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Rich history highlights Copper Country

June 26, 2014
Jackie Stark - Journal Staff Writer (jstark@miningjournal.net) , Mining Journal

Rich in history and natural attractions, the Copper Country, often called the Keweenaw, has a multitude of things to do for a fun weekend getaway with the family.

Dianne Peterson, president of the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the area is uniquely qualified to offer a great vacation to people with a wide range of interest.

"People forget that we're up here," Peterson said. "People forget that you can vacation closer to home. And we have anything you could possibly need or want."

Article Photos

The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is pictured in this file photo. The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to a few historic lighthouses, including this one, which can also be seen from the water by taking a special lighthouse tour. (Journal file photo)

With two state parks, two national parks, a number of inland lakes (not to mention the largest body of freshwater in the world), hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails and some of the most breathtaking views in the Upper Peninsula, it would seem most would find it difficult to leave the Copper Country feeling as though they'd been let down.

HISTORY

The area isn't called the Copper Country for nothing. Home to the first copper mining boom in U.S. history, the area is riddled with historical sites and monuments and offers plenty of tours for the history buff in the family.

Fact Box

Trip log:

Destination: The Copper Country

Mileage: Marquette to Copper Harbor, 147 miles; Marquette to Calumet, 113 miles; Marquette to Hancock, 101 miles.

Did you know: There are two national parks - Keweenaw National Historic Park and Isle Royale National Park -?in the

Copper Country.

Trip Highlight: Brockway Mountain: See some of the most stunning views in the entire Keweenaw Peninsula.

For more information: Visit the

Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce at www.keweenaw.org.

Home to the world's largest steam hoist, the Quincy Mine in Hancock offers tours of the old mine's facilities above and below ground, with a chance to enter the mine itself, a truly unforgettable experience.

There are also a plethora of historical societies and museums to visit in towns throughout the Copper Country.

From the Italian Hall memorial in Calumet - where the famous 1913 Italian Hall disaster that took the lives of 73 people, half of whom were children, took place - to the Delaware Copper Mine which offers a walking tour that takes you 100 feet below ground to explore one of the earliest mines to operate during the copper boom, the area is rich with history. And it's proud to show that history off.

At Fort Wilkins State Park just outside of Copper Harbor, visitors get a chance to see just what that life may have looked like back in the copper days of the mid-1800s. Every summer, the fort is staffed with historical interpreters portraying what Army life would have been like back when the fort was still an active post. Complete with costume, vernacular and popular pastimes of the era, the fort offers a first-hand view of a simpler way of life.

PARKS

The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to two national parks - Keweenaw National Historic Park and Isle Royale National Park.

Isle Royale National Park offers arguably one of the most unique national park experiences in the country. The island is accessible only by boat or seaplane and does not allow cars, bikes or pets. With more than 165 miles of hiking trails, there are many options for trip length and difficulty or those that decide to venture out to the island.

Because of the remoteness of its location, it's probably best to plan to spend a couple of days at the park, rather than attempt to make it into a day trip.

OUTDOORS

The Copper Country is well-known for its historical attractions and sweeping views. Take a drive along U.S. 41 from Delaware to Copper Harbor, Michigan's first road designated as a Scenic Heritage Route, for a beautiful natural escape where the trees form a lush canopy over the roadway.

A quick drive up Brockway Mountain will offer some of the most stunning views in the entire Keweenaw Peninsula. Or, for a beautiful lake drive, travel along M-26, which runs the shores of Lake Superior from Eagle River to Copper Harbor.

But the area isn't just great for looking at nature. It also offers plenty of ways to get into nature.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association gave the Copper Harbor trails a bronze Ride Center designation in 2011 and upgraded it to silver in 2012.

The designation represents the association's Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider.

There are also a plethora of beaches, parks and waterfalls for the avid hiker and the sand-dune stroller alike to see.

"We've got a little bit of everything," Peterson said. "No need to go to a big city - we've got it all right here."

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.

 
 
 

 

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