Dec 30-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: December: Dec 30-07
Houghton County Traction Company    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Andrew C. Curto
A sea of snow    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Andrew C. Curto

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 07:50 am:

For more than three decades the Houghton County Traction Company was the driving force in mass transportation in the Copper Country. Their street car operation was documented through the years by Andrew C. Curto, a prolific photographer of the era. His father, Andrew Curto, Sr. is included in today's first photo, holding the hand of an unidentified little girl, perhaps the daughter of the photographer himself.

The thing that caught my eye this morning was the sign on the end of the trolley car…

…maybe because hockey was the last thing on my mind before falling to sleep last night. In case you missed it, a grueling matchup between the MTU Huskies and University of Michigan ended with a single Wolverines goal in overtime to win the Great Lakes Invitational prize. Michigan Tech finished second, Providence third, and Michigan State fourth.

The second photo illustrates something you may have picked up in these Shoebox Memory excursions during 2007… Have you ever noticed how this region of the U.P. was almost always referred to as "the Copper Country" back in the early twentieth century? More often today we speak of "the Keweenaw", perhaps an unconscious realization that the industrial focus of the peninsula is a thing of the past. I remember speaking with several residents at Still Waters - many of whom rode these street cars as children - who seemed to believe that the copper mines would someday return. C & H was so deeply ingrained in their way of life that it naturally seemed the industry would rev up again, when economic conditions were right.

Well, the mines aren't coming back, and neither are street cars. One-by-one as the old-timers have passed on, firsthand knowledge of the Copper Country's golden age is disappearing. In the coming year we hope to continue keeping U.P. memories alive, and we welcome your comments and pictures. Special thanks to the Houghton County Historical Society and the UPDCC for their roles in preserving Mr. Curto's collection of photos.
Martha Lantz (Wishin2bintheup) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 08:07 am:

When I was in 10th grade, my family lived in an apartment on Scott St. between 5th and 6th Streets next to the "Rectory" house. We lived in Copper Harbor the rest of the year, but moved into town from about mid-October to mid-May, so I know just where this picture was taken. Thanks for the update on the hockey. I now live about 1-1/2 miles from Notre Dame University. Michigan Tech used to play Notre Dame hockey team, but they haven't been doing that lately. I loved going to those games and cheering on the Huskeys!

By Pam & Jim - Calumet (Pjgrill) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 08:51 am:

MTU Huskies! You were the real winners last night. Tho the score put MI as the winner, but for a fraction of inch just shortly before, you would have the game. Regardless, in our hearts here in the Copper Country, you are the real winners.

By Brian R. Juntikka (Polkatime) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 09:48 am:

"The Copper Country" was originally called "The Copper District" by some. In the early 1980s, the chamber of commerce sought to change our area's designation to "The Keweenaw." They based that desire upon a number of factors - the biggest of which was to promote tourism. They argued that we all live on the Keweenaw Peninsula and that the copper mining companies abandoned us long ago.

Calling the Copper Country "The Keweenaw" does have a rather quaint ring to it, but a lot of people in other regions continually confuse "Keweenaw" with "Kewaunee" in Wisconsin.
As a resident of the Range Area much of my life, I never considered our towns to be part of a community called "The Keweenaw." To me, "The Keweenaw" is Keweenaw County. Even today on network radio, I always refer to our area as "The Copper Country."

The copper mines have indeed closed, but to say that they will "never come back" takes a lot for granted, I think. The rising price of copper may indeed bring mining back to this region and the required rail service as well (although I don't believe streetcars will return anytime soon.) I am always reminded that when we lost The Bosch Brewery in 1973, some people said we'd never get another brewery in the area, but history has since proven them wrong.

Brian R. Juntikka

By Donald R. Elzinga (Donagain) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 10:18 am:

That sign says that the hockey game was in the Palestra! My Mother skated there as a teenager growing up in Laurium, and we skated in the Palestra in Marquette when we were kids in the 30's and 40's. The Marquette Historical Society has some of the old seats and will build a display in their new building to help preserve its history. Was disappointed that they delayed the broadcast of the great GLI final until midnight, I'll bet it if was MSU and UofM they would not have done it.

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 11:37 am:

I grew up about two blocks from the Palestra in Marquette and I'd never thought much of the name until I saw it on the streetcar sign. I thought it was the only one and I had to look the word up and found it to be a common name for that type of establishment. Always learning! Thanks everyone.

By E. Neil Harri (Ilmayksi) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 11:45 am:

I just saw a news story about San Francisco's street cars. They started service in 1912. Our Copper Country street cars were probably a little older. Maybe this area was more influential back then.
We had an old street car station behind our house in Kearsarge. The old timers all remembered it back when it was running.

By Tom (Tom) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 01:40 pm:

That hockey sign on the street car also says Pittsburgh. Is that really from Pittsburgh, Pa??
My parents use to tell how they would take the street car from Calumet to Hancock/Houghton, etc.
There was what was called a car barn in west Hancock where the ice arena is locate.I vaguely remember the building when I was a kid.
Anyone remember Bridgeman Russell Creamery in Hancock? Probably there were other "creameries" in the area, too.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 02:02 pm:

I agree with Brian Juntika [Polkatime]; copper mining might someday be back to our area. It's very expensive to get it out of the ground with deepshaft mines but if the price of copper goes high enough; who knows? The biggest problem that I can see with re-opening of the copper mines is the [against everything extremists] they are always the vocal minority.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 02:06 pm:

I agree, Daveofmohawk and Brian.

By Scott D. (Pooch) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 02:12 pm:

Tom, I think the car barn was located across the street from the local west side "watering hole" the Monte Carlo Here is a link to a picture of it.

I do believe that it is now Thortons Garage from the gravel pit. I am too young to remember the street cars but you can still see the remnants of Electric Park somewhere up on Quincy Hill. I think it was a recreation/picnic area.

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 04:49 pm:

My brother Fred worked for Bridgeman Russel and he would bring home the best butterscotch ice cream. The Electric park still has a cement rail road leading from it. In 1995 I had a new Jeep Cherokee and my brother and I went up to the ruins of the park. Seeing the old rail bed he says why don't we drive down it to see where it goes. After all he is a doctor and claims to know all about the area so I agree. So off we go on our adventure, soon the brush started to close in and was rubbing on my new Jeep, We had gone so far that we couldn't back up, and there was no place to turn around so we went on and on and on till we finally came out on the highway. When we got to the road I got out and the car was really scratched up. John, you idiot look what my car looks like was my imediate reaction. He just stood there laughing. Well we found some dirt roads and cruised around until the Jeep was filthy so Precious couldn't see how marred up the Jeep was. When I had to turn it in I did the same thing and drove it thru a dirt road and turned it in filthy. Now when I am in the Copper Country I stay on the road and don't look for an adventure off road with the new cars. By the way Frank, John was stoopid that day, or maybe I was the stoopid one.

By Scott D. (Pooch) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 04:53 pm:

Mikie, Do you recall where Electric Park was?

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 04:59 pm:

Scott it is on the upper highway to Calumet from Hancock. Just have to look for it. I believe it is close to the airport but on the other side. Haven't been there since 1995, and now I drive a mini van so there is no way I would go exploring in it. Does anyone remember the Copper Country picknics here in the Detroit area? Sure wish they would return. Friday I was in the Hollywood Market buying meat for the pasties that Dani and I made, and the butchers mom was from Hubbell. I meet people almost every day that have a connection to the Copper Country.

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 05:02 pm:

Scott if you want I will send my brother John with you. He has gotten me into many a mess in our life time. I wouldn't depend on him though since he is still writing his book on French Candian Habitats.

By Matt Karhu (Matt_k) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 05:35 pm:

Through an acquaintance who once lived in Houghton County, I learned of an effort about 25 years ago (or more) to have the Keewenaw Peninsula called (or named) "Copper Island" for the promotion of tourism. I recall being told that one of the people behind the effort was known as "Mr. Ski" (Len Oikarinen).

A little research revealed that there is (or was) such a place on the Canadian side of Lake Superior named Copper Island, and that many years ago there were other copper mining areas in this country that also were called "Copper Country".

By Walter P McNew (Waltermcnew) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 07:31 pm:

how much snow so far anyone?

By RCW (Rcw) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 07:38 pm:

Mikie, if you take US 41 to the intersection that turn's into Hiway Location, across from the road to the Old Paradise Bar, you go in to the first right and that road leads out there.

By Ken ja Mimi from da UP (Kenjamimi) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 08:25 pm:

I remember my dad was called a teamster for the Bridgeman Russell Creamery. I think he drove a delivery van or truck. This was in '44 or '45. I remember seeing his old paycheck stubs later on. (Mom saved everything.)

By Albert Silfven (Aappo16) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 09:16 pm:

I had my first drink of soda pop at Electric Park as an infant. (cream soda) The bubbles came into my nose as I recall, and caused me some fright at first.
Traveling on US-41 from Hanacock to Calumet. there is a gravel road on the left side of the highway with a sign indicating Electric Park, although there is little evidence of the once popular recreation area remaining.

By Tom (Tom) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 10:01 pm:

The Electric Park road is about a mile north of the Paradise Garden Rd. On the left. You would have to tramp around the "bush" to find anything.

By David Hiltunen (Davidcorrytontn) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 10:26 pm:

Old Paradise Bar? Is there a new one? Every Lady I ever took to the Copper Country from Detroit I told her I was going to take her to Paradise,and always kept my word.

By dan belo (Djbelo) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 10:53 pm:

I can remember the streetcar in New Allouez even though I was only 18 months old, looking over the window sill of our dining room. The neighbor kids were comming from the sreet car, home from Calumet high!! 1932

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 11:06 pm:

Boy Dan are you old. Do you remember the original name of Hubbell?

By clinton drake (Clint) on Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 12:22 am:

Groverton was the original name of Hubbell.

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 11:32 am:

Your right Clint. Who was it named for?

By clinton drake (Clint) on Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 05:37 pm:

I have no idea.

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 06:31 pm:

I heard that it was in honor of Grover Clevland spelling is probably wrong since I don't have spell check on this computer. The man who bought our house in Hubbell was named Grover in honor of the town and the President. He was the person who told me the town was named for him, but Speedy Jenks let me know the truth. Life has really changed, how many kids know the town drunks on a first name basis and the drunks knew who you were? We were allowed to talk to them and they would keep us spellbound with their life stories many probably weren't true, but were fun listening to. So was the life in the forties and the early fifties. There was no t.v. so you had to entertain yourself.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Saturday, January 5, 2008 - 06:25 pm:

Mikie--More than one of the Du Long boys is a historian! Very
interesting and very true.

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