Sep 21-08

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2008: September: Sep 21-08
View from the Cliffs    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by David Antikinen

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, September 21, 2008 - 09:01 am:

We had some fun gathering photos around the Cliff area for today's Pasty Cameo, and here's one that I think was left out, by David Antikinen, looking down on Phoenix. This lofty view has always been a favorite of mine, and one of my own earliest shots on the Pasty Cam was from here shortly after this daily feature began in 1998.

Fall is in the air here in the U.P., as it got down to freezing last night in some areas. Like someone mentioned yesterday, it is my favorite season, too, and I look forward to each day's picture this colorful time of the year.

Have a good week :o)
Paul Oesterle (Paulwebbtroll) on Sunday, September 21, 2008 - 09:06 am:

Wow! Freezing. It is in the fiftys here in the southern LP. Isn't Monday the first day of fall?

By Barbara Whiteside (Bobbeo60) on Sunday, September 21, 2008 - 09:12 am:

What a tranquil scene today on the cam.....thanks for sharing. Here in southern IN we need that tranquility after coming off hurricane force winds last Sunday that did a nice job of bringing down lots of trees, limbs and branches into our streets and homes. Still many without power, schools will resume after a week off...maybe....some may still be using generators for power just to get the kids back before missing another week. The national news and AP reports had the storm going from IL to OH skipping over southern IN without a report on problems here....sort of like the UP at times....even our own Governor was not responding to the situation. So come November just for meanness, I'm writing in the name of the KY Governor who was on the spot soon as the winds died down helping out our near neighbors to the south of the Ohio River, while ours made political speech for his re-election. always thanks for the pictures that make like a pleasant view and the tranquility of my safe place, the Upper Peninsula.

By Sconie (Sconie) on Monday, September 22, 2008 - 02:55 pm:

Nice video, however, the statements relative to Sam Hill and the Military Road are absolutely incorrect.

If you check the facts out, you will find that the Fort Wilkins to Fort Howard Military Road wasn't even authorized by the U. S. Congress until March 3, 1863, and that its construction occurred between approximately 1865 and 1871. Do a "Google" on it and check it out for yourself.

If Sam Hill was surveying in the area in 1855 it was most likely for the "Copper Harbor to Portage Lake Road," which ran along the coast, via Agate Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Cliff." Otherwise, I suspect the only other possibility would for it to have been a surveying project for what, a few years later, would be known as the Mineral Range State Road.

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 10:25 am:


As with all of our Cameos, this one was based on solid research, not just conjecture, as your last paragraph suggests. The Military Road was proposed in 1855, when Samuel Hill began surveying for it. The project was finally approved in 1863, and a commission was named, with Samuel W. Hill being one of three commisioners. Here are recaps of this information from two sources (though there are many more if you 'Google it'):

A survey conducted in 1855 to plot a military road between Green Bay and the newly built Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor revealed only a bridle path existed between Ontonagon and the Douglass-Houghton mine. To the north a 20 mile foot path was the only route to what would later become Painesdale. From there to Houghton was a trail described as a winter road . The Houghton mine, along with the neighboring Indiana and Bohemian Mining companies, found it difficult to make a profit within this primitivetransportation network.The Civil War would change all that.

After sitting in Washington for eight years, a bill proposing the construction of a military road became more important with the onset of the war. President Lincoln signed the bill in 1863 just as Lee was moving into Pennsylvania. Construction of the road was performed by several groups all working different sections. It was still only a three- season road for 50 years after its construction the road was never passable in Spring or during heavy rains.

The Douglass-Houghton Mine, Kevin E. Musser, 1996

Shortly before the Civil War, the government authorized the construction of a military road. This road was to connect Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor with Fort Atkinson down in mid-Wisconsin. Like most government projects of those days, it was to be financed by land grants. August Coburn, John McKernan, and Samuel Hill were selected as the commissioners or prime contractors for the Copper Country portion of the road. They were to receive four sections of land for each mile of road they completed. These sections were to be selected from a three-mile-wide strip along either side of the roadway.

Because the route chosen was not a direct one, it was once hinted that if the eventual road seemed a bit winding, it might have been because the land was selected first, "following copper lodes willy nilly", thus the road that was built to embrace these lands should reflect the nature of the surrounding land. Of course the official explanation said it was deemed permissible for the road to be laid for the convenience of the mines. The mines were by no means in a straight line. Be this as it may, the commissioners promptly subcontracted the work, giving the subcontractors one section of land for each mile of roadway they built. Then they, so it was said, "got busy mining the other three!"

Michigan's Copper Country,Ellis W. Courter, re-published by the State of Michigan, Office of Geological Survey, 2005

By the way, the complete text of Ellis Courter's book can be downloaded at the Michigan DEQ website. It is a great overview of the entire Copper Mining era. Mr. Courter died in 1979, but his manuscript was published on the web in 2005.
Sconie (Sconie) on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 02:32 pm:

I am sure that your intent is to provide good information to your viewers, however, unfortunately, the issue is getting confused. Specifically, you (&/or at least one of your sources) are "talking" about the wrong "Military Road."

The Military Road between Fort Howard (Green Bay) and Fort Wilkins (Copper Harbor) entailed land grants to the States of Michigan and Wisconsin. That road was first proposed, not in 1855, but rather, even earlier, 1846, when Fort Wilkins was still an active military installation. After the legislation authorizing this road was passed by the federal government, it was then necessary for the State of Michigan to accept it, which Michigan did, accepting the grant on Feb 4, 1864, at which time they appointed, ".....John Senter of Keweenaw County, John H. Forster of Houghton County and William E. Dickinson of Ontonagon County to lay out and establish the most eligible route for the road....."

Sam Hill was involved, in Keweenaw County, (of course, Keweenaw County didn't even exist---wasn't broken off from Houghton County----until 1861) in helping to lay out the Mineral Range State Road in the 1850's; this road ran from Copper Harbor along the Mineral Range, down to Rockland, and then to Ontonagon. (Modern day Cliff Drive was the route of the Mineral Range State Road and this was also the exact same route which was used by John Senter in laying out the Ft. Wilkins-Ft. Howard Military Road. Then too, as an aside, the Mineral Range State Road was, proverbially, the "Road to Rockland;" it went right through Calumet----the original "main street" of Calumet was not Calumet Avenue, but rather, the next street over, Rockland Street----figuaratively, "the Road to Rockland". Next time you are driving through Calumet on US 41, notice how the highway "veers" away from and then back to, the original route of Rockland Street, on either end of Calumet).

Hill was a "Commissioner" for what was called the "Wausau to Ontonagon Military and Postal Road," which the federal government authorized in 1864----this road was later extended, first to Fort Winnebago (Portage, WI) Wisconsin, and then, later, to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Fort Atkinson is located SE of Madison, Wisconsin; it is directly south of Wausau (and Ontonagon), and is no where near Green Bay.

Michigan had more than a dozen "Military Roads," more than any other state. Confusion as to "which road was which," much less where each one ran, is very, very common. And, such is especially the case relative to the two "Military Roads" which connected the U. P. to Wisconsin.

By RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 09:23 pm:

Charlie's account (and Cameo) have more credibility, citing identifiable sources that agree about the military road, and speak of Sam Hill's role. While Sconie's folksy narrative is almost equally as entertaining, no sources are cited. (Nice conjecture about Rockland Road in Calumet.) Sconie's original assertion - "the statements relative to Sam Hill and the Military Road are absolutely incorrect" - appears to be a bit dogmatic and perhaps unjustified.

By Sconie (Sconie) on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 09:12 am:

Gosh, it's certainly not a very good use of time---for anyone of us----to get into some type or form of "internet" or "blog" dispute. Plus, I really doubt that very many people----(may be absolutely no one!)----really cares about this issue.

That said, does it really make sense to anyone----either you, Charley, or you, RD-----that Sam Hill would have been out surveying a road----supposedly the "military road"-----in 1855-----8 or even 9 years before the road was even authorized? If you just stop and think about that----just for a minute----there should be a little flag going up in your head saying, "Wait a minute----that's right----that just doesn't make any sense."

If either of you would care to send me/email me your mailing address-----or call me here at my office----715.355.3641----I'd be glad to send you some accurate information as to where the 'Fort Howard to Fort Wilkins Military Road' ran----when it happened-----and who made it happen. But folks, I'm afraid that Sam Hill just had absolutely nothing to do with it.

By RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 12:01 pm:

Sconie - You might want to contact the State of Michigan and set them straight about the facts, because the DEQ website explicitly states (page 60) that Samuel Hill received grants of land for his role in the Military Road from Fort Wilkins to Wisconsin, for which he served as a prime contractor.

It certainly does make sense that Sam Hill could have been on the Cliffs scoping out a future military road in 1855 when the legislation was first proposed, if - according to your previous post - such a road had already been discussed in 1846. Sam Hill's foresight and business sense was probably exactly what put him in line to serve as a commissioner on the project, according to the same State of Michigan website.

To say that "Sam Hill just had absolutely nothing to do with it", does not square with other historical evidence.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 01:08 pm:

While ducking the "Military Road" crossfire, I have to ask, re The Douglass-Houghton Mine, Kevin E. Musser, 1996:

Q1: Where exactly was the Douglass-Houghton Mine?
       That's one I've actually never heard of. (!?)
According to the U.S. Geological Survey it was an underground copper mine located near Winona in Ontonagon County, consisting of 4 shafts, 1 adit, and 6 levels. Began as the Douglass Houghton Mine in 1846 and continued until 1864, at which time the mine was sold to Henwood Mines Corporation which closed the mine 1865. It had produced approx. 150,000 lbs. of refined copper.

Q2: Where can I find Kevin's book?
It's not a book, it's an essay on the website by the late Kevin Musser posted in 1996.

My on-line search has turned up no hits on either the mine or the book!
A Google search on 'Douglass-Houghton mine' turns up 2,020 resulting links

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 02:03 pm:

I agree with RD, as a successful entrepreneur Samuel Hill no doubt put a lot of thought and energy into the process involving the land grants associated with the Military Road, long before the Act of Congress. It is perfectly reasonable that Hill could have stood on the same 'Albion Rock' on top of the Cliffs where John St. John had stood in 1846. (As detailed in his book "A True Description of the Lake Superior Country"). My point in suggesting that Samuel Hill "most likey stood at this same spot a decade later" was to contrast the two men: St. John waxing eloquent at such an awesome panorama and Sam Hill with his notoriously gritty self expression.

By the way, you can download a complete photocopy of St. John's book at the Google Books website.


FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 02:29 pm:

"… it was an underground copper mine … in Ontonagon County …"

That figures, I am a whole bunch less familiar with the Ontonagon County mines than those in Houghton & Keweenaw counties!

"It's not a book, it's an essay on the website by the late Kevin Musser posted in 1996."

I though that might have been the case, just failed to follow up on that. (And I thought I was thoroughly familiar with all of Kevin's huge website. Just goes ta show ya!)

"A Google search on 'Douglass-Houghton mine' turns up 2,020 resulting links."

So it does — today (The first hit today was dead on! — and all I got yesterday was a bunch of false, irrelevant hits! (!?)

Thank you, blue text-person (Probably Charlie — Mary usually signs her blue text notes.) <grin>

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