June 23, 2015

6/13/15 - Keweenaw NHP

They say timing is everything. Well, it sure is on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan and the time is not June!!!  Keweenaw National Historical Park has two park units and there are 20 plus Heritage Sites. Wow! That should equate to at least 22 passport stamps--but most of them are either not open until July or just plain not open on weekends.

What should have been an interesting journey through Copper Country ended up being a study in frustration. You could drive a couple hundred miles going from one Heritage Site to another and not know until you got there that it wasn't open. Don't know if it's a shortage of interest or a shortage of volunteers.

The Quincy Unit in Hancock focuses on copper mining technology at two large-scale mining complexes.  There's an info center, gift shop and ticket to the mine tour. George said he'd been underground enough. I refrained from additional comments. (But I had some!)
That's one big piece of copper by the sign.
We stopped at the Headquarters building in Calumet to get info on what was open and what wasn't. (Closed, Saturday.) I stopped a ranger who must have been doing some overtime or catch-up and she directed us to the Calumet Visitor Center.

The VC is in the old Union Building, a lodge hall shared by Oddfellows (2nd floor) and Masons (3rd floor. They rented out the ground floor to commercial tenants. After years of neglect, the building was acquired by the park service and they began rehabilitation. Because of budget restrictions, they couldn't put it back exactly like it was, but they put in some interesting "architectural vignettes" so visitors can see what the original room finishes were like. The ranger gave me a guide book so I could see what to look for--it was like a scavenger hunt! (Only, of course, you can't take chunks of the building back to the party.)

Here are some where they show you a small portion of the original ornate design with the more basic current (cheaper) decorative scheme:
Faux marble painting on cast iron column

Wall Stencil
This strip of various colors isn't showing how the wall and ceiling were painted over the years, but that it was a multi-color paint scheme with different colored glazes applied over base colors of white and tan. The ceiling is pressed metal and the ornate border at the top of the wall is "Lincrusta", a thick wallpaper with an embossed relief pattern. I had no idea they did this sort of thing. Must have cost a fortune.
On the other hand, these layers of wallpaper are different wallpapers used through the years.

The Calumet Unit features the social history of the mining community. The standard museum exhibits in the building include a lot of that. George actually did more reading and learning here than I did because I was running around trying to find the vignettes.
I found another Heritage Site nearby--the Coppertown USA Mining Museum. Nice small-town museum with lots of historical tools and implements. (Please note I did not call it "junk"--that's because they got all the rust off.)
Here are some Heritage Sites that were closed when we stopped:
Finnish American Heritage
Center in Hancock
Keweenaw History Center

Keweenaw Heritage Center
at St Anne's
The rest we didn't even try. I think it would be an interesting way to spend a day, but don't go until after summer's half over in the rest of the country. 

A few more pictures here:  Keweenaw Natl Historical Park

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