Feb 27-11

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2011: February: Feb 27-11
Fuse Factory Fire, 1957    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by  Donald Stevanus

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 08:10 am:

I have a confession to make. It was 1965, I was 13 at the time, and we were near the end of the long ride on a big yellow bus from Pontiac to Eagle River. Our destination was Camp Gitche Gumee. As we crossed the old bridge at Eagle River Falls, I remember one of our counselors pointing out the bank next to the dam, telling how there was a big fuse factory there that burned down 8 years earlier.

For the remainder of my teen years, I thought it was a factory where they made the kind of fuses you replace when the lights go out.

It wasn't until my college years, after having visited Eagle River every summer with our youth group, that somebody gave me clue as to the kind of "fuse" they made at that factory: the kind that burns all the way up to the dynamite. Wow. This gave a whole new perspective on that fire in 1957.

The man in the photo is John Kezele, chief of the Ahmeek Fire Department at the time. The photographer was Donald Stevanus, Airman Second Class of the 665th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron in Calumet. Airman Stevanus was just arriving for a visit in Eagle River on that fateful day in May of 1957, and happened to have his 35mm camera. Our thanks to the Michigan Tech Archives for preserving such glimpses of Copper Country history. Also thanks to Bill Haller for passing along the information (a guy who knows a lot about fuses and explosions.)

As we begin the 14th year of the Pasty Cam in March, we'll have more pictures and history of the fuse factory. If you have any photos from the period, please consider sharing them with us here on Shoebox Memories.

Have a good week :o)

By Donna (Donna) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 08:34 am:

Well, I'll be.....never knew there was a fuse factory in the Keweenaw....I know Senter in back of Dollar Bay had dynamite w/the Atlas Powder Company:

Interesting stuff! Thanks!

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 09:27 am:

I hope nobody was hurt in that fire.

By Joann Lahti (Packerbacker) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 11:06 am:

Hi Charlie, I was showing Howard this picture and he was sure John Schutte was Fire Chief at that time. Howard joined the dept in 1961. He also said maybe John s. could of been asst. chief, but knows Kezele quit the dept because he wasn't elected chief after Howard was on. Howard had 22 yrs on dept. then finished out at LacLaBelle dept before he retired with total of 45 yrs.

By Gary W. Long (Gary_in_co) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 11:15 am:

I am a professional firefighter, and looking at the size of the fire and the size of the firehose, this looks to me to be an exercise in futility. As valiant as his efforts may have been, there are times when you have to step back, accept the inevitable, and make sure everybody goes home safe. I hope they all did.

By Jim Nicholas (Jimn) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 11:16 am:


By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 12:39 pm:

How time rolls on
How things change
And how they don't

By Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 01:43 pm:

Gary...I was thinking the same thing, like trying to stop a leaking dam with a band aide. Definitely a valiant act of desperation.

By Wes Scott (Travelnorth) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 01:47 pm:

Yes that hose looks a bit too small but there is the power of positive thinking and how we must try even if it's futile. My Grandfather age 104 doesn't know the word no or can't. It's not in his mind, there is always a way. You make the effort and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Today I don't believe that same effort is made and perhaps it's way we have the mess we have in this country? Just thoughts! So the hose is a metaphor for we must try.....or else we always fail no matter what.

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 02:44 pm:

One of the volunteers here now proudly told me they hadnít lost a foundation to fire in the area yet. I have to say I believe him except where they used wood for the foundations, too.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 07:02 pm:

My father was a fire chief in lower MI and he proudly claimed that his department never lost a foundation either!! J

By Dale Beitz (Dbeitz) on Monday, February 28, 2011 - 08:47 am:

I grew up on a farm in the thumb of Michigan. I think it was the Unionville fire department that had an old 1930's era fire truck that they would use in parades and such. Affixed to it was a banner proclaiming them the "Basement Savers".

By JH (Thumbgardener) on Monday, February 28, 2011 - 09:57 am:

In our small community here in the thumb the saying is "we have a great fire department, they haven't lost a basement yet".

But all kidding aside, we appreciate our volunteer firemen.

By Morning Glory (Lucylu) on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 09:04 pm:

Charlie did you say you lived in Pontiac at one time? My family was from Hancock and then Pontiac. Did you know Paul and Janet Tourville?

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