Keweenaw Peninsula on our way to AK

155 miles Munising to Ft McLain

We thought we might drive toward the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula but decided instead to park the trailer 40 miles south at FJ McLain SP near Houghton MI, home of Michigan Technological University. Houghton is a nice town and host to what may be the largest lift bridge in the world. It spans the Keweenaw Waterway, a portage canal cutting across the Keweenaw peninsula to connect to Lake Superior’s north and south sections.

Quincy Mine supply office

Just after crossing the big lift bridge we came upon the Quincy Mine and Hoist, a historic site with neat buildings and exhibits. Easy access with the trailer, lots of parking, and this site provided an interesting tour of a big successful (but now retired) copper mine.

No.2 Shaft – Rock House

This tall rock house had two skip tracks and allowed operators to readily swap the type of skip. The skips are small rail cars and would include at least one for rock and one for bailing water. And also, of course, a large man car allows transporting 30 men in and out of the mines on a 9,000 feet long trip. The man car took men down and up once each 12 hours for a long shift of work. The rock skips brought the mined rock and copper up.

Large 1920 hoist building and smaller one from 1894

This Quincy Mine was extremely profitable and allowed construction of this magnificent hoist house. The building is 75 feet by 75 feet and has 82 feet high ceilings to accommodate the tremendous hoist engines and drum. Interior walls are glazed white tile, all hand railing was done in brass, and large and well-placed windows provide plenty of natural lighting.

Largest hoist drum in the world

Our guide told us this was the largest hoist drum in the world, installed in 1920. The drum is 54 feet wide by 60 feet tall (diameter). It was capable of smoothly spooling over 13,000 feet of 1 5/8″ wire cable with 2,500 horsepower. The large cables spanned from hoist house to rock house and down 9,000 feet into the mine’s 92nd level below ground. Maximum speed of the ten ton skips was 36 miles per hour. The engineering was just amazing in this place.

The tour was interesting, informative, and enjoyable. We had a short drive from Quincy Mine and Hoist site to Ft McLain State Park on the Lake Superior coast.

Tomorrow we’ll visit Laurium Manor, built 1908 for owners of a large copper mining company and drive up the Keweenaw Peninsula to Ft Wilkins.

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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4 responses to “Keweenaw Peninsula on our way to AK

  1. A/S life’s insightout here, heading soon for our summer home in the eastern U.P.

    Copper Harbor and the genesis of US 41 is worth your trip. My dog Jack and I stopped in Gay, MI on the way back, home to, what else, The Gay Bar. Cold beer and several bikers.

    Laurium was the home to George Gipp, the ND footballer who Ronald Reagan made famous with the words, ‘win one for the gipper’.

    Calumet had the most beautiful opera house north of the 45〬 parallel. The town was strongly considered as the state capital until wiser heads prevailed and settled on Lansing.

    Enjoy your ride.

    • Charlie insightout,
      We drove all about Laurium, toured Thomas Hoatson’s house (now a B&B), went by the opera house. And spent the day up to Copper Harbor and Ft Wilkins. On the way up we had a wonderful lunch at Eagle Harbor Inn and were amazed to learn they are open year ’round. Only time this southerner has seen quad-pane glass — all their windows are compound double-pane glazed. And here we are running around with solar-tint single-pane. Chasin’ 75 degrees, you know. Drove up from FJ McLain SP on Lakeshore Dr and returned via M-41. Disappointed The Jampot was not open (Sunday) but happy to have stumbled upon Eagle Harbor Inn, a real gathering place year ’round.

      Thanks for you comments.

  2. Carolyn Flietstra

    Jim and Debbie, I hope you love the Copper Harbor area! If you only have time to do one thing, drive to the top of Brockway Mountain and check out the view of the harbor and Fort Wilkins State Park. The Copper Harbor lighthouse and Eagle Harbor lighthouse are also quite spectacular. The Verizon signal was nonexistent the last time we were up there, but there was free Wi-Fi in the taverns! Have a great time. We are really enjoying following your posts! Jack & Carolyn

    • Missed Brockway Mtn but loved Copper Harbor and enjoyed walking about Ft Wilkins, studying the archeological displays and imagining life where 300 inches of snow could rule your winter. Imagine six months with no re-supply save the occasional mail delivery from some intrepid dog-sledder? What an isolated and meager winter existence those soldiers had in 1844-45.

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