Apr 06-08

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2008: April: Apr 06-08
Quincy Smelter    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Quincy Smelter Association
Industrial history    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Quincy Smelter Association

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 07:43 am:

Our expansion into "Pasty Cameos" to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this feature, has certainly been a learning experience here at Pasty Central - and for me personally. Researching "Day in History" has been an enlightening experience about the U.P. and its role in so many aspects of our nation's past. Along the way we are receiving contacts from individuals and organizations who see this medium as a resource for telling their story. One such organization - with a well defined mission - is the Quincy Smelter Association, which provided the pictures and write-up for this week's Cameo.

We realize there is always a land-use balance between the need for progress and economic growth, and the need to set aside certain parcels to preserve history. The Ripley smelter area on Portage Canal is one such parcel caught in this balancing act. As you can see from the slide show, there is a great deal of deterioration, but also a critical mass of useable, restorable structures with the potential of becoming a vital display of Copper Country history.

A special thank-you to David Rheault for passing along the materials to tell this story. We welcome participation from others here in the U.P. who have historical news of interest for visitors of Pasty Central.

Have a good week :o)

By DEAN SCHWARTZ SR. (Lulu) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 07:55 am:

I look foward to Sunday's , the pictures are so intersting.

By allen philley (Allen) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 08:08 am:

Very nice Charlie. I hope this association can be successful. The Quincy smelter complex is as important as any other piece of this Copper Country History/Heritage puzzle. I would not want it to become the "missing" link. I am glad they are going to give it a try to preserve and clean up what they can. I know that to save and preserve ( what some call eye sores)that a complete clean up and sanitization is required. Personally I would prefer to be able to visit all the past copper related sights such as the Quincy properties as it was at shut down when the men walked away for the last time.

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 08:42 am:

The cameo won't play for me today. I've never had a problem in the past....I wonder what's up???

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 09:24 am:

hopefully, the mess can be cleaned up and made to look a bit more attractive.

When I used to visit Houghton, I would stay at the Franklin Square Inn...think its a Best Western now. They always ask if you want street side or lakeside room and charge an addtional $10 to stay on the lakeside. Unfortunately, the lakeside view is of that smelter complex, and it is truly an eyesore, especially considering the beauty of the rest of the area.

On the other hand, preserving the history is an important task. I always try to see the old buildings in my mind when I drive through my hometown of Chassell. They are mainly gone. All the old buildings on the west side of Houghton near the lake, and even the old stores and bars in downtown Houghton...gone.
All the mills in the Lake Linden, Tamarack, Hubbell area ... gone...
And everywhere you go.

So what is more important...the beauty of nature, which brings a lot of tourism to the area, or the history ? If done correctly, hopefully both can be enhanced.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 10:27 am:

I'm with David. I do consider these old buildings to be eye sores. However, I don't want them gone, just fixed up and preserved so others can enjoy the history. I would like to see many of the trees cut down along the road as they're blocking the view of the lakes. It's not as beautiful a drive as it used to be.

Here's hoping they can come up with a compromise to fix these buildings and actually make use out of them.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 12:04 pm:

Just have to add my 2-cents; I think that the history of the area brings in more tourism than the beauty [not that that's not important], but you can see beauty all across the U.P. and northern Wisconsin and a lot of other areas of the country. However there are not too many places as rich in history as the copper country. Well worth preserving.

By Koke (Pjk3000) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 12:53 pm:

What a shame, the way some talk about our history, the history of our fathers, mothers, Grandfathers, and Grandmothers. If the people who run this great country and the nay Sayers out there would pay more attention to what has happened in our past we would not be in the trouble we are in today. We never learn from the past....we just keep doing the same thing over and over. If we look back at history we would know our country has gone through similar times as now and we as Americans have pulled through. Saving that smelter "IS" a good thing and should be completed as soon as possible. This project will bring needed cash to the Houghton, Hancock, and Ripley areas and all of the U.P. Cash that is badly needed. The money needed to complete this project will come from private funding and I would think there will be a small amount of public money involved. I for one will help the Quincy Smelter Association any way I can, may not be allot be it will be something. I left my beloved Copper Country 30 some years ago, but I still call that area home. By the way the Quince mine area was an "eyesore" a few years ago too. If we fix this area up people will want those lake side rooms. I would like to tell my old friend Glenn Ekdahl to keep up the hard fight for the smelter. By the way, the last time I looked this is still a free country and any can leave at any time, but we are entitled to our opinions and I can respect that. I for one would move back "home" in a minute if I could, snow and all. God bless America and God bless the Copper Country.

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 01:57 pm:

hey there Koke..you need to read my post again. I didn't say anything about tearing the stuff down, but to make it attractive enough to stay. As it is, it is not all that great to look at and does nothing to enhance the area. As it is, it is a blight on the area. Historically important, without a doubt.

Fix it up, make it look as good as the Quincy mine, and you have something.

I, too, would move back to the CC, I left in 1968 to pursue work....find me a job. That's the reason I left, to work, although that time of my life, I wanted to get out of that area, maybe see the big city, plus Vietnam was looming over my head, so I had to do something besides odd and end jobs with no hope of much of a future.

The chances of a young person starting out to find a job up there aren't too good. I would venture to say, most of the people that left didn't really want to, but were forced so they could raise their families and feed them.

I've been all over the US and some foreign countries. All areas have certain benefits, and their tourist traps, but the Copper Country is one of the most beautiful and prestine places in the country. The simple, slow-paced lifestyle, may not be too attractive to a teenager, but takes on a whole new meaning after you age a bit, become a bit more wise, and realize the bright lights are not what is really important.

When growing up, I didn't understand all that our parents went through to make a living. I realized that it wasn't the easiest place in the country to make a go of it, but as a kid, you knew you had food and a place to live. The historical aspects were not talked about much. The mines, smelters, and all that were a normal everyday thing. They were there...people worked there. It was a job and a way to live. How many poeple left when the mines closed? 2/3 of the population?

Now, when I look back, I understand more about what was going on. I understand a lot better the hardships that my parents, relatives, and friends went through to eck out a living. I see the significance of what was once there. The economical and sentimental side. The historical significance of the area, of the people. I see it every day when I visit this site. Its extremely important to preserve that heritage and lifestyle, be it by pictures, passed down words, or preserved structures, maybe even in the food, such as the pasty.

I miss the CC as much as anybody and try to get back as often as possible. It is my home, and I still considerate it that. Right now, my mom is in a nursing home and should be going home soon after rehab for a fall. There is a very great possibility that she will need to move in with one of us, or assisted living facility, or similar. She will need to sell her house, which my dad built, where we grew up, and where she has lived since 1952. Home. Selling the place feels like a dagger through my heart. Its what my dad and mom lived for..to have a decent place to raise a family. The land around there has been part of the family for a couple of generations. I don't want to see my home in Chassell be gone. My roots are there and in that area.

As I said in my previous post, I can see the old buildings in my mind when I drive around. I wish others could see them so they could understand the history of the area. See the people from the mining days. Understand their life and spirit, their sufferings and triumphs.

It is through the historical buildings and preserved areas that this is accomplished. I understand this.

BUT..the CC is also one of the most beautiful, natural areas, probably in the world. It is pristine. A lot of the old mining areas are even grown over to the point a visitor would have no idea of what went on right before their eyes. This aspect of the area needs to be enhanced and advertised as well, and is probably the most lasting resource the area will ever have, and what can draw the most people to enhance the area economically.
The recreation aspect of the CC is what can keep money flowing in. History is important, but people need to eat as well, and utilizing what mother nature gives free of charge makes a lot of sense.

If the industrial areas can be set up to blend into the natural surroundings without underminig what most people that visit there want to experience, by all means try to preserve them, but in my opinion, there is nothing worse than to go to an area and see falling down buildings, junk all over, and areas that look like they should be bulldozed over and trees planted. It is not attractive. Go to Buffalo New York, or Toledo, or Flint...sure , all that is historically significant, but whn I drive through there it makes me want to speed up. The term for it is urban blight. It brings no tourists, and very few folks want to go there for site-seeing.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 05:45 pm:

Amen to that, Davesou. Eloquently and sincerely put. You sure can
feel the love for the UP in so many of these posts.

By Koke (Pjk3000) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 08:27 pm:

David Soumis, I didn't mean to offend you. If I did I am sorry. I guess I was referring more to the posts on the Whatís Up page. I to left the area years ago for work and you mentioned Vietnam, I lost my brother in that war. Any way I guess I forgot the wonderful people who live in the Copper Country and try to make a good living for them selves. It would be nice to see industry come back there but Iím afraid that will not happen unless the copper price goes through the roof. Then I am afraid all the beauty would be lost to strip mining. That would be the only cost effective way to get the copper out. I donít think any of us want to see that. This was a good discussion, stirred up some emotion.

By Grace M Wetton (Gmw) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 08:59 pm:

Excuse me, but I have a right to voice my opinion!

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 11:35 pm:

Yes, we all have the right - not only to voice our opinions - but to do something about it. Have you read the Quincy Smelter Association's mission statement?

Our mission is to provide financial support for the preservation and renovation of the Quincy Smelter Site; to provide opportunities rich with the cultural heritage and vitality of our mining history to peoples of all age groups; to preserve our traditional knowledge of: arts, science, skills, and histories and promote these concepts and ideas, across the generations; and through this, be dedicated in building community strength between residents, visitors and volunteers.
Time will tell whether this group will be successful in their effort. I can understand if a person is of a different opinion, and perhaps feels that the complex should be bulldozed and turned into a park. But may I suggest that either extreme in the discussion is counter-productive: whether to label the preservation effort as 'the most ridiculous thing' (see What'sUP) or to villanize others who may hold a different point of view.

When all is said and done, a lot more is 'said' than 'done'. I appreciate the need for priorities in choosing the causes one supports. But I also appreciate the folks who have devoted their time and energy in this preservation effort, and felt that it was a story worthy of telling in this forum.
Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Monday, April 7, 2008 - 07:41 am:

David S., you make me proud to be your cousin. That is exactly how I feel. I don't want them torn down either, but made to look decent, the way they did with some of the buildings in Hubbell. There's just nothing to add to your post. You said it all.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Monday, April 7, 2008 - 07:52 am:

Actually Koke, strip mining would never work to pull the copper out of the ground in the Keweenaw. The copper today is a mile deep and no mining company out there is going to remove a mile of rock overburden to get to the copper; much more cost effective to use shafts as in the old days. However, with pumping costs and stabilization needed to make mining safe, that too would cost millions.

Don't worry Charlie, it was a great story and topic to tell in the forums, and everyone does have a right to their own opinions one way or the other. To the first time visitor (or appearently long time resident as well) the smelter could be viewed as an ugly eyesore. To others, it can mean a symbol of what put the Keweenaw on the world map of industrial power. There is great potential at the smelter. Yes, it will take a lot of money and manpower to restore the smelter, no doubt about it. I for one would much rather see the smelter (preferably restored back to its glory) than an overpriced highrise condominium complex that honestly, benefits no one living there except for a select few.

I'm sure there are plenty of people that share that same thought.

By Walter P McNew (Waltermcnew) on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 - 05:13 pm:

according to ford history is bunk lets hear it folks.======i remain walter p

By Bob Jewell, Farmington Hills (Rjewell) on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 - 10:37 pm:

Remember Ford built Greenfield Village and the Ford Museum. He obviously was a believer in saving items from the past. The "history is bunk" quote is usually taken out of contex. What he said was "History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's •••• is the history that we make today."

By Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 07:57 pm:

This archive discussion page is closed to new comments, see the current Pasty Cam.