All posts by alneely

Flashback Friday: Ice Out, Shanties In!

Happy Flashback Friday, Copper Country. This week we’re paying tribute to that age-old rite of spring when U.P. anglers switch from ice fishing to open water fishing.

Pictured here in L’Anse in 1977, ice shanties accumulate along the Upper Peninsula waterfront after being taken off the water for the season. Many anglers are sad to have to finally throw in the towel on ice fishing season, but there’s always the promise of another big catch in the streams and open water of the coming months.
The article that accompanied this photograph from the Daily Mining Gazette noted that “at least a few brave ice fishermen still had their shacks out on the big lake when this picture was taken” and we’re not surprised. Stay safe anglers and enjoy the change of fishing seasons!
The Michigan Tech Archives has plenty more photos like this waiting to be discovered. Interested in seeing more? Hop onto our Copper Country Historical Images database at cchi.mtu.edu and browse through just a fraction of our photograph collection.

Flashback Friday: Unexpected Change: Fire at the Metallurgy Building

The Metallurgy Building on fire, March 15, 1923.

For this week’s Flashback Friday we’re remembering how quickly change can happen overnight, sometimes when you least expect it.

 The early 20th century Michigan Tech campus looked vastly different than it does today, not only in terms of the courses and degrees it offers, but its physical landscape. Many of the earliest buildings on campus are gone, lost to changes in the needs of the university or unexpectedly by disaster. Today marks the 96 anniversary of the fire that destroyed one such building.
Metallurgical building at the Michigan College of Mines.

On this date (March 15) in 1923 fire blazed through the metallurgy building at the Michigan College of Mines. According to a report in The Michigan College of Mines Alumnus from that year, students who arrived first on scene were credited with saving much of the valuable equipment inside the building. First responders reported that the fire appeared to be contained on the second floor of the building, but “minutes later the fire broke out over the whole building.” The Houghton and Hancock fire departments arrived on scene, but by then the fire had spread “into the walls and ventilation ways.”

It was clear that the building was going to be a total loss ($250,000) and not just in terms of the classroom and office space. Students lost personal possessions, records and data for experiments were destroyed, and one particular professor lost a decades worth of research notes. In its wake, classes were moved to the Chemistry Building (which had incidentally burned in 1920) and the department was forced to conduct work “with make-shift apparatus.”

Metallurgy building after the fire, 1923.

However, by September 1923, the Alumnus reported that plans for rebuilding the metallurgy building were underway and by January 1925 the publication was asking alumni to weigh in on a name for the new structure. The new metallurgy building opened for students, faculty, and staff later that year and christened McNair Hall, the college’s former president who died tragically in an accident in 1924. While this building bears the same name as a current resident hall at Michigan Tech, these were two distinct buildings.

McNair Hall. This building replaced the Metallurgy Building.
Regardless of which building it has occupied, since the establishment of the Michigan Mining School in 1885, metallurgy in one shape or form has been integral to this campus. It has evolved from mineral dressing to metallurgy, to metallurgical engineering, to metallurgical and materials engineering, before finally becoming the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2000.
Building disasters and failures like the one at the metallurgy building show how change can happen in a blink of an eye. Luckily no one was harmed and rebuilding happened in its wake. It’s a reminder that our landscapes can change quickly, that they aren’t always able to be thoughtfully planned, but even with unexpected change this campus and community continues to grow and evolve.
If you would like to know more about the metallurgy building fire, visit the Michigan Tech Archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or contact us directly by phone at (906) 487-2505 or email at copper@mtu.edu

Flashback Friday: There’s No Getting Around Winter in the Copper Country

Got snow? It certainly has been a snowy month here in the Copper Country and it looks like we’re in for another round this weekend. While some folks might be griping about all the white stuff, in the Copper Country we make the most of it, which is why we’re featuring this February 1976 photo from the Daily Mining Gazette for this week’s Flashback Friday.
Sometimes there truly is no getting around winter in this area, so what do you do? Just what Calumet native Joseph Meneguzzo, Jr. did at his home at 2042 Calumet Avenue–you go through it! Joseph’s neighbor, Julie Rauch, pictured here, shows off the impressive 15-foot tunnel the ingenious youngster made from the front steps to the road. While the tunnel seems to have been ideal for toddlers, not adults, it certainly shows the tenacity and creativity of most Copper Country youths.
If you’re looking for inspiration for what to do with all that snow in your front yard, look no further!

Flashback Friday: Snow Removal in the Copper Country

Snow removal, Houghton, January 1958.

It’s been a wild and wacky snow season so far in the Copper Country. We’re beginning to think that Heikki Lunta can’t seem to make up his mind this year. We’ve seen plenty of rain, snow, and wintry mixes out there, which is why we’re taking a moment during our Flashback Friday this week to give a little shout out to all of those who keep the roads and sidewalks clear and safe each winter.

Back in early January 1958 the Daily Mining Gazette ran an article praising the area’s snow removal practices, citing the excellent cleanup effort completed following a “heavy storm that reached blizzard proportions” the first week of the new year. The Gazette noted that the city of Houghton (pictured here) might seem “phenomenal to an outsider” because the streets were cleared almost entirely to the sidewalks, which had also been exceptionally cleared.
It’s true that the Copper Country annually sees upwards of 150 to 200 inches of snow and sometimes much more, like the 1978-1979 year where record-high seasonal totals reached 355.90 inches. Big snow means that the Copper Country is also home to some of the most efficient snow removal practices out there. As noted in the Gazette piece, it also means that snow researchers from around the country and the world come to the area to “study local methods and equipment” for snow removal — just think about that during our next big snowfall.
Interested in seeing what our latest snowfall totals are for this year? Check out the Keweenaw Research Center’s snow measurements page at http://mtukrc.org/met/weather_snow_data.htm.
You can also find more amazing snow and snow removal photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives by visiting our Copper Country Historical Images database at www.cchi.mtu.edu or by visiting the archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thank you to all of those who keep our roads clear and accessible each winter and all year round!

Flashback Friday: Closing the Books

Student studying with a slide rule, undated.

It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 fall semester is coming to a close. That said, we’re using this week’s Flashback Friday to wish all of our current Huskies the best as they head into finals week and to send out a hearty Michigan Tech Archives congratulations to those graduating this weekend.

People studying in the J. R. Van Pelt Library, circa 1960s.

We know it’s time to hit the books, hand in those last couple of projects, and complete those dreaded final exams before you can head home for the winter break and some much-needed rest. The end is in sight though, Huskies! One more week to go and then you can close the books on the fall semester. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

To all the Huskies taking part in the midyear commencement tomorrow, congrats and best wishes in the next chapter of your lives. Time to show off how crazy smart you are!

Commencement, 1958.

Flashback Friday: Honoring Armistice Day in the Copper Country

Our Flashback Friday this week commemorates Armistice Day in the Copper Country.

It’s likely that many of the local buildings looked a lot like the Houghton National Bank pictured here. (Photograph by J. T. Reeder, undated. Image No. MS042-063-999-Z617)

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, peace finally came to the Western Front, ending four long years of warfare and bloodshed.

Italian American family in front of their house in Baltic on Armistice Day, 1918.

While the guns fell silent across Europe, in every corner of the United States the sounds of cheers, bells, and whistles replaced the angry sounds of war. The news of the signing of the armistice was met with a similar reaction in the Copper Country. The Calumet News held the distinction of being the first publication in the region to break the news with a special edition “issued at the very moment firing ceased.” The news of the armistice arrived via a telephone wire from Chicago at 2:00 a.m. and The Calumet News had an early extra “on the streets in Calumet, Portage Lake, Torch Lake and other towns at 7 o’clock.”

The Calumet News, front page of the extra edition following news of the armistice agreement, November 11, 1918.
According the Daily Mining Gazette, “citizens appeared on the streets…parades were formed, flags appeared from every housetop and the business sections were soon ablaze with the national colors.” By that afternoon, “citizens of nearby towns came to the city and joined in a general demonstration” with “a big military and civic procession at the armory.”
Interested in learning more about the soldier experience in the trenches during World War I? Be sure to check out the outdoor exhibit, “Dug In: Experiential WWI Trench” located on the Michigan Tech campus at the corner of US-41 and MacInnes Drive, while you can! The exhibit showcases an actual trench dug into the ground, which spans several yards along campus. Christopher Plummer and Sound Design students created the audio component to the exhibit, which incorporates recordings of “memorial poetry and selections from soldier memoirs” with simulated battle sounds. The exhibit will cap this Sunday, November 11 with a commemorative ceremony featuring the local VFW and American Legion groups, ROTC, and JROTC as they fill in the trench. You can more information about the event on Tech Today.

Flashback Friday: A Change of Seasons

We’re using our Flashback Friday this week to honor the changing seasons. No, we don’t mean saying goodbye to fall, but farewell to road construction season!
This week back in 1958 saw the end of a big highway paving job between Quincy and Calumet, which the Michigan State Highway Department christened with the addition of yellow and white lines, pictured here. The Daily Mining Gazette reported that “sunshine, an infrequent visitor in the area in recent days, made the painting project by…motor propelled machinery impossible” following paving two weeks prior. No doubt, many motorists in the Copper Country were happy to have the work, completed by the Thornton Construction Co., come to an end and to have the roads reopened for fall color tours up the peninsula  .
We know the end of road construction means the beginning of our winter months and its own set of driving frustrations, but imagine all that glorious snow that’s on its way to the Copper Country! Enjoy the lingering fall colors, motorists!

It’s Homecoming Weekend at Michigan Tech!

Homecoming parade, 1948.
Homecoming parade, 1948.

Happy Homecoming, Huskies! We’re honoring homecoming weekend with a flashback to 1948.

According to coverage of the event in the Michigan Tech Lode, the 1948 homecoming was the “most successful Homecoming weekend ever held at Tech.” Festivities included a parade and football rally Friday night. Attendees were told to meet at the Clubhouse at 8 p.m. for the torchlight parade to Engineer’s Field with a toasty bonfire and speeches by Dr. Stipe, Coach Al Bovard, and “members of the undefeated Huskies.”

Front page, Michigan Tech Lode,  October 22, 1948.
Front page, Michigan Tech Lode, October 22, 1948.

Revelers then made their way to Dee Stadium for cider, doughnuts, and a square dance. Another parade was held Saturday and included floats from most of the fraternities and professional organizations with Sigma Rho winning top honors. According to the paper, Tech “humiliated” Northern Michigan University, remaining undefeated in their fifth win of the season.

Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.
Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.

Coach Bovard was awarded the Tech-Northern trophy, the Paul Bunyan axe, from Northern head cheerleader, Joe Erickson. Football fans familiar with the big Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry and their Paul Bunyan axe will surely be scratching their heads at that, but it seems Tech and Northern had a similar tradition.

We hope that you enjoyed this flashback to 1948. Enjoy Homecoming, Huskies! We’d love to hear your favorite your favorite Homecoming memory!

Homecoming float, 1948.
Homecoming float, 1948.

Keweenaw Day (K-Day): A Fine Tradition

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While the start of fall semester at Michigan Tech heralds the beginning of a new adventure for new and returning students, it also brings back many fond memories for our alumni. For some, it’s memories of moving into the dorms or buying textbooks; for others, it’s their first class on campus and meeting their advisers for the first time. However, most would agree that it was the student activities outside the classroom that they remember the most. Whether it was their first Tech football game or homecoming activities, if you’ve been a student at Tech since the early 1950s, you remember the fun and excitement of K-Day.

K-Day, short for Keweenaw Day, has been a favorite annual tradition of Michigan Tech students since 1951. The first Keweenaw Day was established as a way to bring the campus community together. In response to a growing student body at the then Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), faculty member, Dr. Charles San Clemente, suggested to the Faculty Association in the spring of 1951 that the college consider a campus community-wide picnic to bring students, faculty, and staff together before the rush of mid semester.

A couple enjoy Keweenaw Day on Brockway Mountain Drive, 1970.
A couple enjoy Keweenaw Day on Brockway Mountain Drive, 1970.

The November 1951 edition of the MCMT Alumni News reported on the success of the first Keweenaw Day celebration held on October 9 held at the picturesque Fort Wilkins State Park. Over 1,000 members of the campus community and their guests attended the event, marking “the beginning of a fine tradition.” The sounding of the campus siren (sometimes referred to as the Engineer’s Whistle) at 11 a.m. marked the end of classes for the day and the beginning of Keweenaw Day festivities. Buses and vans shuttled people up the coast to take in the scenic vistas of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Upon arriving at Fort Wilkins, K-Day-goers were treated to a picnic lunch and a variety of activities, including games, sightseeing trips to the lake shore and up Brockway Mountain, small game hunting, and fishing. A highlight of the day was the faculty-student baseball game, pictured here. While the game was all in fun, there are rumors that the students won. After the games and tours were ending, K-day culminated in a sing-along around the campfire.

In its 67 years a Tech tradition, K-Day has seen some changes, but at its core, the main themes of festivities, food, and friendship have remained the same. The event was moved to McLain’s State Park in 1976 to shorten the driving time from campus and reduce the road congestion that plagued the event in its early years. Picnicking and fun activities have always been central to K-Day, but additions over the years has kept K-Day a favorite among students. Inflatable games, live music, contests and informational booths; as well as demonstrations featuring medieval fighting, Bonzai bikes, and exploding gummy bears. The student organization fair has also been a great way for new students to learn about campus activities and organizations.

Local band performing at K-Day, 1997.
Local band performing at K-Day, 1997.

Generous financial and moral support from the College administration and the Student Organization helped to support the event in the early years before the Memorial Union Board took over responsibility in 1967 and Inter-Fraternity Council in 1976. Today, K-Day is sponsored by Fraternity & Sorority Life and Student Activities and still a much-beloved campus event.

As Michigan Tech welcomes a new class of Huskies to campus and another day of K-Day, take a trip down memory lane and share your own K-Day stories!


Turning the Page to the Next Chapter

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It is hard to believe that summer is almost over and even harder to believe that my time here is up. These past seven weeks as the Michigan Tech Archives intern were full of amazing (and challenging) opportunities. I had the chance to experience many different aspects of the archival profession, gain new archival skills and continue to develop others.

The most valuable and memorable experience from this internship is working with patrons on their reference requests. Providing access to archival materials is one of the most important aspects of an archivist’s job and assisting patrons find the materials they need can be challenging. Each patron and their research is unique and thus requires good communication skills that I developed over the course of this internship.IMG_0051

Property assessments and tax rolls became a surprising favorite research request of mine. Although they can be difficult to understand at first, the documents provide really interesting information about the property owners and the region in general. It is fascinating to see the changing ownership of historic homes and buildings, as well as land.

Overall, I am very blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at Michigan Tech University and to spend my summer in the Copper Country. This internship gave me the skills and knowledge needed to flourish as a new archivist and has prepared me for my future in this profession. I want to again thank the University Archivist and the rest of the Archive’s team for welcoming me into their archives and guiding me along this internship.