Fall Color Tours: The Keweenaw Peninsula (Houghton, Eagle River, Copper Harbor)
September 27, 2007
Kaylyn has a number of colorful photos of Quincy Hill in the fall. As the northernmost point of Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula would probably have been the logical place to start color touring Michigan rather than where we did start (Western UP – Ironwood, Silver City, Wakefild, Porcupine Mountains).
In any case, the Keweenaw, way up north and surrounded by the icy waters of Lake Superior, is one of the first places in Michigan to be touched by autumn’s paintbrush. Michigan.org’s Color Tour of Houghton, Eagle River, Copper Harbor starts you in the city of Houghton at the Quincy Mine (photo: Quincy Mine & Hoist by Coder). The mine is open from May through late October and is part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park and offers guided tours of the old copper mine, the largest steam hoist ever built and a whole lot more mining history. There’s a museum on site and they also have a passenger cog rail tram that takes you to the top of Quincy Hill (where I assume you can get some great photos).
The tour heads north on M-41 to Phoenix where you can apparently tour the Church of the Assumption. The copper mining ghost towns of the Upper Peninsula page from Exploring the North has a brief bit on Phoenix:
Phoenix is located on highway 41 at the junction of M-26 to Eagle River. Once (about 1872) a thriving mining town of around 500 to 1000 people, but today there are only a few old buildings and the Phoenix Church remaining at the site of the old mine. St. Mary’s Church was built in 1858 to serve the Catholic residents of the mining community of Cliff, the scene of the area’s first major copper discovery in 1844. In 1899 the church was dismantled and reassembled in Phoenix, where it was renamed the Church of the Assumption. The Keweenaw County Historical Society has purchased and restored the property so the Phoenix Church appears much as it did over 100 years ago.
From there, it’s west to Eagle River, once an important port town for the copper industry and now a resort community. Attractions include the Eagle River Falls (photo: Eagle River Falls by Jim Sorbie) and the Eagle River Inn (they have some cool old photos on their site). Keep heading north and you’ll come to Jacob’s Falls and the Jampot, where the good monks of the Holy Transfiguration Skete make jams, jellies and pastries from all kinds of fruits including their famous thimbleberry jam. Stop car. Go in. Buy jam.
Eagle Harbor is next, and I can never mention Eagle Harbor without mentioning the first blog I ever saw, George’s Eagle Harbor Web. It’s also home to the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and Museums (detailed info from Seeing the Light). Not far past here is Brockway Mountain Drive, the highest above sea-level drive between the Rockies and the Alleghenies. From the lookouts you can see glorious views of the town of Copper Harbor where you can see their photo gallery & webcam, Lake Fanny Hoe & Fort Wilkins State Park and the northern Keweenaw (photo: Samuel of the Mountain by Kyle Rokos). It’s probably time for a bite to eat too and them you can take a boat tour to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse if you’re feeling a little adventurous … or the ferry to Isle Royale if you’re feeling a lot adventurous!
It looks like the folks at Travel Michigan got a little tired at this point, tailing off with:
Continuing south of Copper Harbor is the authentic Delaware Mine, which yielded eight million pounds of the metal between 1847-1887. The scenic route continues through wonderful forests and through the city of Calumet, which was the cultural and commercial center of the Keweenaw Copper Range. Take time to visit the restored Calumet Theater and the red sandstone buildings of the downtown business district. This is the heart of the Keweenaw National Historic Park, which recognizes the importance of the mining history of this rugged and scenic region.
I’ve been in the Delaware Mine and I have to agree with UPTravel.com who say “If you have time to visit only one attraction in the Keweenaw, make it Delaware Mine, the area’s premier tourist attraction, where copper was mined from 1847 – 1887.” It’s very, very cool.
Just so it’s clear, these fall color tour entries are produced by Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!