under the bands to stop them.
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    Eventually the wooden pipe was replaed with this spiral welded steel jobbie. The new one is about 6,000 feet long and moves water along at about 840 cfs - enough to fill 14 million olympic sized swimming pools a year.
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    #62
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  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    On the right side of this picture in the river valley, there was a hydraulic air compressor that provided compressed air to run the nearby Victoria Mine. The red X marks a blow off plume that I'll talk about in a minute.
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    A Canadian engineer put this compressor in and it is pure genius. I have a copy of an article about it from The Engineering and Mining Journal from 1907 that explains the whole set up. Basically, there are no real moving parts to operate this thing except to lower a gate to let water in.
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    They excavated a huge underground cavern in the rock. When they allow water to flow down a shaft into the cavern it creates a vacuum in some air tubes partially placed into the stream of water. This draws air bubbles into the water. When the water hits bottom, the air bubbles rise to form an air pocket. The pressure of the rising water gives this huge capacity compressor a steady pressure of 117 PSI with 36,000 cfm. The pressurized air, already cooled by the water, was piped to the mine a few miles away.
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    There is a system of blow off pipes that act as governors to drop the water level and draw more water and air in to sustain the desired pressure. The pipes would function automatically blowing a stream of water into the air about every 15 minutes or so.
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    There was so much volume to the air available that they could run at twice the load for 20 minutes and only reduce the overall pressure by five psi.
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    Blow off.
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    This thing worked so well that even after the mine closed, they used this compressor to build the Victoria Dam. Now it is underwater in the impoundment behind the dam so it is no longer is use.
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    #63
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    When I was in Rockland, I rode up the hill behind town to see what was left of the mine.
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    All I really found was fruit trees and old untended graves.
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    I went over to the Victoria Mine site as it seemed more promising.
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    The "X" marks the Mine Captain's house.
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    It is still there and in use. It is pretty much grown in around the mine site though.
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    This is part of the old building that powered the headworks.
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    #64
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  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I stopped by the site of some old company owned cabins for workers at the Victoria Mine.
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    This exhibit wasn't open yet for the season either, but as luck would have it someone who stopped in there asked if I wanted to see it.
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    I didn't notice any big screen TV.
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    When I looked at pictures of mining towns, and considered the number of people that worked there, I could never seem to get the math to work out with regard to housing. Well, this cabin housed 20 people. Eleven single workers lived upstairs and a family of nine lived downstairs.
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    Upstairs.
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    The wife of the family downstairs died during childbirth on this bed. After that, her 13 year old daughter had to take over.
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    She had to handle food service operations for this entire mob, household operations, and even child rearing tasks.
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    This included manufacturing clothing.
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    People were happy to have a job and a place to live I guess.
    #65
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  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A military road was a big deal. Most transport in undeveloped areas was by ship or some rail.
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    If you look at the woods and terrain, a road through here was a big project back in the day.
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    It is a good road today.
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    But I routed us on an old mining road that now handles mostly ATVs and snowmobiles.
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    This is the Caledonia Mine. It is an attraction. You can come here to work some ore piles to get some copper to process.
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    Lots of old shafts around.
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    The Adventure Mine is also an attraction. You can take tours underground of varying length. On one tour I think they have you rappel down the face of a 45 degree angled shaft. One of the UP ADV inmates I know has been a guide there.
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    There are three high trestles close together along an old mining railroad grade. They cross three branches of the Firesteel River. I didn't swing through on my big bike as I have been there many times. Here are some pix at the site from some dirt rides I host in the UP. Worth the visit.
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    #66
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Copper deposits run right up the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
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    The Champion #4 Mine at Painesdale.
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    When you turn into town, you are up on a hill away from the mine. This is where the mine executives lived.
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    As you work your way closer to the mine, the supervisor level homes come into view.
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    Closer to the mine are the worker homes.
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    This is part of a manufactory at the mine. They even used to cast their own gears for the mine here.
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    Now it is a junk dealer. I guess you can't just throw an unwanted dumpster in the dumpster.
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    When the mine closed in 1967, this shaft house was spared because the hoist was needed to maintain the township water supply.
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    No shortage of mine rock available around here.
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    Nice buildings.
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    This must have been the tipple.
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    The angle of the shaft can be seen by the angle of part of the building.
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    Obviously this was a prosperous community during high times.
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    Company houses.
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    THe next town up, South Range, has a nice museum. They are also some kind of big polka dancing center. Their community center has a dance floor that gives a little that people prefer. We'll talk more about special flooring companies in the UP a little further on.
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    #67
  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    When coming into town from the south, the Quincy Mine is visible on the hill across the waterway.
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    The first bridge connecting these two towns was constructed in 1875 and rebuilt and repaired a few times since then. The present Portage Lake Lift Bridge was built in 1959. This is the heaviest aerial lift bridge in the world. On the day before this bridge was dedicated, a ship came through and almost hit it. The ship signalled for the bridge to open. When it didn't, the ship tried to stop but couldn't. The shipped dropped anchors and tore up some underwater telephone cables but managed to stop before hitting the bridge.
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    The bridge has two decks. Originally, the lower deck was for railroad trains while autos passed above. Trains no longer cross out onto the peninsula.
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    In summer, they keep the lower deck raised to the auto crossing level. This allows many boats to go under the bridge without having to raise it. In the winter when there is no boat taffic, they lower the bottom deck so that snowmobiles can cross beneath the auto traffic.
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    This smelter is left over from the mining days. When they closed it they left all the toxic contamination behind (superfund site).
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    The National park Service wants to restore it.
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    They shipped a lot of copper out of here. At one time this small region produced 90% of the nation's copper.
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    The old rail line behind the smelter is now an ORV trail.
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    A handy vessel to have.
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    The National Park Service headquarters for Isle Royale is here. If you want to get to the island you can fly or take a ship from here or Copper Harbor.
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    I guess they need dumpsters out on the island too.
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    Heading off to work.
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    1886 courthouse still in use.
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    Too bad they haven't salvaged this 1888 fire station.
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    On the other side in Hancock, this building is still in use as a police station.
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    This was once a school of mines. Now it is Michigan Technological University. They have a fabulous mineral museum for those of you that like that kind of thing. In the background are the stumps of some mountains that used to be much like the Rockies. We'll take a trip over there later to climb to the highest point in Michigan.
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    #68
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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Another view of those mountain stumps.
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    The executives from back east thought that the miner's homes should have electricity and water. Managers here didn't see the need. The execs from the east won out and homes for miners were better in this company. The idea was to keep miners from jumping to another mine.
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    Thing started off in tents and got better and better as the years went on.
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    This is Quincy #2. The shaft is 9,260 feet deep (1.75 miles). It used the world's largest steam hoist. The hoist could lift 10 tons at a speed of 36 mph. The hoist sits on the largest concrete slab ever poured with 3200 yards of concrete. The mine gives tours down to the 7th level. Water has risen that high in the mine and drains out an adit holding the water to the 7th level.
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    This mine ran from 1846 to 1945 with some operations going into the 1970s. For a while, it was the world's leading producer of copper. This mine had large pure masses of copper.
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    It is now part of a National Historic District that covers several sites in the UP. (Sort of like a National Park.)
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    Water pump?
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    The nearby technical college offers a unique program in restoration of historical sites.
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    These wooden ore cars are back up to the boiler house.
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    Notice the rails still run to the second floor but the trestle is gone.
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    Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you are riding along and you happen upon some mine works. This headframe has an ore car abandoned with it.
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    There used to be a radar station at the airport out here on the peninsula back in the cold war days. I went looking for remnants. Looks like some government airport buildings might have been part of it back in the day. I did find this slab of native copper displayed at the terminal. Glaciers scrub these hunks of copper out of the strata and drag them along polishing them up a bit. After a while they leave them buried under a little till to be discovered sometime in the future.
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    #69
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  10. CieloPiloto

    CieloPiloto Get my bags please

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    Nice report!

    Met my wife when I lived in Eagle River for 5 years about up until 5 years back. We played tour guide around the "yoop" and "Nortwudz" everytime someone came for a visit.

    Have some close friends who work for the WDNR up there and they informed of some digs in the Nicolet Forest that are now dated to 11-14,000 years old for indigenous peoples. That sets it back to before the last ice age, which upsets many of the closed minded folk who think humans have only been on Earth for 2000 years. Some get real cranky about that kind of talk.

    From:

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/cnnf/reports/monitoring_2007/2007_CNNF_M_E_Report.pdf

    Monitoring and Evaluation Report FY 2007 p. 33

    Though other potential archaeological districts have been recognized elsewhere in the CNNF, this is the first to be placed on the NRHP. The Butternut-Franklin Lakes Archaeological District represents a 4,000 year
    continuum of Native settlement, and there is evidence that Native peoples first visited the shores of these lakes district as early as 10,000 years ago.


    The area must have looked different way back then as the millenniums have the lakes filling up with leaves, limbs and debris. Love how they word that report too, as if the natives were tourists "visiting."

    In keeping with the theme of legends and myths, we also regular-ed the Paulding light. For some it is obvious that it is traffic headlights and taillights rolling up and down the hills. Even when the flashing police lights shown brightly flickering away people would shout "ufo!" One night an ambulance passed by and everyone could clearly hear it heading north. Several minutes later we could see the flickering lights appearing and disappearing off in the distance. Still people would disregard the reality of it all.:huh

    My wife and I once took one of my telescopes to the "light" on a sunny afternoon and spied the traffic rolling up and down the hills miles away. She immediately understood how the red lights (brake lights/taillights) could suddenly disappear and how oncoming traffic headlights could go from dim to brights or disappear and then change back as traffic passed or was hidden behind the hills.

    Still fun to take people there and continue the game though.:rofl

    Any words on "Military Road" coming through WI into the U.P.? Some great stories about that road evolving from an ancient indian (errrr- native 'merican) trail into a historical passageway.

    Thanks for the report and keep up the great work!!!!!

    ~John
    #70
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I covered some information on military roads, particularly the one near Eagle River, in another ride report I did on some dual sport routes I put together for people to enjoy in that area. Fascinating to see what the standards were for those roads (pretty primitive).

    Thanks for the info on the ancients. Seems like not much is known even about those that were quarrying and mining in the UP just five thousand years ago.

    It is fun to consider all of this stuff when you are visiting some of these places on the bike. :thumb
    #71
  12. CieloPiloto

    CieloPiloto Get my bags please

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    Been a lurker here for years and just recently started chiming in, sorry, missed those reports but thanks for the heads up, will look for them!

    It truly is amazing to think about what my lie underneath our feet no matter where we stand on this little ball floating in space. So much history to be uncovered about our ancestral past.

    Regarding the roads up there on a bike, thanks for the reminder about the sand on the roads. Also the wet leaves and tar snakes can make for a bad day too. My favorite wake up call is the lingering snow/ice patches in the shade of the trees hidden in the turns in early season riding, or the fallen trees/limbs across the road after a storm. YEEEOW!!! A chainsaw is standard issue in many vehicles up there.:evil

    Thanks again!
    #72
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Laurium and Calumet were at the center of the huge Calumet & Hecla Mining Company that dominated copper mining for quite a while.
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    Laurium lays claim to "The Gipper".
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    Incredibly, Gipp's remains were recently dug up to get a femur to use for DNA analysis. Some woman claimed to be his grand daughter - an alleged product of his college days. There was no match.
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    Apparently these mining towns produced some football players. The Hunk played for da' Bears.
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    The dramatic story which was the subject of a movie with Ronald Reagan.
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    The Laurium Manor was built in 1908. It is now a B&B. They give tours.
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    This exclusive club, which is still running today, is where all the big mining execs went to relax.
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    Supposed to be a good museum.
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    On the peninsula, snow can be a problem (up to 394 inches worth).
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    Calumet Electronics took over some old mine buildings to build circuit boards.
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    Firefighters museum in an old firehouse near the theater.
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    You could ride around these towns for a couple of hours checking stuff out. There is a walking tour available for old mine stuff I'll cover in the next post.

    This mining company did not outlaw saloons as some others did.
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    When this theater was built, it was far better than anything even in Detoit. It opened in 1900 and has been nicely restored.
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    I thought the street lights with the faux power lines was a nice downtown touch.
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    #73
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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    As I mentioned, you could ride around Calumet and Laurium for hours looking at old stuff. Much of what you see in this photo is still around.
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    A lot of these old buildings are still in place.
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    The mining office - now the National Historic Site headquarters.
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    Warehouses still in use. By the way, H&C used engineers for their large long span industrial buildings. They used architects for housing and other more routine facilities.
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    Drill repair shop.
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    Early company housing (cabins).
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    These incredibly valuable old growth white pines were devoured by the mines.
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    A lot of premium wood is buried inthe mines.
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    This company did a lot for their workers. They provided libraries, schools, taught english to immigrants, built pools and bath houses, provided medical services, and even provided land for churches and fraternal organizations.
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    At one time they had 50 steam power systems running things around here.
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    Rail operations were important. Lots of rail paths to ride now.
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    Silver was a by-product.
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    Introduction of the one man drill caused a bitter strike in 1913-1914.
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    Henry Ford was paying $5/day in Detroit so some workers pulled out.
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    The National Guard was called in to preserve order.
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    During the strike, the workers held a Chirstmas Eve party for children at the Italian Hall. Someone (likely not a striker) called "Fire" and caused a rush that killed 74 people - 59 of which were children - all that were trampled to death. The Italian Hall has been torn down but the doors were kept in a museum. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it.
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    Another 9200 pound slab of native copper scrubbed off by a glacial and left until a few feet of glacial till.
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    End of Day 2. Tomorrow we get some scenic and rolling shoreline riding.
    #74
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    When the copper market fell during the depression, times were tough out here. One program that helped out was the Works Progress Administration. This program of relief for work allowed one job per family. Unskilled workers were paid 34 cents an hour while skilled forkers got 49 cents. One WPA project was this stone ship named the Kearsarge. By the way, there have been four Navy ships named Kearsarge between 1862 and the present and none of them were like this one.
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    Note the mine drill for a deck gun. There were a lot of other WPA projects out here. Some we will visit. The Gipp Memorial was one. There were also 5,000 men on highway work as well. 8-10% of the WPA jobs were for women. They included sewing, canning, and some writer's projects.
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    Dentistry looks mild compared to this.
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    This was once an interurban streetcar station in Ahmeek.
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    Ahmeek stamp mill.
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    Not much left there today. Some stone foundations for cabins are visible.
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    There is a cemetery to explore across the creek.
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    Nice shot of some mine works atop the cliffs.
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    #75
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This church was built in 1858 at the Cliff Mine. In 1899 it was dismantled and moved here to Phoenix. It was active until 1957.
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    There used to be a school next door.
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    Only a foundation left now.
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    This town started with 15 people in 1844. The first winter they nearly starved to death because a ship that was supposed to bring supplies wrecked. In the 1880s this place was booming with about 1,000 residents. They had daily stage coach service to Calumet, two general stores, two saloons, a hotel, a wagonmaker, a jewler, a doctor, a shoemaker, a talior, and a telegraph. By 1893 they shrunk to about 100 people.
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    The mine.
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    Inside the church.
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    This blacksmith shop was also originally built at the Cliff Mine and later moved here as things shut down there.
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    Before there were roads and railroads, things came by ship.
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    Ore freighters still glide silently by.
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    At the site of this falls and partial wooden dam (left side) there once was a fuse factory that made 50,000 feet of fuse a day for the mines.
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    1915 highway bridge.
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    1990 highway bridge next to it.
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    This small county has highway signs that look like this. Nice touch.
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    This courthouse, built in 1866, is still in use. By the way, there were two divorces in this county in 2005, seven in 2006, and eight in 2007. Can a lawyer make a living here?
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    This is the Sheriff's Department and Jail. The Sheriff lives there and his wife cooks meals for the inmates.
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    When the miners came to town, there were often problems. Sometimes there were lethal fights between the Methodist Cornwall miners and the Irish Catholics. The town built a sturdy jail in the attic of this place. There was one very large and very troublesome miner that the town had a hard time with. Eventually they ordered a 200 pound ball and chain. When he would come to town, they would attach the ball and chain before he got too drunk. After leaving him in a park, they were surprised to find him in a bar with a drink on one hand while carrying his ball in chain with the other arm.
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    Nice falls along the lakeshore roads.
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    Also nice shore and beach scenes.
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    #76
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A little info about Lake Superior as we travel along the shore.
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    Lake Superior is the largest Great Lake both by surface area and volume of water. In fact, it could contain all of the other Great Lakes plus three extra Lake Eries.

    Canada diverts some water into Lake Superior instead of dumping it into Hudson Bay. There is a treaty that controls the minimum water level for Lake Superior.
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    It takes 200 years to completely replace the water in Lake Superior (retention time) which is an important reason why we can't mess it up. Retention time in Lake Michigan is about 100 years and Lake Erie is about 2 1/2 years.

    The lake averages about 500 feet in depth and has a 1,333 foot deep spot near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

    Lake SUperior has the largest surface area of any fresh water lake in the world. It contains 10% of the earth's fresh water. There is enough water to flood all of North and South America to a depth of one foot.

    300 streams and rivers feed the lake. The watershed ranges from about 150 miles out in Ontario to about 5 miles inland near Pictured Rocks.
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    Shipping breaks down with about 50%+ iron ore, 30% coal, 10% grain, and about 10% other stuff. 80% is domestic shipping with 20% international. Each year 50-100 "salties" come this far from the Atlantic Ocean doing international shipping. Big ore ships (1,000 footers) caryy about 60,000 tons. Smaller ones, like the self unloader in the foreground, carry about 26,000 tons.
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    #77
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  18. Askel

    Askel Perma-n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,383
    Location:
    Da UP, eh.

    Also the original home of the Michigan Mining School, predecessor to Michgan Tech.

    Currently being reconditions to be a sort of privately run student union.


    Great report, as usual. Even though I live here and see these things all the time, I've learned a thing or two. :thumb
    #78
  19. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,618
    Location:
    Playa del Carmen
    Thanks for the historical journey, great stuff :clap
    #79
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    32,403
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
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    It is unusual to find a sand beach along this rocky shoreline.
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    This 1853 Eagle Harbor school was the site where the Knights of Pythias was formed. A teacher that worked here started the organization in 1860.
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    This organization once had close to a million members in the US and Canada. Abe Lincoln liked it and thought it was good for the country post civil war.
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    Eagle Harbor is another small rocky harbor along the peninsula.
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    If you can find you way into it without busting up on the rocks, it is a nice harbor.
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    The lighthouse will get you here.
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    The range light (navaid) will get you in.
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    This ride along the shore is one of the best rides around. You will feel your stomach floating in your chest from time to time. No need to speed. Just ride it.
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    This gadget was used to pank roads to give them a good surface for horses and sleighs in the winter time. In the 20s and 30s mechanical snow removal equipment came into play.
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    As you ride the shore, you will eventually come to a turn off for Brockway Mountain. Take it, but also try to ride the shore road to Copper Harbor that you missed. Both are great.
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    This 9.5 mile road up and down Brockway is one of those depression public works projects. 300 men were paid 25 cents an hour to build this. Total cost was $30K.
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    Looking back toward Eagle Harbor.
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    Looking south.
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    Looking at the mountain from the SE.
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    The ride down to the east (Copper Harbor) is great.
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    Looking out at Copper Harbor. One of the first light houses on the lake was put in here in 1849. The Astor was looking for shelter from a storm here in 1844 and busted up on the rocks.
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    A newer version of that lighthouse.
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    The Army put Fort Wilkins in here to protect the area from conflict with the Indians and immigrants and the like. There never really was any trouble. During the civil war they sort of shut things down when they moved the troops south leaving a caretaker behind. You can tour the fort in the state park.
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    #80
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