Across the bay from Copper Harbor is still another lighthouse – the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. You can catch a ferry in town and take a boat trip across the bay, then walk around the area and see the exhibits.
We did not do this this time because we’ve done it before and it does cost money – $17.00 for adults/$12.00 for children. Which is reasonable, but time is also a factor, so we did not put it on our todo list.
However, there is a park (another state park) across from the Fort which gives you views of the lighthouse. Again, that whole do-you-live-in-Michigan thing is at work so you have to pay for a state park pass to park in the parking lot to see the lighthouse. So during our first ride to Copper Harbor, we couldn’t park in the park parking lot.
But now we had a day pass (from the Fort) and so we made use of it and parked and took some picture.
A beautiful June afternoon and Elizabeth and I both took lots and lots of pictures – so I’ll stretch them over a couple posts.
We drove back up to Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins – a fort where nothing ever happened.
(I remember being there was Ken and talking to one of the guides who was in period costume and role playing his part. The soldier said that his tour of duty was about finished at Fort Wilkins and he was heading out West to join those forces. Ken had quite a conversation with him, warning him against joining up with General Custer. The conversation was very funny.)
Anyhow – we had thought about visiting the fort a few days earlier, but were stopped at the gate with someone who said we had to pay quite a bit because we weren’t from Michigan (it’s a state park). That day had been rainy and so we decided to think about it – not wanting to pay to walk around in the rain.
Now we were back … the day was beautiful and I told her I used to live in Michigan. That didn’t work, but because we only wanted a day pass – I think it cost $9.00. Which was well spent.
WHAT: Fort Wilkins is on a natural harbor so when the copper rush of the 1840s happened, a lot of men from all over came to find their fortune. The government decided they needed a fort to control the supplies being shipped in and the copper being shipped out.
The fort was also built to keep peace between the miners and the local natives … however, the miners turned out to be rather law-abiding and the natives didn’t really care that they were there. The fort was used again after the Civil War to house soldiers who hadn’t completed their tour of duty.
But 27 first buildings were built on a beautiful piece of land.
And it is very well done.
WHERE: On the tip of the Keweenaw, outside of Copper Harbor. (Also a campground in the park.)
AND: I’m guessing they’ve recently renovated the fort because it’s very well done. Elizabeth and I were both impressed with the exhibits and thought they were cleverly put together and captioned. The grounds are well-kept and during the ten weeks of summer, there are guides in period costumes that role play their parts.
Here’s what Elizabeth wrote in her journal. “One of the first things we found that we thought was pretty cool, was they had some whites (you know, white laundry) hanging up on a clothes line except every “white” had one step of washing the laundry, So since they didn’t have washing machines, there were quite a few steps – I think about 8-10.
We also saw the blacksmith and bakery. I got to take a loaf of bread out of an oven with one of those giant paddle things. The rest of the rooms were cool, too. I even got to go inside an old jail cell.
At the library, one of the acting soldiers came up an talked to us. He said that they got around 25 sheep that weren’t supposed to be there and they had gotten away.
KID FACTOR: Most of the exhibits were kid friendly and there was a lot of room to run around. I would definitely recommend this to someone who is looking for something to do with the kids on the peninsula.
WHAT: Eagle Harbor Light is a still-working light house in the small town of Eagle Harbor – on the shores of Lake Superior. The road curves around the harbor giving many of the homes a beautiful view of the lake and the lighthouse. Originally a lighthouse was built here in 1851 – this one was a replacement built in 1871
WHERE: I’ve been to a lot of lighthouses that have been built on rocky cliffs or far out in the water which makes it difficult for people to visit them. Eagle Harbor is different. The lighthouse is located at the end of a residential street and is easy for anyone to access. We did go inside this time. I don’t remember doing that before. However, you cannot go up to the top, so that’s rather disappointing.
AND: Two smaller buildings are part of the structure. One in particular is interesting as it focuses on Great Lake shipwrecks. And the views alone, are worth the visit.
KID FACTOR: You can walk on the grounds, but to go inside you do have to pay. This was one of several places we visited, where E. got in free or for a reduced price because she’s not yet 13. (Missed it by a few weeks.) The cove is very cool and I have pictures of the kids there from several years ago and they had fun playing with the rocks. Older kids might like the shipwreck info as E. did.
I’m not sure many kids would be that excited about the inside of the lighthouse itself – just looks like someone’s house and not being able to go to the top kind of takes away any kid factor. But again, worth the visit because of the awesome views. Just being honest about the kid thing.
Down tree-lined and shore-hugging Highway 26 is The Jam Pot. You kind of need to know that it’s there, otherwise you might miss it.
But most people who have been to the Keweenaw KNOW and don’t MISS it.
The Jam Pot is right next to Jacob’s Falls. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Jam Pot when the small shop was empty. This year we tried muffins for the first time. They cost around $3.00 but are huge. Elizabeth chose a chocolate one and I chose a carrot cake muffin. We headed back to camp … and supper, so the muffins got left wrapped in the car. In fact, we didn’t eat them until two days later (on the way home) and they were sooooo moist and delicious. I truly wish I had bought more.
The jams, jellies and baked goods are made by the monks from the monastery across the road and most are made from local berries or fruit.
We went sunset searching … and our first night on the beach was one of those unusual nights – not sure we’ll ever see a sunset quite so unusual.
The night was cloudy. Cloudy often helps a sunset view but this was too cloudy and the sun was hidden when we first got there. We still took a couple pictures because the Lake Superior shore is always a photo op.
But then as the sun got lower, it completely disappeared except for a narrow strip along the horizon, looking like someone had turned on a narrow neon light.
We patiently waited. and suddenly we saw a tiny burst of sun just as it hit the horizon – but the even more unique aspect was the cloud cover on the right side (of picture), but the neon light effect on the left side.
AND: Ok, the day was cold, cloudy and rainy so maybe that made out brains cold, cloudy and rainy, too. Maybe in sunlight this museum is very nice, but for some reason it was looked rather dusty and dreary the day we were there. Parts of it made us smile – like the captions on some old pictures. “These people are happy – except for the man in the back.”
I told Elizabeth another display looked like a school project and then we saw that that’s exactly what it was – from many years ago.
To give the management the benefit of the doubt, several reviewers mentioned how nice, friendly and informative the tour guides were – but there were no tour guides in sight that day, so maybe that would’ve helped.
One intriguing exhibit was the electric therapeutic treatment machine,
One interesting thing was the sign explaining the machine and how the probes were placed in the body orifices.
One very scary thing was the rack of probes used in the machine to poke in the orifices of the body.
Don’t even think about it … Seriously.
KID FACTOR: My opinion – I don’t think this would be the best place to take kids … unless the tour guides are extremely kid friendly which they might be. Since we didn’t have one, I couldn’t tell you.
WHAT: The town of Copper Harbor – about 20-30 minutes from camp along a beautiful road (or if you choose to take the “other route” you have another beautiful road).
WHERE: Copper Harbor is located on the northern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula and is fairly active in the summer with people leaving on the Isle Royale Ferry, visiting Fort Wilkins, meandering through the shops or taking the shorter ferry out to the lighthouse. We’ve done the lighthouse tour before, but didn’t do it this time.
Once, several years ago, we were driving from camp to Copper Harbor and a bear dashed out in front of us – that was fun.
AND: Another trivia fact about Copper Harbor – Highway 41 ends there – in the woods. This is the same 41 that starts in Miami, Florida and winds its way north.
KID FACTOR: Lots of places for kids to run around – on the island by the lighthouse, on the grounds of the fort, etc.
But a big kid factor is the old-fashioned soda counter where we go every year for an ice cream soda.
If you’re ever on the Keweenaw Peninsula (which juts out into Lake Superior) – you have the choice of several different sites to see.
And we saw a lot of them.
WHAT: Brockway Mountain Drive is an 8.8 mile drive that leads up to the top of the mountain. It’s one of the highest spots between the Rockies and the Alleghenies. I’ve only been on the drive in the summer, but I’m guessing the autumn would be rather amazing, too.
WHERE: Near the tip of the Peninsula near Copper Harbor.
AND? As soon as we got to the top, I said to the munchkin – “There used to be a gift shop here.” She said, “I know, I bought a stuffed animal there last time we were here.” About four cars stopped right behind us and I declare the first words out of everyone’s mouth were, “Where’s the gift shop?” I think it was called Skytop Inn or something fancy for a tiny trailer, but whatever, it is no longer there.
The view is still worth is. You can see miles of trees – and lake from both sides.
KID FACTOR: A lot of places for kids to run around, but no gift shop to buy stuffed animals.