May 08-02

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2002: May: May 08-02
Falls of the Keweenaw    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Paul Meier

By Paul Meier, visiting Eagle River on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 06:22 am:

Last week's Pasty Cam sent me for a quick search through the slide trays. Attached is a shot of the lower Hungarian Falls. This was made the 3rd week of May 1979. Not much has changed, note the Tech student just barely visible at the right edge of the Falls.

Also attached from the same trip is a photo of what is now called the Douglas Houghton Falls. The first time I visited these falls was about in 1961 or '62 with my Grandfather. At that time, if my memory isn't too far gone, the falls were named the Houghton - Douglass Falls, named for Douglas Houghton and his contemporary and fellow explorer Christopher C. Douglass. There was a sign at the "parking area" and trail to the falls. The sign remained thoughout the '60's but since the land and the falls are privately owned, the sign wasn't maintained. Eventually the sign was gone and along with it, the old name. The climb down to get this photo was a bit dangerous and in our present legal climate I don't blame the owner for closing the site.

Houghton-Douglass Falls

By Jim from Michigan on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 06:41 am:

The picture that you show is the middle falls. The lower falls are about 4 times this size. Does anyone have a picture of the lower falls

By Brian, Georgia on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 07:48 am:

I was a student at Tech in the early 70s and remember many hikes around the Douglas Houghton falls. One time a group of us snowshoed into the gorge. Going down was easy, a bit like skiing. Coming back up was a whole different story. As I recall, there was the start of a mining tunnel just to the right side of the falls. Not very interesting to explore but very dirty. Thanks for the shots. They bring back great memories.

By Roy TN on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 10:04 am:

Great pictures. I visited the Houghton Douglas Falls many times when I was growing up in Calumet. It is too bad that the falls are now unaccessible. With all of those naturalist groups now out in the Keweenaw I would think that this would be something that could be opened to the public.

By Patti on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 02:22 pm:

I, too enjoyed many walks to the Douglas Houghton Falls. It is beautiful. Many people are unaware that the Falls has always been private property. The owner has no obligation to open it to the public. I'm thankful I could visit it while I could.

However, I remember every year, someone attempting to scale the side of the falls, getting stuck, and needing to be retrieved by the rescue unit. Due to legal liabilities, and the erosion of so many people passing through on the trails, I dont' blame the owner for closing it. I would, too.

By RCW $ Bay on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 02:31 pm:

I can't understand why people keep refering to it as the Houghton Douglas Falls, seems to me the Sign read DOUGLAS HOUGHTON FALLS!!!!

By Irene, Wisconsin on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 03:28 pm:

OK, Douglas Houghton or Houghton Douglas, it's like the Calumet Hill (if you live in the vally) or the Lake Linden Hill (if you live in Calumet). Bottom line- we all know what you are talking about!

By Ladyyoop on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 07:05 pm:

Well...almost 3 decades ago, myself and 3 of my pals walked up to these falls...from the creek by the Lake Linden Drive-In!! What a tour that was. We walked in the water, on the bank, over the rocks, through the mud. Then, UP the side of the DH Falls! Holy wha man...what a hike! We were all so dirty and tired when we got done, but what a grand experience!

By Patti on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 07:44 pm:

I believe...(anybody out there a history buff)..that the falls were named after the explorer, Douglas Houghton..who was a geologist in the late 1800's....can anyone back me up?

By patron, Vancouver WA on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 08:25 pm:

Patti, Paul Meier explains it pretty good right under the picture. Take another peek.

By Kate, St. Paul on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 09:00 pm:

Douglass Houghton was the first state
geologist in Michigan. In 1841, he found
copper bearing rocks and published a report
noting the mineral wealth of the Keweenaw.
He urged development and mining started in
1844 in Copper Harbor.

By Kate, St. Paul on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 09:05 pm:

Ah Yes, Geology field camp (boot camp--we
commonly called it). We hiked and mapped
both these valleys. My wet boots got dried out
in the oven each night. Then back to another
creek the next day. Got to see some beautiful
area and get good and dirty.

By Mike, South Dakota on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 10:07 pm:

I remember seeing these falls in the early 50's with my aunts and my folks. Then saw them again in the early 80's - great memories!

By DAB on Thursday, May 9, 2002 - 12:19 am:

I went to the falls in 1985 w/husband and my two kids and as we were walking down to the edge my husband triped and fell on his stomach right at the edge on the top of the falls, that was it for me I turned and left my kids were mad, I did not let go of there hands till we got to the car. Have not been back. But my son and his friends have been and went to the bottom and back up, and loved every minute of it he said the view was awsom.

By Ken from da UP on Thursday, May 9, 2002 - 10:07 pm:

Couldn't get online last night, the @#%*!! server wouldn't come up. Oh, well. :o( This is a very nice picture of the middle falls, the ones we called the 'Mama' falls. Still waiting for a pic of those 'Daddy' falls. :o) The DH falls are also impressive in the spring. As kids in the early '50s the Tikkanens and Holster boys went down to the bottom of the falls and into that horizontal shaft with a flashlight. Gets awful black when the light is off! Then we climbed up the other side and had a heck of a time. We got about 2/3 of the way and our 'leader' couldn't find any more handholds. The rest of us couldn't go back down. (We were 'cautious', not 'chicken'.) :-) Took him a while, but he finally found his way to the top. We followed and said we were going to do it again 'some' day but we never did. Thank you for the memories, Paul. Thank you, Charlie.

By Ken from da UP on Thursday, May 9, 2002 - 10:19 pm:

Falls of the Keweenaw? Both sets of falls are in Houghton county. But, I know what you mean. Keweenaw Peninsula, right? Maybe the heading could've been 'Falls of the Copper Country'. 'Eh?

By Sherry - Gulfport, MS on Friday, May 10, 2002 - 01:20 am:


By molson,, twin cites mn. on Saturday, May 11, 2002 - 01:11 pm:

Its a shame that something so beautiful and extordinary, can be taking away from the public. I understand all the legal principles and the owners concerns.

This like the DEVILS WASH TUB up by copper harbor. It had a sign on the road a path to the shoreline bedrock. This was great place to watch the spray from the waves hitting the cave.

I wonder if anybody has pictures of the wash tub

By Paul in Illinois on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 12:22 pm:

I just returned from Copper Country last night and have seen that my pictures appeared here on Wednesday. Sorry for the delay on commenting on the comments. Jim from Michigan is correct my picture is of the middle falls. Sorry for my mislabeling. I tried to get a good shot of the lower falls Friday - they were tremendous with all the water from Wed.'s snow and rain. Unfortunately, the lower trail on the East side was very wet, slippery, and blocked by wind falls in several places. I survived that only to be met by an impassable section of very cold and fast water about 100 yards from a point where I might have gotten a shot from the bottom. Have to settle for shots from the top. I ran out of time and light before I could attempt a shot from the West side.
I figured the name Houghton-Douglass Fall vis Douglas Houghton Falls would spark some controversy. To RCW of $ Bay, your comment confirms that other folks have also known it as Houghton - Douglass. You are probably correct that a sign calling it Douglas Houghton just as I remember a sign with the opposite. My Grandfather was the third generation of the family to live in the Copper Country, that is what they called it. The creek itself also carried various names through the years. Today the Falls are commonly known as Douglas Houghton and I am not attempting to rename them. The point, if any, is that various features of the Copper Country have carried different names through the years. Thank you all for the discussion and comments.

By 100% Yooper on Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 09:24 am:

One last comment on the Houghton-Douglass Falls, and why it is no longer open to the public (and time to get off the issue) -- the fortunate and lucky owners of the property have built a log home there (which I understand was unfortunately lost to a fire recently). Of course we can understand why it is no longer open to the public, and people need to be thankful for the time when they could go here...but alas, as all things up there we thought were 'public' (Bete' Gris Beach, Cedar Bay Beach, Mt. Bohemia, etc.)...they are properties to be bought and sold and privately owned and developed to individuals lucky enough to acquire them. Perhaps people need to think more to the future, and put landmarks such as these into landtrusts, or donate them to the Park...........

Just a thought......It is a beautiful area, which needs wise land conservation and protection.

By Marsha, Michigan on Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 11:46 pm:

My husband was doing some climbing at the Douglas Houghton Falls in the early seventies, fell into a patch of poison ivy and was in the hospital for ten days, because he's highly allergic to poison ivy. A few years later he also came into contact with poison ivy in our own front yard near Flint and spent another ten days in the hospital! We now have a cottage on Keweenaw Bay in Aura where we enjoy beautiful sunsets AND sunrises when we look westward across the bay. The sun glows brightly on the cliffs across the bay at dawn. We especially enjoy the Aura Jamboree every July where we make bean soup in a 65 gallon open kettle. We're anxious for our first trip north this summer!

By Pete from Wi on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 03:14 pm:

In the mid seventies I took our three children to the bottom of the falls one spring. Going down was easy but coming back up they could kick holes in the crust and climb out like they had a ladder. I however was too heavy and broke completely through. Never thought I'd see the top.

By Kim, Michigan on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 10:09 pm:

Thanks for them memories....I went to DH twice....had a great time both times..... climbed up the sides to get out both times, a different path each time...almost got stuck both times....but managaed to get to the top. Always felt tired and wonderful as if I had really done something when I visited there. Always wondered why we didn't just go up the way we came down, would have been so much easier!!!! Miss visiting there, but am so glad I had the chance.

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