July 14-08

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2008: July: July 14-08
Tobacco River    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Donna MacIntosh
Superior shoreline    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Cindy Freeman
The Gay Bar    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Cindy Freeman
Old School    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Cindy Freeman

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 06:26 am:

If you're heading to or back from Lac La Belle or even Copper Harbor and you'd like to take a "road less traveled", then take the highway along the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, bordering Lake Superior. Either way, it will take you right through the little town of Gay and you'll get to see some interesting sights. Just a little way out of Gay, you'll cross this bridge in the first photo from Donna MacIntosh. This spans the Tobacco River, which in turn flows right into Lake Superior. I remember as kids swimming in the mouth of the river, just before it joins the Big Lake, it was always warmer than Superior's waters. Continuing on, you'll see lake shore views all along this highway, like the second photo, taken by Cindy Freeman. Don't you just love the deep pink flowers silhouetted against the rocks and stones?

But in the town of Gay itself, you'll pass by the "famous" Gay Bar, where most everyone either passing through or staying for awhile, has to stop for a photo-shoot by the Gay Bar sign. You'll also drive past the Old Gay School. I don't think you're able to go inside for a look, but wouldn't that be fun if it was open to the public, maybe as a museum of sorts? (These last two photos were also submitted by Cindy)

Yes, Gay is just a small little dot on the map, but it is served by Pasty.NET wireless broadband, and there's some interesting history there. Plan to take some time on your way through next trip and explore the area.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 06:51 am:

Oh the Gay Bar!!! A snowmobiling destination!!! Also has a collection of unique t-shirts on sale.

By D. Clark (Dcclark) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 07:20 am:

The Gay Bar has an almost unique item: a Live Bait vending machine! I never before imagined I could get nightcrawlers from a vending machine.

By John Preisler (Jpreisler) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 07:21 am:

The Gay Bar has Guinness on their beer list, for those of us who have a tough time finding a Stout north of the bridge...

The other landmark in Gay is the smokestack from the stamp mill.

The drive from Lac La Belle through Gay to Mohawk is beautiful. The leeward side of the Peninsula has a slightly different personality than the M-26 side. Lots more sand, and not as hilly. But still every bit The Copper Country :)

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 08:21 am:

I'm with you, John. I love that drive. I do wish you could see more of the lake, though. Too many darn trees anymore. Of course, from Gay to Mohawk there isn't a lake to see anyway, but I love it once you get to Brunette Park coming from Gay. And when in LacLaBelle, don't forget to visit Bete Grise.

By allen philley (Allen) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 08:41 am:

I wish that someone would by the Gay school. Convert the upstairs to apartments and the down stairs for a community center. It is a shame how most of these schools go to waste. Some one please take this idea and run with it. Call it a revitalization project and go for funding to support it.

By Jeff Kalember (Jeffkal) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 09:13 am:

Amen Allen !! That's the first thing i thought when i saw that school - what a cool building for apartments or a store or a ... But, i'd imagine the economy in Gay gets pretty slow in march/april/may - maybe not enough to support it? Anyway, i agree also that the drive north from Gay along the shore is great, totally different than being along the other side of the peninsula.

By Mike B. Wishin I was back in the Yoop (Mikeb) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 09:40 am:

Alot of people thinking the same thing I was. As soon as I saw that pic of the school, I thought "that would be a great place to live". Hmmm, I wonder whom one might contact to inquire about the Gay School.

By Gustaf O. Linja (Gusso) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 10:17 am:

About the Gay school: I wonder who owns it and how much it would cost to purchase it? It would be nice to see it restored and used in some way.

By Theresa R. Brunk (Trb0013) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 10:32 am:

I like the sign on the highway, just before the hill going into Gay that reads 'slow Gay ahead' I took a picture of that and use it for a desk top on my 'puter often :P

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 10:34 am:

That ride is pretty in the winter too.

By Kim (Kim) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 10:48 am:

The Gay Bar is a perfect place to stop on your way back from the Harbor for something to drink and for their Onion Rings. Also they have a best Juke Box in the UP

By kay Moore (Mskatie) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 11:04 am:

Deb you answered my question I was going to post. The Brunette Park is named after my mother's uncle Oliver. Some of my geneological papers show the family's name as Burnette but should realy be spelled this way. I never met Uncle Oliver but he was quit active in the town esp. with the young people I understand. Will be a high point of my next trip to CC some day hopefully soon.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 11:17 am:

Every time the Dr. and I return to the Keweenaw, one of the must do things is a trip to Gay. We always make our stop at the Gay Bar, order a LaBatts each, shoot a game of pool or 2, and fire up the jukebox to play just one song; "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke. Ahhh, what fond memories.....

I'll come back later today to explain what makes the east side so unique about the Keweenaw. Right now, I'm trying to get caught up before I leave Thursday.

By Grace M Wetton (Gmw) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 11:26 am:

Oh yea, the famous Gay Bar. Stopped there a few times in the past for a couple cool libations with the family.

By sarah stuck in ohio (Sarahp) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 12:10 pm:

Where's Uncle Chuck? I expected a comment from him on the topic! Nothing like playing games and drinking pop at the Gay Bar and then heading across the street to the playground when I was younger. Also, the good old town of Gay meant we were almost to Little Betsy!

By Uncle Chuck @ Little Betsy (Unclechuck) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 12:52 pm:

Sarah, wish we were there right now and heading to LB afterwards. Boy do I have stories about the Gay Bar! College days etc.. but we won't go there. Only 9 miles to Little Betsy from Gay, use to do alot of fishing in the Tobacco river in my younger years with cousins and uncles and my brother Mike as well.

Mary, now I really need to get U.P. there! Thanks for the pics!

Mary says: You are most welcome Uncle Chuck! Hope you can make the trip UP here soon. Don't forget to let me know if you do! :->

By Tim Landini (Tlandini) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 01:45 pm:

I think the school is owned by private investing group. Atleast, that is the last time I dealt with the school a couple of years ago. One of the owners was replacing the broken window panes. Some of the wooden floors and cabinetry was salvaged and sold for the needed repairs (fixing broken windows, patching the roof...). There is some severe water damage to the back inside staircase. This was gutted and removed (watch your step!). The building footprint might be deceiving. The building is L-shaped and not square. You need to walk around the building to get the sense of the backside of the building.

The group I had dealt with had plans to convert the school into a hospitality/retail or light-intuitional function. If I remember correctly, the project didn't qualify for any restoration grants, especially associated with the national park in Calumet.

By Richard A. Fields (Cherokeeyooper) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 02:30 pm:

The sad thing about buildings like the old Gay school, is there are just so many of them, and they are expensive to rehabilitate. I have seen some communities have success rehabilitating old schools, but the obstacles are many. They were built before we worried about handicapped accesibility, asbestos, radon, and a host of other issues. When these buildings are converted into aprtments, or some other use, they must be brought up to standard, and unfortunately, often for the same price you can build a new building for less, without the maintenance headaches. It's sad to see, but sometimes these old buildings cannot be saved without great financial hardship.

By Eva Hopkins (Evah) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 02:58 pm:

I believe those dark pink flowers are fireweed, a wildflower of the north. I have been reading the Journals of Richard Proenneke who lived in Alaska in his hand crafted cabin (have you seen his story on PBS?). He uses fireweed greens for his salads and says they are great! -- Wonderful pictures! We hope to head north soon. You folks are lucky to live there. It is so crowded and noisy in many places now (and we live in the country).

By Dawn Peterson (Elvis) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 03:03 pm:

Heading up to Copper Harbor in two weeks and a stop of course to the Gay Bar... Does anyone know if The Pines Convenience Center in Baraga still has cheapest gas in town?

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 03:14 pm:

The Pines was $4.10 Saturday when I was heading home from Cedarville, Houghton is $4.19 today. So it wasn't as much savings as usual.

By Gus LL (Gusll) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 03:29 pm:

Back in March of 1965, Two of my friends , Bob Miller, Ken LaCass and I rode our snowmobiles to Gay from Lake Linden. I had a 1964 Arctic Cat Model 250, powered by a 10 HP. Kohler in the rear of the sled. Both my friends had Huski sleds. We rode the Copper Range Railroad grade witch is now the groomed trail. We saw no other snowmobile tracks along the way. Nothing but a few rabbit tracks. We crossed the old trestle near Copper City. We stopped at the Gay Bar for a rest and continued on to the Gay Park where we built a fire and had a lunch. We continued along the shoreline to Big Traverse and then to Rice Lake where we met our spouses. Whwt would now be a 3 to 4 hour jaunt, took us most of the day. I believe we were the 1st to run that trail by snowmobile. Carl

By Norma in Midland (Normainmidland) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 03:49 pm:

Uncle Chuck, Sarah.... Charlie and I will be going to LB the last week in July!! Can't wait. If we all get up there together we could have a night at the Gay Bar! Hope you guys can come up!!

By Danielle L. Adams (Badkid) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 04:30 pm:

The Pines is still the cheapest. Was $4.09 yesterday at 6pm coming through on the way back from Marquette. Everywhere else here is $4.19 and higher in the Houghton area. Dave's in Hancock is $4.29, so um, yeah depends where ya go. Paid $4.15 yesterday in L'Anse at the Holiday for gas, as they were the cheapest before hitting Baraga.

By Tim Holland (Tholland) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 08:32 pm:

I would like to see a time lapse camera pointed at the Gay Bar sign to see all of the people that pose in front of it with smirky grins over the course of the year. Probably countless.

By Jerry Lutz (Jerrylutz) on Monday, July 14, 2008 - 09:39 pm:

What can we do about the fuel prices? I guess nothing except pay it,so many people getting laid off from work,how can we make it? Lets get serious about this after all winter is on its way and how can anyone pay for fuel and still eat,pay bills,etc.i'm just getting fed up with it!

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 12:12 am:

Jerry write to the senators for Michigan and demand they do something. We get less back from the federal govt. then most states. I guess I can't say how poor our reps in congress are on this page.

By Danielle L. Adams (Badkid) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 12:31 am:

Yeah speaking of reps...I just saw Mike Lahti Friday too!! Think writing to him and Bart and Debbie would do any good? If anything I guess it's worth a try.

By Steve Haagen (Radsrh) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 01:08 am:

Here is a picture of the new Gay Bar sign, sorry it is so late but I had a lot of work to do tonight.


By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 06:24 am:

Nothing there Steve....

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 08:01 am:

I can't see it either!

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 12:41 pm:

Wow, they've replaced ye olde "Gay Bar" sign with one that reads:

"Your Image Here"?

Kent Belt (Kbelt) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 09:09 am:

The Gay School is owned by Sherman Township. I have heard there has been interest in the property by several groups including the Keweenaw Historical Society but nothing has ever materialized.

By John P. DuLong (Dulongj) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 10:42 am:

My wife and I just returned from visiting the Copper Country. We took our tandem with us and peddled up to Lac La Belle and Bete Grise from my sister's house in Hubbell. It was a great ride, over 80 miles. I had forgotten how beautiful that part of the Keweenaw is having not travelled it in over a decade. Going by bicycle you see a lot more than just speeding through in a car. And we get great mileage on the bike! It was also kind of neat pulling up to the Gay Bar, parking our tandem next to the motorcycles, and gonig in for a drink.

By D. Clark (Dcclark) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 10:51 am:

The bike ride along the Gay Lac La Belle road is one of my favorites. There are lots of scenic spots to stop and rest, plus it's extremely flat and fast. I highly recommend it for anyone into biking.

That, and Burnette Park is my favorite spot on the whole east coast!

By John P. DuLong (Dulongj) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 04:30 pm:

Burnette Park was indeed charming. We stopped there both going out and coming back.

This route is much flatter than others I can think of on the Keweenaw. The only challenge was the hill we hit after turning off Traprock road.

Three days before we rode to Lac La Belle we rode up to Copper Harbor along the lake shore. That too was a great ride. We only had to walk the tandem up the last hill to get to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. I have always been curious about staying there and we rented a cabin for a night. I recall my Dad telling me he had something to do with building the wall around the lodge during the WPA, hence my curiousity about the place.

The next day we peddled back on 41 and I found it easier going until we hit the hills just before Calumet. Going down the Calumet hill was a little tense because we did not want to pick up too much speed.

All in all, cycling on the Keweenaw was fun and we look forward to more of the same on our next visit. Perhaps we will peddle down to Freda next time.

By D. Clark (Dcclark) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 05:05 pm:


Any other good roadbike routes you can think of in the Keweenaw? I spend an awful lot of time on the Canal roads, 41 around Calumet, and sometimes the Gay-Lac La Belle road. Variety is the spice of life though, so I'd love to know any others you think are good.

By John P. DuLong (Dulongj) on Friday, July 18, 2008 - 10:40 am:

Sorry, but I am a novice when it comes to cycling on the Keweenaw. You have more experience on the roads there than I do.

By Orin M. Pelto (Pluto) on Friday, July 18, 2008 - 07:07 pm:

The Gay bar was one of my aunt and uncles favorite places for lunch. Of course if you lived in Gay there was not a whole lot of choice. After retireing from Detroit the moved back to Gay and then my uncle was in charge of keeping up with the water works in town. Their names by the way were Jim and Vevi Pelto. They are gone now but my cousin now owns their home. The last time we were there we noticed she has kept her parents names on the front of the house. I miss them to this day

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