Wednesday, September 1, 2010 Sunny, windy---again---69
Copper Harbor, Michigan
This morning we made our way up the Keweenaw (key-wuh-gnaw)Peninsula to Copper Harbor. The trip was very Adirondack-like with trees bending low over narrow, twisting roads. The difference today was that there were stands of white birch in contrast to the dark green of the evergreens. The French and Ojibwa Indian influence remains mostly in the names of the villages, lakes, and rivers up and down the peninsula.
We originally thought we would spend half a day in Copper Harbor, but at the information center we came up with a list of six sites to visit. Our first stop was Fort Wilkins State Park. This wooden fort was built in 1844 as a constabulary with the intent of maintaining the peace between the Indians, the local residents, and the miners who were pouring into the area for the copper rush. But everyone lived harmoniously so the fort was soon closed, and most of the soldiers were reassigned to protect the southern border of the US in anticipation of the war with Mexico. Nineteen buildings survive and twelve of them are original structures. The buildings are furnished, each to reflect its use: officers' quarters, kitchen and mess, powder magazine, guardhouse, blacksmith's shop, carpenter's shop, etc. Interpretive signs and videos further illustrated the difficulty of life in such a remote area. A man in period costume portrayed a sutler (store keeper). He explained that supplies had to be shipped via the lakes from either Detroit or Wisconsin which was possible only six months of the year. Also, because of the length of time it took for the goods to arrive, many of them arrived spoiled or damaged. We were greatly enjoyed this stop and were impressed with the thorough restoration of the fort. Well worth the out-of-state fee.
Next our intent was to take a boat from the marina to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. While we were eating our lunch there, we learned that trips for the remainder of the day had been canceled due to rough water. So plan B. We drove up Brockway Mountain for views of our surroundings. From any vantage point Lake Superior is intimidating in its size, but especially from above. Many islands are sprinkled across its surface, and numerous freighters cruise her waters. From the top of the mountain we could see the whole village of Copper Harbor, the numerous smaller lakes scattered here and there, the golf course, and the roads coming in from the east and the west. I'm sure it is a gorgeous view when the already yellowing and reddening leaves reach their peak colors.
Coming down from the mountain we headed back into town. We drove through a forest of white pines, some of which are 200-500 years old. Nearby we also viewed Manganese Falls and the ruins of the Clark Mine. Since we misunderstood where the Quincey Mine was, we will be touring it tomorrow.
So tonight we are back in Houghton. By tomorrow our schedule will be two days behind, and our visit to Apostle Island National Lakeshore is now is jeopardy because rain is forecast for the next two days. Also, the temps are predicted to be in the upper 50's to low 60's which would make for a nippy ride on Gitchie Goommie. Such is traveling when you're "flying by the seat of your pants."