Category Archives: Collections

This category will include posts about the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives: manuscript materials, photographs, maps, books, and other physical items held by the department.

Flashback Friday: Seasons of Change in the U.P.

“Scenic Views – Ripley,” Daily Mining Gazette, November 21, 1956. Image number: MS051-011-001-005.

Happy Flashback Friday, Copper Country! Can you believe we’re heading into the fall break and sliding into December? Okay, maybe “sliding” is a bad term after during this awkward transition from fall to true Yooper winter. There’s certainly been a lot of feelings shared around town about the rain, sleet, and snow; not to forget the slush and ice impacting our daily routines.

With that in mind we’re keeping things simple and optimistic this Flashback Friday with a lovely historic view of a freshly snow-covered Mont Ripley from 1956 and a wonderful little poem about winter and the promise of spring. Just remember, there’s always beauty, not just cold, to be found in those wintry months ahead.

Winter

Brusso, Clifton. Tales from the U.P.’s Copper Country. Laurium, MI: Iroquois Press, 1992.

We listen not to the quiet sound,

as crystal leaves drift slowly down,

and softly caress the cold, bright ground.

Life asleep in their far flung home,

others seeking as they roam,

for food and shelter, the woods they comb.

Carried aloft on air currents they fly,

spotting for prey they spy,

ever alert with a sharpened eye.

From the North comes a frigid blast,

freezing and biting are the winds that last,

caring not who…through this scheme they’ve past.

Rays of light seldom are seen,

shadowy trees interspaced with green,

silver creeks with their icy screen.

Months later, bright warmth melting the snow,

rains lashing out helping it go,

golden skies seen through a rainbow.

Children playing in muddy fields,

to Spring winds, Winter, grudgingly yields,

and new life upward slowly steals.


Flashback Friday: Mining History at Copper Falls Mine

Break time underground. (MTU Neg 03074)

Happy Flashback Friday! We hope that you all had a howling good time at the Haunted Mine tour put on by students at Michigan Tech and hosted by the Quincy Mine Hoist Association! Undoubtedly, the deep, dark recesses of a mine like Quincy is the perfect backdrop for a fright fest and a great opportunity to get a sense of what life in the mines was like. Can you imagine what it was like to be a miner? What sights or sounds do you think you’d see an hear?

Anyone who has taken the tour up at Quincy has heard of Michigan Tech’s longstanding relationship with the mine, which once served as a learning facility for mining engineers, giving students hands on experience in what it was like to work underground. However, what you might not have heard is the true story about how some ambitious Tech students got a once in a lifetime opportunity to actually work like miners and resurrect a piece of Copper Country history in the process. Take a drive up the Keweenaw with us this Flashback Friday and learn more about how a bunch of Tech students raised a historic hoist from the depths of the Copper Falls Mine in 1954!

 

Headline from the Daily Mining Gazette, May 26, 1956.

The Copper Falls Mine was established near Owls Creek in Keweenaw County in the 1840s at the site of a prehistoric mining pit. The mine operated for over 40 years and produced, according to a Daily Mining Gazette article from 1956, “12,843 tons of ingot copper,” and employed “mostly Cornish, Finnish, and Irish” workers until its closure in 1901. The old hoist at the Copper Falls Mine was located by Michigan Tech geology student  Robert “Speed” Burns in the early 1950s and eventually he and Dr. Joseph P. Dobell, geology professor at Michigan Tech, proposed a project to remove the 11-ton steam hoist. The Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, which then owned the property on which the hoist resided, agreed to the project following a safety inspection. The company also supported the project through the donation of safety equipment such as hard hats and headlamps.

The adit entrance to the Copper Falls mine. (MTU Neg 03072)

Over the course of 8 months from October 1954 to spring 1955, students from the Sigma Rho Fraternity lived the life of miners working to remove the 19th century hoist from its placement eight and a half levels (nearly 900 feet) below the surface. According to a DMG article about the project, access was made through an “air ventilation adit that intersected the main Owls Creek shaft at the second level.” However, the students faced two big problems: no skip, and the need to lay 600 feet of track. Ingenious Tech students that they were, the Sigma Rho students constructed a skip with wheels out of scraps found at the site and laid the 600 feet of track themselves after backbreaking work that involved filling in washouts, erecting trestles, and replacing rotten ties.

 

Part of the hoist as it looked before being dismantled. (MTU Neg 03071)

Despite battling the mile and a half trudge from the highway through snow to reach the work site and eventually combating rising waters in the subterranean levels of the mine during the spring melt, the students had risen the ancient hoist above ground in its near entirety by spring. Miraculously, not a single person was injured throughout the project and only a few pieces of equipment were lost or damaged. What the students were left with, beyond the prize of the hoist itself, was an invaluable hands on experience of “mining out” the old hoist from the depths of a historic mine.

So what become of the hoist itself? The Daily Mining Gazette article from 1956 merely states that at that time the Sigma Rho Fraternity was waiting for an offer from the “college or any group interested in having it for display purposes.” Do you know what became of the hoist? Share your story here!


Flashback Friday: Lake Superior Performance Rally

Image of a rally car driving by some spectators.
Lake Superior Performance Rally 2000.
This weekend the Copper Country will be alive with the sounds of revving engines and screeching tires, as the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) marks its 25th year. The event takes place October 18-19 in various stages throughout the Keweenaw. Today’s Flashback Friday zooms back to October 2000 as an unidentified driver of car 21 passes a group of spectators.

Rally has deep roots in the Upper Peninsula, with 2019 marking 70 years of the sport. In 1949 a time-speed-distance rally called the Press on Regardless started up. 20 years later the event became a full stage rally event, with recognition as a round in the World Rally Championship coming a few years later in 1973. While Press on Regardless opted out of stage rally and returned to its time-speed-distance history, the first Lake Superior Performance Rally was held in the Copper Country in 1994.

For the past few decades, LSPR has been the ultimate round on the American rally circuit as well as the final event of the season. Traditionally held in October, the spectacular fall colors and the possibilities of all kinds of weather events (even snow!…though hopefully not this year…) makes for a unique experience for drivers, navigators, and spectators. Viewing stages near sharp corners can be quite dangerous in certain weather, turf, and speed conditions, so be sure to stay alert at all times! The LSPR is a world-renowned event and a favorite for many, with the popular street stage in downtown Houghton allowing fans to get very close to the action. 

More information about LSPR 2019 can be found on the Lake Superior Performance Rally website.

Flashback Friday: Homecoming

Today’s Flashback Friday offers a little homecoming and gridiron nostalgia for your weekend. Very few homecoming festivities on any campus across the country can rival Michigan Tech’s for zaniness, uniqueness, and all-around fun! In addition to the sacred gridiron tradition of the Michigan Tech Huskies homecoming football game, the celebration features the crowning of the homecoming royalty, a cardboard boat race on the Portage Canal, competitive challenges, and many other events that promote Husky Spirit.

Homecoming queen candidates, 1963.
Homecoming queen candidates in the parade, 1963.

The crowning of the homecoming royalty is one of the most anticipated aspects of homecoming week. The photo in the insert was taken of the homecoming queen and candidates at the 1963 parade by Roger La Mothe. Shown on the float from left to right we have Maria Mustonen, Peggy Foley, Kristine Rowbottom, Mary Lou Junttila and Barbara Perlich.

In celebration of the football game, the main Flashback Friday photograph shared at the front of this post takes us to September 1958 when the Michigan Tech football coaches were hard at work making a game plan for the upcoming Mankato State game. At left, Head Coach Omer LaJeunesse shows a new play to Back Coach Verdie Cox and End Coach Bill Lucier. LaJeunesse indicated that he might unveil an updated version of his standby offense based on the material at hand.

The coaching meeting took place on Thursday, September 11th to plan for the opening game at Tech’s Hubbell field that Saturday. Despite blackboard tactics and intense on-field practices, the Huskies fell to Mankato State, 26-16. But even though Coach LaJeunesse started off the season with a young squad and two defeats, the Huskies pushed back with three straight victories and continued to show improvement throughout the 1958 season. The

Michigan Tech football players pose on the field, 1974.
Football players, 1974.

team closed out the season with a 4-4 record, which was admirable in the first year of play in the Northern States Colleges Conference. While much of the buzz this week has been about hockey in all its forms, the focus this weekend is on the Michigan Tech Huskies against Grand Valley State for this year’s home opener match up. Kick-off is at 1pm at Sherman Field. 

Other homecoming traditions have included various kinds of parades, creative and athletic contests,  and races in all shapes and sizes. For a full schedule of this years homecoming events, please see the Homecoming page on the Student Leadership and Involvement website.


Flashback Friday: Cliff Mine

Henry Warren’s stamp heads at Cliff Mine, September 16, 1926. Photograph by J. T. Reeder (Michigan Tech Archives, MS042-057-999-W699)

Flashback Friday to a view of the stamp heads at Cliff Mine in Keweenaw County, 1926.
Owned and operated by the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company, the Cliff Mine was established in 1845 and quickly became the first profitable copper mine in the region. By 1849 the mine had paid out its first dividend and grew to become one of the most successful mines in the region during the mid 1800s. Cliff Mine operated consistently until 1854, but by the early 1870s the mine was in a financial decline and was sold. The land at Cliff was eventually taken over by the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, but by the early 1900s all mining interests in that region were abandoned for more profitable pursuits.


Flashback Friday: Say Cheese!

Wheel of Gorgonzola cheese from the Stella Cheese Company, undated

Just in queso didn’t know, some of the staff at the Michigan Tech Archives really love cheesy puns. So for this week’s Flashback Friday we couldn’t resist highlighting a piece of cheesy Copper Country history: the establishment of the Stella Cheese Company in Baltic, Michigan.

What would later be known as the Stella Cheese Company was initially established as a farming enterprise near Superior, Wisconsin in 1917. Within a short period of time the operation outgrew the size of the farm and the company was forced to expand to its first unit at Lake Nebagamon near what is now the Brule River State Forest and named Nebagamon Cheese Company. Unfortunately, correct pronunciation of the company’s name proved tricky for its Italian owners and the name was changed to Stella. According to an article printed in the Daily Mining Gazette in 1935, the new name was derived from the Italian word for star and a “special and popular cheese called stellarosa.” As far as we can tell, the stellarosa must have been nacho ordinary cheese among the Italian community.

Daily Mining Gazette, August 27, 1935.

Stella’s big cheese was Count Guilio Bolognesi, an Italian immigrant born in 1879 in Luzzara, Italy, who controlled operations from his posh Gold Coast home in Chicago. Bolognesi’s brother, Emilio, served as secretary. Attilio Castigliano served as production manager and vice president. Himself an Italian immigrant, Castiglioano started his American life in Calumet at the turn of the 20th Century. As the business continued to grow, additional units were developed in locations such as Mass City (1929), Baraga, Campbellsport and Perkins and by 1935 Stella had grown into an installation processing 40 million pounds of milk from 10,000 cows and cooperating with roughly 2,000 farmers.

The company’s crowning achievement was the installation of its premier unit in Baltic, Michigan in August of 1935. Bolognesi prophesied that they were placing “in the hands of this district one unit” that was “destined to be the largest in the United States in the particular kind of cheese made.” Stella’s president wasn’t wrong as over the next 18 years the plant in Baltic proved that there wasn’t another unit cheddar than it.

Daily Mining Gazette, August 27, 1935.

Managed by Joseph Basso and Jacob Onkalo, the Baltic unit employed as many as 110 men and women and at its height was processing “100,000 pounds of milk into 300 22-pound loaves of Parmesan and 200 25-pound loaves of Romano in a single day.” According to a retrospective article in the Daily Mining Gazette from 1981, “in a normal year, 15 70,000-pound shipments of Parmesan cheese alone left the Stella plant.” Additionally, “as Italian cheese must be aged for nine or 14 months, South Range and Baltic would normally have as much as $2 million of cheese in its four warehouses,” though the old Baltic School, Derby Hall and South Range wine cellars were also used for storage. Cheese produced at the plant were often sold under the Kraft and Chef Boyardee labels.

The Baltic operation thrived from 1935 until 1953. By 1950, new health regulations and industry standards forced companies such as Stella’s to purchase expensive new equipment, which proved a hardship for smaller operations that fed the Stella plant. Combined with milk supply competition from Copper Country cooperatives, many plants began to close. Baltic outlasted its sister plants in Mass City and Baraga with operations funneled to Baltic. Cheese was last produced in Baltic in February 1953, though warehousing of cheese continued until 1968. Stella was sold to L. D. Schreiber Co. of Green Bay, Wisconsin and in 1963 acquired by Universal Foods.

Stella Cheese workers at the Baltic plant, 1939. Daily Mining Gazette, July 16, 1992.

We hope that you enjoyed this look back at a piece of cheese industry in the Copper Country — we think its pretty grate. Have a Gouda weekend and Labor Day!

 


Flashback Friday: The Vagabond

Boats - Fishing

For many Yoopers, if you refer to the news, the water cooler chat, or your social media feeds, there is plenty of mention of seafaring vessels the past few days. Today’s Flashback Friday is a short and sweet glimpse back to a boat that is a little more my personal style.

On this day in 1958, the Jamsen fishing craft Vagabond was put out into Lake Superior with a party of Upper Peninsula Traveling Workshop instructors aboard. The image shows the boat proceeding toward fishing nets that were placed beyond the opening to Copper Harbor. Fishing workshops were common in the 1950s, and many of the expedition vessels put out into Lake Superior were no bigger than the Vagabond. There is certainly more than one way to get out and enjoy Gitche Gumee!


Flashback Friday: Remembering the Steamer Isle Royale

Shipwrecks - Isle Royale
The steamer at port.

Today’s Flashback Friday photograph comes to us from the Ben Chynoweth Collection. It depicts the steamer Isle Royale in all of her majestic glory. A man stands on the upper deck looking into the distance, perhaps to the place where the edge of the Big Lake meets the edge of the big sky. 

The Isle Royale foundered from a leak this week in 1885. The steamer sprung the leak about 18 miles south of Isle Royale’s Washington Harbor. Thankfully the ship became swamped but the people aboard did not. The Isle Royale began taking on water on July 25 near Susie Island on the way back to Duluth. The passengers and crew were able to safely disembark and get to the nearby island. According to some articles, the ship fully sank in the wee hours on this day in 1885.

The vessel first launched in 1879 as a cargo ship of a different name, but it was later renamed the Isle Royale after she was purchased by the Cooley-Lavaque Fishery in Duluth in 1883. After the purchase she was refitted as a double-decker passenger steamer which made regular routes between Isle Royale and Port Arthur in Thunder Bay.


Flashback Friday: The Bridge Over Fanny Hooe Creek

Bridge Over Fanny Hooe Creek
A photograph of the bridge over Fanny Hooe Creek taken on July 5, 1930.

As we continue into the long holiday weekend, it is our sincere hope that you have time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and do some exploring in the beautiful Copper Country. Our Flashback Friday shares a historic image of a site you just might see if you are taking in some hiking near Copper Harbor.

This photograph is of the bridge over Fanny Hooe Creek, which is about a mile east of Copper Harbor, right next to Fort Wilkins State Park. The photograph was taken on this day in 1930 and is part of the Reeder Photograph Collection.

US-41 Fanny Hooe Creek Bridge
A fall scene of the bridge in October 2012. Courtesy of Historic Bridges.

The bridge has an interesting history, starting with the passage of the State Trunk Line Act in 1913. The Act allowed for the construction of a state route through Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon,  and Gogebic counties. Sections of this route eventually became part of US 41 and US 45. In the 1920s, new bridges were included in the trunkline to improve accessibility and expand the route. The small concrete arch bridge was constructed by the Keweenaw County Road Commission. The bridge is quite beautiful to behold, with an elliptical arch ring, filled spandrels, and decorative fieldstone work. Of special highlight is the decorative stonework, which was uncommon for many Michigan bridges of the era.

Perhaps if you took in the fireworks in Copper Harbor last night or are looking to head north this weekend, be sure to check out this small but mighty Michigan marvel!

 

 

 


Flashback Friday: Hubbell Hall Remembered

The Michigan Tech Archives welcomes the Hubbell Family during their campus visit today. In celebration of their visit, our Flashback Friday this week features a closer look at a piece of campus history tied to the Hubbell Family — Hubbell Hall.

At the time of its establishment in 1885, the Michigan Mining School (later named Michigan College of Mines, Michigan College of Mining and Technology, and finally Michigan Technological University) occupied part of the Continental Fire Hall in downtown Houghton.

Michigan Mining School’s first campus building was the Continental Fire Hall in downtown Houghton.

As class sizes grew, additional space was needed to support the new school. To solve this issue, the Michigan Mining School developed plans for a new, larger building close to downtown that would be able to provide the additional space the school needed. In 1887 John Scott & Co. was hired as principle architects for the new building with contractors from Wahlman & Gipp and I. E. Swift Company. By 1889 the new building was completed at the intersection of Hubbell Avenue and College Avenue.

The new Romanesque-style building featured new lecture halls, gymnasium, and library. It was constructed with Jacobsville sandstone walls and featured a distinctive central tower. The building was initially referred to as State Hall or just “first school building,” according to sources, but following the death of the building’s principal benefactor, Jay A. Hubbell, its name was changed in his honor. Hubbell was a well-known politician and judge for the state of Michigan, serving as a district attorney for the Upper Peninsula and prosecuting attorney for Houghton County prior to becoming a member of the House of Representatives.

Hubbell Hall, circa 1895-1901.
Hubbell Hall eventually became the building devoted to the math and physics departments until the late 1960s when both departments relocated to another building on campus. While Hubbell Hall was a central, distinctive feature on the Michigan Tech campus for nearly 80 years, by 1968 the building was in somewhat of disrepair and demolished.
Today the 11-story R. L. Smith (MEEM) building stands in the Hubbell Hall footprint, taking its place as one of the most distinctive buildings on campus. While Hubbell Hall is no longer a feature on the campus landscape, its importance to the history of Michigan Tech is well-preserved in the memories of those who attended school while it still stood and in the records preserved by the Michigan Tech Archives.

Hubbell Hall in winter, 1968.
Demolition of Hubbell Hall, 1968.