HOUGHTON-HANCOCK

Day 6

Before we returned to our previous campsite in Hancock, we stopped to visit the Quincy Mine, where copper had been carved from the earth by Finnish miners since the 19th century.  While the mine had been in use for years, a modern invention, a mammoth steam-driven drum was installed in 1911 to lift and drop ore and miners down as far as 2 miles beneath the surface. 

After a tour of the steam-driven drum house, a huge facility with Italian tile walls and brass fittings (the pride of the mine owner,) we boarded a cog train (one of only 3 in the country) for the incredibly steep descent to the mine adit at the seventh level.  It was the last level not to have been flooded and was used primarily as a drain for ever-rising water levels.  Viewing the work that had been done, seeing the candles by which the miners worked as well as their tools (all of which they were required to supply themselves) gave us an insight to the unbelievable hardships suffered by these hard-working men who spent 10 hours a day in these 43 degree tombs.

 

 Day 7

The day dawned grey and drizzly, so we vegged out and picked up the motor home.  Gradually, the weather improved and that afternoon we put the boat in the water for a water tour of Houghton and Hancock.  Portage Lake divides the upper and lower Keweenaw peninsula, and has the only bridge connecting the two; the bridge itself is an enormous structure - a lift bridge - capable of clearing a tanker.  Ore ships and tankers do duck into the canal leading to the lake from either side of the peninsula to ride out the wicked Lake Superior storms from time to time.

As we motored east, Hancock was on our left and Houghton on the right.  Houghton is the home of Michigan Tech University (go, Huskies!) and is definitely a college town.  We passed a group of students practicing buoy roundings in their 420s; the wind was brisk and they had their hands full.  After we got some good shots of the university buildings, we headed back west, and into the wind.  (brrr)  From our vantage point we could see the ski hill in Hancock, as well as an old smelting factory on the water. Further on, we had a chance to chat with some sailors who were overnighting before heading to the Apostle Islands, their home port.  With a west wind, they had their work cut out for them.

It was good to get back to the put in area and out of the chilly breeze.  Even Jake was happy to get out and go splash in the shallow water.

 

 
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