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Thread: A day hiking in Michigan's UP

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    Senior Veteran weasel_master's Avatar
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    A day hiking in Michigan's UP

    We went to visit my in-laws over the 4th of July weekend. The only day that wasn't full of plans was Saturday so I got up early to do some hiking. No one wanted to join so I spent the day by myself. Since no one was along, I was able to putz around as I wanted, and make a few extra stops along the way.

    The first stop was an old mine shaft (around 8' pipe) that has a bat box mounted on top. The UP is a huge area for bat nesting over the winter. I don't recall the name of this one, but the area is heavily populated with abandoned copper mines. There is still a huge amount of copper, but it is in large chunks called "float copper" so it not as easy to mine as the sedimentary grains typically found. There's an abandoned mine I've been into here that has one wall of one of the running shafts that is solid copper, about 8 ft tall by several feet wide.



    The next stop is an old Catholic cemetery from the Cliff Mine just down the road. It is largely overgrown with the only thing keeping trees and brush from growing is the ivy that has taken over from the graves. There is an abundance of thimbleberries here as well. They look similar to raspberries except for being much larger. They're pretty soft so they crush under their own weight when picking them. They are extremely tart and make great additions to lemonade, good for jam making, or on top of some ice cream. They are everywhere in the UP and make a great treat while backpacking or camping. The leaves look like oversized maple leaves.

    Many of the gravestones have tipped over from time, with trees falling in the area breaking several. Dates are from 1850-1890's timeframe.




    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-01-2017 at 07:20 PM.
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    Senior Veteran weasel_master's Avatar
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    This stone really points out the tough life of growing up in that era, and the toll it took on families. Several children lost too young.



    Some families took to engraving the stones themselves, with only initials, while others opted for iron crosses.



    More thimbleberries. I will be coming here to pick later this month. Several gallons could be easily picked here.



    The different mines were really seperated nationally judging by the grave stones. Central Mine was a lot of Cornish and Slovaks. This cemetery appears mostly Germany and nearby.





    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-01-2017 at 07:27 PM.
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    Senior Veteran weasel_master's Avatar
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    As you can see in this picture, the ivy does a good job of keeping out brush from overgrowing and completely hiding the site. If you look in the trees to the left you can see something peculiar, which turns out to be the foundation of an old church.









    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-02-2017 at 11:02 PM.
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    Senior Veteran weasel_master's Avatar
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    After leaving the cemetery, my next stop was by the old ghost town of the Central Mine.



    This is the old blast house, where they stored blasting materials for the mine. It was located between some rock outcroppings and contained a wooden roof, designed to blow up instead of out if the building ignited, and minimize damage to the area. You can see the walls are quite thick.



    Hard to see in this picture but and old foundation remains of another nearby building, overtaken by the trees.



    The local historical society recently purchased a lot of acreage of the area to maintain the last traces of this one thriving town. This is a representative house from the era that was saved. It was maintained in the last 100 years as a hunting cabin.



    And another:



    The original Church, opened once a year for a reunion of descendants.



    Another house, with a rough shot of the view from the hillside.

    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-02-2017 at 11:14 PM.
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    Senior Veteran weasel_master's Avatar
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    I also found some old logs from a log boom, used to float large numbers of logs on Lake Superior.



    A view towards the valley from a mining house just up the hill from the #2 mine shaft.



    A peek inside.







    Conglomerate is rock infused with copper. For this they used this big steam hammer to smash into smaller chunk which were then fed into cornish hammer mills. They operated 4 or 5 smaller hammers that would crush until the smaller chunks fit through a screen. Water was fed through the screens at a specific speed and angle to wash the lighter materials away, leaving the copper behind to be picked.





    Fist sized piece of conglomerate.



    Palm sized pieces of stamp copper. In the first 40 feet of the mine, 40 tons of pure copper were removed. Concentrations were so plentiful, it was the only mine to ever turn a profit the first year.



    Early on, miners descended into the mine using ladders. Being the first guy down or up was fine, but each subsequent person further muddied the ladder. Climbing up to 3100' to reach the lowest level was tiring and left the worker unable to put a full day of effort in. In response to this, the company installed a contraption to avoid the use of ladders. A steam engine was the workhorse, while this lever assembly took the rotational force, and turned it into vertical power. Each end of the wooden levers had vertical members underground with opposing platforms. You would start at ground level and hop on the first platform. As the engine rotated the platform would drop several feet into the shaft, at it's lowest point, it would be at the same level as the adjacent platform attached to the second set of levers. You would jump to the next platform which was at it's highest point. As the engine rotated further, you would again dive deeper into the mine, where you would reach the lowest point, and meet up with the second platform attached to the first set of levers again. A worker would hopscotch from platform to platform until he reached his working depth. A wrong leap would send you to the bottom of the shaft. You couldn't hesitate as there was always a worker behind you working his way down as well. This increased productivity of the mine. Eventually they would add a car on vertical rail system, controlled by cables. However, if you refer to one of the pictures above, you can see a note about a massacre at the mine. One of the cables broke and sent 13 miners to their deaths.



    After leaving the shaft area, I ventured through the woods to where I had heard about the old school. Unfortunately for some reason, it had been removed, whether to use the stones for another building in the next mining town or such. There wasn't much to see other than several bricks from the facade and the foundation. This is an old picture of it though.



    One thing that always catches my eye is the different construction techniques based on the heritage of the miners. In this area, several of the houses have their main beams supported on posts, and then rocked and mortared in.



    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-02-2017 at 11:42 PM.
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    After I was done looking at the Central Mine I was ready to head to my final destination, a scenic bluff on the eastern edge of the Keeweenaw Peninsula. I cooked a quick cup of tea from some wintergreen I picked in the area. Had it been mid-August the thimbleberries would have been ripe and added some flavor.

    The Keeweenaw is pretty desolate so I enjoyed my drive, stopping along the way for a few pictures of some lupines.





    I arrived at a parking area for the Bare Bluff and found this sign. The logging road has been abandoned for some time and is blocked early on to prevent vehicle access. I was warned ahead of time to avoid the lower circle of the route and instead take the past around the west/northwest of the bluff. Medical rescue was listed as difficult, I would hate to see what impossible looks like. I didn't get any pictures of the lower route as it is along a cliff edge for most of the ways, and obscured by several car sized pieces that had broken from the ledges above. A mountain goat would have felt at home.



    This is the view from the top, looking north. In the far distance to the left you can see Manitou Island.



    Panorama shot looking East, Manitou Island to the left, Bete Gris to the right (French for Grey Beast). The sands of Bete Gris "sing" when pressed with your hands, or "barks" with a sharp hit. The singing is said to be of a Native American maid who lost her lover to the Great Lakes, calling for him.



    Looking south towards Bete Gris.



    Orbital picture of the view.



    More thimbleberries.



    Bete Gris looking north.



    Map of the day. The Keeweenaw is actually an island, surrounded by Lake Superior on all sides, except the south, which is split by a canal. I didn't get a picture but the day was spent explorer with my 9mm AR pistol, light and plenty of ammo at the ready.

    keeweenaw.jpg
    Last edited by weasel_master; 08-03-2017 at 12:04 AM.
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    Czar of all the Michigans
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    Quote Originally Posted by weasel_master View Post
    More to come once I get back this evening.
    Will check back when you post more picture, very interesting for various reasons, life was not easy back then. Shame the cemetery is slowly disappearing under growth.
    Occam's razor, the simplest explanation will be the most plausible

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    berry interesting .....
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    Beautiful place to hike and interesting things to look at.
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