We’ve met many interesting people on our strolls around Copper Harbor & Lake Fanny Hooe Campground. There’s been the ladies from Duluth, MN traveling with a granddaughter. They enjoyed hearing of the delightful experience we had with their hometown minor league baseball team, the Huskies. The young 1800’s period Army re-enactor from Dallas, TX who fell in love with the brisk fresh air of northern MI & stayed. The WI sheepherders we met in town while walking Tucker. They were still grieving the loss of their beloved Golden the previous week. We met fellow Escapee members Tom & Mary who are full timers from TX. They’ve been living on the road for 5 years & loving every moment of it. Then there was Gary & Karen from WI who were camped next to us. They traded in their sailboat for a motorcoach. They are considering becoming full timers too & spent the better part of a day picking our brains for information about the lifestyle. We thought that was funny as we are still learning as we go. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were in their shoes & full of questions.
Fort Wilkins State Historic Park, located on a strip of land that runs between the shores of Lake Superior & Lake Fanny Hooe was an Army post built in 1844 to keep law & order amongst the rowdy miners as well as to protect the copper barons interests against the Indians. An endeavor that was never really needed due to the Treaty of La Pointe between the local Ojibwas, Chippewas & the federal government & the miners proving themselves to be law-abiding citizens.
The fort consisted of 27 structures that included a guard house, a powder magazine, officers quarters, barracks, mess halls, a hospital, sutler’s store, stables, blacksmith shop, bakery & icehouse. When war was declared with Mexico, the 2 companies that were garrisoned at Ft. Wilkins, A & B of the 5th, were needed in Texas. The company K that replaced them were called into the Mexican War the following year. This left the fort temporarily abandoned in 1846.
After the Civil War, the U.S. Army reoccupied Ft. Wilkins from 1867-1870 to allow enlisted men to serve out their time. In August of 1870 it was permanently abandoned.
Across from the fort on the shores of Lake Superior sits the Copper Harbor Lighthouse on one of Keweenaws’ finger points. In this little harbor area lies the shipwreck of The Astor. A schooner, built in the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) by John Jacob Astor & his American Fur Trading Company. It brought miners & missionaries to the peninsula & much needed supplies to the troops at Ft. Wilkins. It sunk just off shore in Sept. 1844.
One of the more oddball but popular tourist attractions up here is The Snow Stick, a snow thermometer that keeps track of how many feet of that fluffy white stuff falls each winter in Calumet. The record snowfall was in the Winter of 1977-78 when 390.4 inches of snow fell, that’s more than 32 feet!! Last year’s snow total was a mere 26 feet. The average annual amount on the Keweenaw is more than 240 inches. These Yoopers are hardy people, eh?
Another oddball attraction is the Singing Sands Beach of Bete Grise, pronounced Bay-ta Gree. It means Grey Beast in French. This beautiful mile long sandy beach on Keweenaw’s southern shore is said to have a magical property. When you place your palm upon the surface & rotate it, the sand will “resonate with a wonderful sound like the ancient Indian maiden that sings out to her betrothed across the Lake Gitchee Gumee.” Sounds romantic doesn’t it? Well let me tell you, I tried the palm rotation fast, I tried it slow, I tried it on wet sand, I tried it on dry, I tried it all up & down the beach. The only sound I heard was that of the gulls laughing at me & my efforts as they swooped & soared overhead.
As we crossed the peninsula to the town of Eagle River on the northern shore, we made a quick stop in the once booming mining town of Phoenix at Church of the Assumption. The church was built in 1858 as St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the nearby town of Cliff. In 1899, the church was dismantled & reconstructed in its present location & the name was changed. Masses were held in the church until 1957. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It still is used for weddings & memorial services.
Whereas southern Bete Grise Bay had been calm, sunny & inviting, the northern shore was choppy, windy, & much cooler. The difference was amazing.
We stopped to view the Eagle River Falls & the historic wooden truss-style bridge that spans the river. Next on our route, Jacob Falls which lies within walking distance of a favorite bakery of ours, The Jampot. Of course we JUST HAD TO pay it a visit too. The monks were just removing some fresh blueberry muffins from the brick oven. We couldn’t resist. We purchased 2 for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.
An elderly local that Don met while fishing told him about a gem of a little-visited spot named Hunters Point. The Point is another one of the craggy, rocky fingers that reach out into Lake Superior. It has a hiking trail that loops around the point so off the 3 of us headed into a dense forest with the scent of pine hanging heavy in the air. Mmm, how I love that aromatic smell! We clambered over tree roots & beds of loose rock, crossed wooden footbridges over swamp & savored every second of our hike. The north loop took us by unique rock formations & rock strewn shoreline rich with agates while the south loop led us near the gentle lapping waters of a sheltered cove.
Soon it was time to return to the Suite Pea. Time for dinner & an evening with our Boys of Summer, the Detroit Tigers.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………..