Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Winter Visit

Yes, I realize this is the month of June. No, this is not another post about snow in the Keweenaw. It’s a post about a visit from Pastor Eric and Ruth Winter. I was very tempted to use a different title for this post: “A Visit from Old Man Winter.” Pastor Eric and I have always traded barbs, so he wouldn’t have been insulted. As you can see, I decided to play nice (for a change).

Ruth is an actual Yooper, but she had never traveled to the Keweenaw Peninsula. She grew up west of Manistique in the southern U.P., and Pastor Eric is a native of Canada. I worked with them at Community Baptist Christian School for many of the 18 years they've been in Saginaw. Don't tell anyone I said this, but they're great people. Shhh. You didn't hear that from me.

Our first official visitors were spending some time in the U.P. in celebration of their 30th anniversary. They arrived in Calumet on Tuesday and left on Thursday afternoon. The weather wasn’t ideal, but the Lord gave us a break in the weather for some sightseeing, and then gave us a nice photo opportunity with some fascinating storm clouds on Lake Superior.

Their visit with us began on Tuesday with chit chat, dinner and a drive south and east of Calumet.  We headed down Hwy. 203 and made our first stop between Calumet and Hancock at McLain State Park.  Although this park is known for beautiful sunsets, the clouds were not going to cooperate that day.  Quick entrance to the park was secured with our Michigan Recreation Passport (that tiny “P” on our license plate tab).  We bypassed the camping area and headed southwest along the park road to the seawall and fishing pier.  A lighthouse is located at the end of the seawall or breakwater.  My brain wasn’t functioning well enough to remember the name of the lighthouse when we were there, but it’s the Keweenaw Waterway Upper Entrance Lighthouse. 

If you study a map, the lighthouse is situated at the western end of the Keweenaw Waterway, also called the Portage Canal.

As you can see, Lake Superior was not the typical sapphire blue that evening.  Here's a photo of the guys checking out the storm clouds in the distance.

We buzzed through Hancock, Dollar Bay, Lake Linden and stopped at the overlook north of Hancock for a quick photo or two. By that time, they were pretty tuckered out, so we headed home and treated them to our deluxe basement accommodations.

The next morning, we all had a few bites to eat and headed up the peninsula along Hwy. 41. Our first stop of the day was for the obligatory photo op at the Keweenaw County Snow Gauge (a.k.a. Snow Thermometer). I got a nice shot of our guests.

We rarely pass by this location during the tourist season without seeing someone posing at the base of the gauge. We continued up Hwy. 41 and made a brief stop at our property. They obviously couldn’t be allowed to depart the Keweenaw without seeing our acreage, barn and basement. Then, it was on to the old mining town of Central, once the home of almost 1300 people. The last permanent resident left in 1952, but there are still a few homes used as summer residences. We toured the two old mining houses open to the public. One is filled with informative displays about the ghost town and one is set up as a home with period furnishings.

Ruth was the first to notice this deer at Central.

Back in the Traverse, we made our way to Copper Harbor. After making a short stop at the public dock in the middle of town, we headed to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse overlook on Hwy. 41. I know I recently posted a photo of this lighthouse, but here it was on June 20th with an overcast sky.

We went on to Hwy. 41’s northern terminus just east of Copper Harbor. Remember, Hwy. 41 begins in Copper Harbor and ends in Miami (or vice versa). Fort Wilkins was next on the list. The sun came out, and we did a pretty quick tour of the fort. I snapped a few more shots of Lake Fanny Hooe while we were there.

Next, it was back through the town of Copper Harbor and up, up Brockway Mountain. It’s hard to see in the following photo, but there was a layer of fog, clouds or maybe the approaching storm in the distance – just above the waters of Lake Superior.

Still pretty! We walked over to the other side of the parking area and photographed Lake Medora.

After winding down Brockway Mountain Drive back to Hwy. 26, we headed to Esrey Park. This is the park I’ve mentioned in the past, the one with the rocky steps. Here’s another view of the coastline there. You can even see Hwy. 26 through the break in the trees on the right.

Next stop: Silver River Falls. Then: Eagle Harbor. We took the Marina Road and let them photograph the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse from that vantage point. Our stomachs were really ready for cookies from The Jampot by then, but we couldn’t pass by Great Sand Bay without stopping. Here’s a shot of the amazing view we had there.

Pretty impressive storm, huh? This isn’t the first “cloud wall” we’ve seen in the Keweenaw. Here’s an approaching storm we photographed last July 4th in Copper Harbor.

Another beautiful sight when you live near Lake Superior!

We somehow made it into The Jampot for muffins and cookies before the rain came. The skies opened up as we left, and it poured and poured until we were most of the way down Five Mile Point Road. We drove to Kearsarge for dinner at The Hut, went to church, and enjoyed muffins and a Keweenaw mining DVD before retiring.

The next morning, Steve and Pastor Eric went out to our property for a little target practice. They also took a golf cart ride in the woods, stopped at the falls in Eagle River and Pastor Eric did some rock hunting on Five Mile Point Road. Yes, they took some rocks back to Saginaw. We’ve all done it! Their stay was brief, but we crammed a lot of activity into it. We had a wonderful time sharing the Keweenaw with our guests.

All is well in the Keweenaw.


  1. How wonderful Pastor Eric and Ruth were able to visit you! You sound like an A 1 tour guide! The pictures are all great nad looks like a good time was had by all. Love the storm cloud pictures...very eerie!

  2. It's so much fun to share the beauty of God's creation in the Keweenaw with our friends. We had a wonderful time with P.E. and Ruth. Remember, the same tour is available to you and Duane anytime! P.S. The storm clouds don't seem eerie to us; we think they're quite beautiful.


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