CannonRide Through Iron County

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Cannonshot, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Still a beautiful area to explore!

    Thanks, glad you like the hostory.

    :wave

    Thanks!
    #21
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Roddis had a string of camps to supply his rail line with lumber that he transported to the mill in Park Falls. For a while he contracted for a jobber to set up and operate the camps for him. Food service operations were key to these operations. I thought I read the workers used an astounding 8,000 calories a day in their dawn to dusk winter work. They were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, but they were not allowed to talk in the mess hall. All you heard was spoons clattering on tin plates - get in and get out and get into the woods to work at dawn.
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    The cooks were key people in these camps. Provide lousy or inadequate food and the workers wouldn't work.
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    Bunk house. Keep in mind these were primitive temporary structures intended to be abandoned and sometimes disassembled for the logs used in building them.
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    Doing laundry.
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    Supply room and store.
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    Jammer used for loading rail cars.
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    Skidding logs with oxen. Check out the road bed.
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    Taking down a camp.
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    These sites were abandoned years ago and all that is left is a bunch of litter that includes discarded cans, plates, bottles, and other detrius.
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    Some hints of the past. A tavern named after a camp that was near the site.
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    Another camp further down the road.
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    Just a lot of overgrowth now.
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    This location was the site of a rail car camp. The camp included sleeping cars, a kitchen car, blacksmith car, and an office car. They even had barn cars for the horses. Examination of the site revealed at least two rail junctions so it is believed that the site was a large landing for logs as well.
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    Just woods now.
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    #22
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is where the Turtle River runs into the flowage. There is a lot of rock and gravel found below this falls which makes for excellent walleye habitat. There is a huge concentration of fish here spawning in the spring. They have volunteers guard the fish from illegal harvesting during that time ("Walleye Watch"). Back in the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps built a Wisconsin hatchery on the site of these falls. There is a campground here as well.
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    Some white pine - but not nearly as majestic as other old growth that once covered this area. These trees probably started growing in the 1850s.
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    Water levels vary and seem to be low(er) right now.
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    Harvesting timber leads to a forest cycle that produces ideal habitat for grouse during a certain stage of forest development. Managing for grouse can make for some productive hunting.
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    Word on the street is that there is an osprey nest over there somewhere. I couldn't spot it so I think it might have come down. I did luck onto one on the way further down the route though.
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    Lots of nice habitat associated with the flowage.
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    Up until this land was sold to the DNR, it was owned by a power company so most of the shoreline is undeveloped.
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    I think I was trying to get a shot of some yellow birch here. Yellow birch provides 3/4 of the birch lumber and veneer. White birch is short-lived. Yellow birch grow thick and tall and last more than 100 years.
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    Nice road around the flowage here.
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    Hemlock trees. Tough stuff to manage. Good habitat for deer I guess.
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    The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage (named for the two contributing rivers) was created in 1926 when they put in the dam. There are 377 islands amd 330 miles of shoreline in the flowage. About 95% of the shoreline is publicly owned. Lots of great wildlife around. There are still sturgeon in the flowage but with the dam spawning was negatively impacted. There are still large old sturgeon here that were present before they built the dam.
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    There used to be 16 small lakes here. The dam topped them into a large flowage. The outline of the lakes and original waterways are shown on this map.
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    The land around the flowage was purchased with Stewardship Funds.
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    Land purchased with Stewardship Funds does not allow motorized recreation, but does allow logging.
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    Some of these natural open areas in the forest are great for wildlife. More sunlight creates more forest edges and a variety of plants and insects that some species thrive on. Openings can be created by fire (lightning), wind events, dried up beaver ponds, or even frost pockets where trapped cold air keeps trees from getting established.
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    Aspen (popple) has a place in forest evolution. What I didn't realize was that eventually you need to cut all the trees in a stand to eliminate shade to get new stems to regenerate the stand. Aspen need to be harvested at a certain time otherwise the stand will die off at about 70 years of age. The regenerating trees can grow three feet a year for their first ten years. I guess maturity is about 45 years.
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    Makes you wonder what the future is for Aspen Alley out in Colorado.
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    Red Pine plantaiton. Red pine is used to provide knot free lumber. This stand was started in 1939.
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    A bog. Bogs are open wetlands that fill with floating vegetation.
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    Waterfowl management area.
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    #23
  4. dvmweb

    dvmweb Adventurer

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    Joined ADVRider recently. Discovered CS's RR. Like a good book, with great pictures. Thanks.
    #24
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Glad you are enjoying it. Thanks!
    #25
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ralph "Bottles" Capone was well thought of in Mercer. He helped a lot of people that fell upon hard times. Back in the prohibition days he worked in the Al Capone mob. Some accounts say he sold beer, was director of liquor sales, and was cashier for the gang when they were taking in about $6M a week.
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    Other accounts say that when the gang realized that the soft drink business was wide open, Ralph was put in charge of cornering the mixer business. On a local note, Ralph owned Waukesha Waters which was a company that distributed water from Waukesha Springs (along with a little booze and beer). At the 1933 World's Fair, Ralph was the dominant soft drink vendor (other than Coca-Cola). When Al got pinched on a weapons charge in Philly, he ran the mob back in Chicago through his brother Ralph.

    Ralph only had a sixth grade education. The IRS was pressing him on tax matters. When they finally got him to admit a certain level of income, they assessed him for back taxes ($4K). Instead of just paying it, Ralph claimed he was broke and argued about it even trying to get a settlement of $1K. This lead to the IRS digging deeper and Ralph spending a little over two years in the can for tax evasion. His case turned out to be the model the IRS used on Al, Frank Nitti, and some others.

    By the time Ralph got out of the can, Sam "Momo" Giancana had taken over the gang. Ralph returned as a nobody. Although he still held some soft drink interests, he was reduced to operating a dime a dance joint.

    Remembering the north woods, Ralph bought a tavern/hotel in Mercer, WI where he stayed for the next 40 years.

    Here is a picture of Mercet in 1931 - about the time of the Dillinger doings at Little Bohemia. Note the dirt streets. The place Ralph bought is marked with red "XX".
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    It has since been replaced by a Citgo station.
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    Back in the gang days, Ralph was able to keep Al calm when he got riled up by rivals or booze. Ralph had a few problems himself. When a pesky reporter was doing stories on their enterprise, Ralph and some others severely beat the guy. When the guy went to press charges, Al and Ralph had to buy the paper to end the problem. Later in life Ralph was called before the Kefauver Committee that was doing a mob investigation. Ralph refused to talk.
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    Ralph died in Mercer (heart attack) at age 80 in 1974. His widow eventually married Serafino "Suds" Morichetti who had been Ralphs best friend and business partner.

    The guy that founded UPS (not a mobster by the way) was a friend of Ralph's and used to get Ralphy Packer tickets.

    By the way, Sam "Momo" Giancana used to take family vacations in Rhinelander, WI. Momo can be remembered for his connection with Frank Sinatra. He is also alleged to have pulled some crooked election stuff that assisted John Kennedy in his presidential bid.

    Depot museum.
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    Back in the day. I think this depot was built in 1905. The railroad arrived in the area in 1889.
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    Local urban geese avoiding being harvested during the early goose season intended to the thin the growing number of geese that inhabit developed areas. These aren't the standard migrators.
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    This is the site of a significant portage that people had to use many years ago. It was part of the Flambeau Trail. The site has been used for centuries.
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    Another Rustic Road to enjoy.
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    Sporty fresh pavement.
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    An osprey has a nest on top of this lookout. When ospreys bring a fish back to the nest, they turn it in their claws to position it head first for a more aerodynamic flight.
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    You can see part of the nest.
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    A continental divide runs near this spot. It divides water draining north to Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean and water going to the Mississippi and the gulf.
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    Lots of rock in the area.
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    These is a round stone barn in the area. This ain't it. This is something smaller.
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    #26
  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This Memorial Building is the Municipal Building. It was built to commemorate the doughboys after WW I. The local American Legion Post and the local women's club got the building built. For a town of 17,000 people back in 1922, they outdid even Chicago.
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    The place has stained glass, a doughboy statue, and a legion post.
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    Main Street in Ironwood.
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    Nice to see logging trucks downtown.
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    Ironwood Theater.
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    Old depot - now a museum.
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    Nearby ski flying hill. Quite a place.
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    Nice view.
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    Lake Superior.
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    Hurley. Was once known for vices.
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    The old county courthouse. Iron County was the 70th county recognized (of 72) in Wisconsin. They needed a courthouse so they bought this town building for $32K back in 1894.
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    Nice church in town. Oldie as well. Built in 1886. May be Hurley's oldest original structure.
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    For many years Silver Street in Hurley was considered to be the most vice ridden street in the nation. In a six block section there were once 65 places that served liquor. Gambling and prostitution were prevalent as well. The Hurley of today is much improved, although Silver Street still has a lot of taverns.
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    Al Capone ran a crime school here back in the day. Teenage girls, mostly runaways, were brought in from Canada and the midwest. Here they were trained in the arts of being a b-girl. They were taught to encourage patrons to spend and to steal from intoxicated customers. Some were forced into prostitution. Those that did well were sent to gangster joints throughout the midwest. Some girls who didn't cooperate were beat, knifed, administered acid to the face, or otherwise encouraged to follow the program.
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    It was 28 degrees the next morning.
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    #27
  8. Mercenary

    Mercenary Mindless Savage

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    :lurk
    #28
  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    By 1900, native born Finns were the largest ethnic group on the range. Instead of living in towns, they preferred a more rural life like they enjoyed back home.
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    This Finnish style building was built in 1970.
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    A view from atop Eagle Bluff (golf course clubhouse is up there).
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    This art deco building was the Cary Mine which worked from 1886 to 1964. I think it is a soft drink distributor's warehous now.
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    This flowage was created in 1941.
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    You can see mine tailing piles behind the dam.
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    Montreal.
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    This is the nicest looking former mining town I have explored.
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    The houses were in great shape and the yards were well tended.
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    In 1921 the mining company laid out a town to serve the 700 workers needed for the mine. They did a great job planning for their needs.
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    They put in 140 company houses that range from single family units to duplexes. Miners could rent the company maintained homes for as little as $1.50 per room per year.
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    The town had playgrounds and gardens throughout.
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    This was the machine shop for the mine.
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    The town had a recreation center that was top notch. Movies, billiards, soda fountains, barber shop, and a hardwood stage. It burned down on it's 50th anniversary. All that is left is the steps and some foundation.
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    An old rail bed associated with the mine.
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    This mine building has been converted to a warming shelter for the cross country ski trails.
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    I mentioned the continental divide in this area earlier. It was tough climbing and portaging south from Lake Superior. Railroads didn't hit until the 1880s. It was a 45 mile run. It took 2 1/2 - 7 days to portage and paddle south as the rivers weren't navigable.
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    The portage ran right through this neighborhood.
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    Pence has about 20 log buildings in town. That makes it the greatest concentration of log buildings for a town of that size in Wisconsin.
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    This is the headframe of the Plummer Mine. Normally these were scrapped after a mine closed. By the way, these mines closed because the hard rock mining was more expensive than the open pit that came into being in the 1960s.
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    Diagram of a typical mine like this.
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    Iron Belt may be different than Montreal.
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    #29
  10. Daamud

    Daamud Life is like a box of Old Milwaukee

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    Any idea what the cover is for?

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    #30
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A small falls at Upson.
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    Crossing a ridge heading north.
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    Bear hunters on the chase.
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    Don't know what this was, but it was an impressive old building for the very small burg of Saxon.
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    Good idea - archery range in a tavern.
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    A glimpse of some of the range.
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    Wayside claiming a view of the Apostle Islands.
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    A little overgrown. Better view just west of the wayside.
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    I took Potato River Falls off the track. Too much screwing around to get a look at them.
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    Three falls dropping about 90 feet I think.
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    Not much water running right now anyway.
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    Heading down to Saxon Harbor. A pack of wolves killed a bear hunting dog along here. Wolves have a policy about other canids trespassing in their territory.
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    Coming down to the lake at Saxon Harbor.
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    Some federal money spruced this facility up quite a bit.
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    Not much shelter along the shore here.
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    The portage inland across the continental divide began here.
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    Rivers on this side of the divide were not too good for canoe travel.
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    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.
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    When they got to this cliff site, the Ojibwa engaged the Fox in a naval battle and wiped them out.
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    Lake Superior water is clear and cold.[​IMG]

    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.
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    Difficult to keep boat landings open. Water and ice push stone into the channel.
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    I don't think these kids are going to make much difference throwing the beach stone back into the lake.
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    Nice road heading back inland.
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    Interesting to see this metroliner being hangared in a fieldstone building.
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    Bessemer
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    Old sandstone courthouse.
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    A self-taught architect designed this city building.
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    Fruit trees are often present where early settlers lived.
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    Keystone railroad bridge. The stone was brought in from Wisconsin (north end of Lake Winnebago area).
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    Old mine shops in Wakefield.
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    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.
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    It is all within the city limits.
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    The mine as it looked in 1940.
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    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.
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    Some of the streets are converted rail lines. Note the old ties coming up through the pavement.
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    Sportiness all the way back to Eagle River.
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    When you get to Eagle River, you can get lunch at Soda Pops. Hot dog bar (Chi-style) and about any soft drin you can think of.
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    Or, you might check out the Dinky Diner. It seats 10,000 . . . just not all at once.
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    #31
  12. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Really enjoyed the ride report. :clap :clap :clap Lots of very interesting history and older photographs.

    Thanks for sharing!
    #32
  13. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home.. Supporter

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    Wow, this has to be the most enjoyable RR I've read in a LONG time. Lessee, I've got some relatives in northern WI; might be a good excuse to take a look at this beautiful country.

    Thanks VERY much for your sense of history and explanations of the flora, fauna, etc. I can't tell how much I enjoyed your RR. Made my day.

    --Doc
    #33
  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Thaks Doc! Hope you get a chance to visit the area and experience some of it yourself.
    #34
  15. huggybear

    huggybear Been here awhile

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    Nice Report ,once owned part of a farm in Phillips,Wi been all over that area
    #35
  16. Mattbastard

    Mattbastard Lazy ass

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    You took a picture right in front of the house I grew up in. It's the one of US-51 southbound in Mercer. I spent my first 18.5 years in that town, then rode half the roads you did after I came back from the Air Force with my motorcycle during my college days.

    Great report!
    #36
  17. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    I enjoyed the RR too. You seem to sniff out unusual tours.

    My parents lived in Superior until 1946 when after a financial calamity, they moved to California to start over. I was born a few years later and always enjoyed listening to my Dad's stories of winter ice driving, fishing all those lakes, and Sunday picnics with friends and family at Lake Nebagamon. Dad actually owned two Standard Oil gas stations in town during the depression. He kept all his friends in food by giving them a few hours every week. To his dying day, though, he was forever gratefull to never shovel snow again!

    In 2006 I was trailering my KTM to Seattle from Boston for the Alcan 5000 TSD rally. I decided to route through Superior to try and find my parents homes and the two gas stations. Also a ball park my Mom enjoyed seeing minor league games at near their house. She was a lifelong baseball nut so I had to see her ballpark around the corner.

    I rolled into town and called my older sister on my cell. She gave me all the addresses and corners quick enough, so I stopped at each house and took pictures for her. Even a few relatives houses. While at a given house, I'd call her again and she'd have me walk the lot and ask if certain things were still there. Architectural features, alleys, and such. Amazingly, they mostly were!

    One of Dad's gas stations was converted to a modern place and the other one was a vacant lot, but I was able to find the foundations and curb ramps and photograph it. It was quite fascinating.

    The one thing that struck me most, though, was how hard scrabble Superior is. I guess it always was, being a iron ore terminal. It's pretty depressed today.

    Thanks again.
    #37
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Phillips is in a great area. I used to do some canoe camping over that way.

    Small world. I really enjoy the riding up that way. Lots of great roads, scenery, and history.

    What a great story. Superior is kind of a "rough" looking town like you say and it seems to be cold even in the summer. Looking forward to getting back up there to make a visit to the Anchor Bar for one of their famous burgers.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8TNdxbDYbPo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #38
  19. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    Dang! Quite the dive bar! I wonder if there is one of those placed in Chelsie? :dg
    #39