Apr 10-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: April: Apr 10-05
Remembering a bridge wreck    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from Kevin Musser
Near the bridge, more recently    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Paul Roberts

Charlie at Pasty Central on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 07:17 am:

Kevin Musser at CopperRange.org reminds us of a century old accident involving the steamer "Northern Wave" and the double-decked wooden Portage Swing Bridge in April of 1905. The original was built in 1885, carrying the first railroad traffic north. The accident triggered the re-building in steel and lengthening of the swing bridge to the one used up until 1960, when the present lift bridge was opened. Explore the fascinating history of this crossing in Kevin's Three Spans over the Portage.

The second photo was taken last week by Paul Roberts, and appears to be the view from the today's bridge looking east (around sunrise no doubt). The ice is rapidly diminishing these days. Catch more of Paul's recent shots throughout the Keweenaw in his Northwoods Nomad picture gallery.

Speaking of the ice breaking up... I got a kick out of a shot we received from Daniel Jamison. He says of this photo, "The ice is breaking up in Pennsylvania as well":

floating ice
Finally, we wanted to recognize Bob Jewell from downstate, who answered our challenge to find a photo from the top of Castle Rock, which was featured a few days ago here on the Pasty Cam. His view is exactly pointed back toward the spot Edie and I passed on our return from Mackinac Island last Monday.
I'd just like to thank all the folks like Kevin, Paul, Daniel and Bob who make these daily get-togethers so informative and so much fun. Have a good week :o)
Chuck, IL on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 07:24 am:

...and people today complain when a long boat comes through and holds up traffic for 10 minutes!!!!

By gw-houghton on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:00 am:

One day back then my mother was surprised when the steel swing bridge started to move out into the channel. She was walking from Houghton to Hancock visit her mother. Realized she isn't going anywhere until the span closed back up after a ship had gone thru. Could you imagine the look on her face??? WOW!!!

By Knit-Wit on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:11 am:

The old bridge photos are fascinating. Thank you for the diferent views. Love the idea of a "photo challenge", everyone didgging out their old photos on a particular topic and sharing them and their stories. Like a big scapbook page with personal notes.

By ts on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:12 am:

chuck--dont think there were many cars crossing the bridge in 1905--mabe a horse---people them days lived most of there lives on one side of the bridge or the other

By Gordy Cuba City,Wi on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:19 am:

When I was a kid back in the 50's and we were walking across the Bridge and a boat was coming we would run to the swing span and take a ride knowing that the man operating the bride had to stay up in his control house and could only shake his fist at us. A GREAT RIDE!

By John Van Dyke on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:21 am:

Speeking of bridges, I have met people in Macinaw City who have never been to the UP!

By Uncle Bud/old Mohawk guy on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:54 am:

I know folks who live in Keweenaw and have never been out of Mohawk let alone the County.

By pastycam reader on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 09:16 am:

It's sad to hear people who haven't even been across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge from the
Keweenaw side before.

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 09:24 am:

Great shots guys! I'm amazed that people don't venture out and yet have a "worldly" opinion of how things "should" be. I live in an area where people haven't been out of their little burg too. We have as many small towns out here as the Keeweenaw.

By NKR Mishawaka IN on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 09:33 am:

Good morning from Mishawaka IN. Interesting picture of the bridge wreck. That got me wondering if there is another way to get across the canal. Is Keweenaw Peninsula really a peninsula (a land almost surrounded by water) or a island ( land surrounded by water)? The maps I have seen make it look like a island connected to the mainland by the bridge.

By Mary Lou on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 09:50 am:

....Most folks living in in the Copper Country in 1905 were world travlers. My own family came in 1884 and traveled accross the Atlantic Ocean from Germany and also from Switerland and some came down from Canada. I think they must have had a lot of courage and a wonderful spirit of adventure.

By Alex Tiensivu, Georgia on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 09:50 am:

WOW! I never knew this ever happened! I'm kind of surprised with all the talk I've done here about the bridges, that no one ever told me of this accident. That's QUITE a picture!

Today's first comment from Chuck in Illinois, "...and people today complain when a long boat comes through and holds up traffic for 10 minutes!!!!" kind of makes me laugh a bit at how strange I am... If I saw a ship coming, I would pull over and make SURE I got stuck in the traffic, just to see the bridge go up and enjoy that! Or, I would pull over on the Tiensivu! (The only REAL Finnish word I know, since it's my last name... ROADSIDE!)

By another pastycam reader on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:12 am:

There should be another way to get across the Portage Canal. Just a few years ago, a ship was close to the bridge, it wasn't raised quick enough, If I'm not mistaken, had to drop anchor in a hurry. Keweenaw Pennisula is basically an island minus the bridge.

By TL, South Carolina on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:55 am:

I LOVE the "iceberg" shot - ROFL!!!!!

To "another pastycam reader": Lots of people live on islands - they come & go on boats :)

By Jeff PORTLAND OR on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:57 am:

Good day from the northwest. I just got done reading Kevin Mussers Three spans over the Portage. Great job KEVIN really great information and great pictures.

By Roy TN on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:09 am:

I remember the new bridge and the time a freighter almost hit it. It was in 1960, right after it was dedicated. The vertical portion of the bridge began to rise and got stuck. The freighter reversed engine and dropped anchor in order to stop. It tore up all of the telephone cables in the portage and we were without telephone service north of the bridge.
If I remember correctly, the current bridge was the heaviest verticle lift bridge in the world, back in 1960. It this fact still true?

By Clyde Elmblad...L'Anse on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:20 am:

Great picture on the 1905 bridge disaster Kevin! I've included a picture of the bridge disaster from the other side.

By Sherri, Toivola on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:36 am:

In all the books I have read about the local history (mostly copper mining) not many have mentioned the Portage Lift Bridge. I now read, the Three Spans the Portage and I know more. Thanks for the history lesson.

By maijaMI on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 12:01 pm:

Thanks for the bridge wreck pictures. Fascinating history, but I bet it wasn't so fascinating for the people then.

By Herb_Wis on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 12:08 pm:

Friday there was a post about a "wall of silver" and
renewed activity around Cliff. I did a little Google
search and this popped up. Maybe it's old news
that I missed, but for those who didn't see it the
first time around.

A fairy tale or is the silver really there?
The only thing missing is Ben Franklin!

You can read the article here:
Daily Tribune

By jon/mn on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 12:17 pm:

why not just leave us the hyperlink?

Thanks for supplying the link Jon, I've added it to Herb's post too!

By pegg, fla on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 01:04 pm:

The Edwards mentioned in Three Spans over the Portage was my great great grandfather Thomas William Edwards. He was born in Devonshire, England July 5, 1839, the son of Captain Richard M. Edwards and Jane Pryor who immigrated to America in 1849. The family came to the Keweenaw in 1850. Richard and Jane's portraits are in the parlor room at the Houghton County Historical Museum in Lake Linden. TW was the president of the Portage Lake Bridge Company. He was also involved in real estate, lumber mills in Baraga, mines, (both copper, Calumet and Hecla, for one, in the Keweenaw, and gold in the Black Hills), and had half-interest in the steamer Ivanhoe of the L'Anse and Houghton Transportation Company. He married Emily Collingwood June 13,1861. TW died July 1, 1899. TW and Emily's summer home built in 1860 is north of Baraga on the bay. I spend summer's there and plan to move back. Their other house is a private residence in Houghton. It's the restored maroon with yellow trim on the way out of town heading up to Walmart. There is more info about other family members in the History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, circa 1882. I have the info from there to the present. The family plot is in the Forest Hill Cemetery up the hill from MTU. Sheldon's, Hunt's and Blandy's and Knox were all involved. Lots of history!!! If anyone wants more info, email me.

By pegg, fla on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 01:39 pm:

oops sorry. TW Edwards was born in 1838. I fumble-fingered it.

By anon on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 02:00 pm:

Herb-WI- thanks for the info.

By Mary Lou on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 02:24 pm:

Herb..Wi, Thank you for taking the time and effort to inform us.....I remember hearing many stories regarding miners selling bags of silver in the back rooms of businesses when silver buyers would come to the Copper Country. I guess many lunch boxes left the mines with silver and the men considered it a Company "fringe benifit".

By Karen, WI on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 02:27 pm:

My mother-in-law, a Hancock native, tells us that one of her uncles died when the car in which he was riding drove off the old bridge. The death year on this young man's grave marker (which we've seen at Hancock's Lakeside Cemetery) is 1926; regrettably we don't have a more specific date. This happened a few years before my mother-in-law was born, so she doesn't know any more about the circumstances of her uncle's death beyond that. Wish we had more details about this sad event, but on one of our next trips to the area, we hope to do some research in the local newspaper archives.

By anon on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 02:36 pm:

Thanks for getting back to the pasty cam photo
topic! Stories about these bridges are what is most interesting today!!!

By Lowell MO. on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 04:12 pm:

I think any of the stories or the history of the U.P. are interesting. I enjoy the picture also. Have allways said this is one of the very few places where one can not only see the pictures but also learn so much.
The story of the Silver mine is also interesting. Wasn't there a silver mine on one of the islands around the Keweenaw?

By pegg, fla on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 04:15 pm:

BTW, did anyone notice the building on the right side of the picture? It now has a green sheet metal roof and can be seen everyday on the bridge cam.

By Mike, Beaverton,MI on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 05:06 pm:

Sorry to get off of the subject, but does anyone know what happened to the web cams at the Sault locks? All I get is an "This page not available" message.

By Cousin Jack on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 05:16 pm:

Love the old portage bridge pics and very much enjoyed the "Wall of Silver" article left by Herb as well. Good luck to current Cliff prospectors but I really have to wonder if Richard Kellogg purposefully left hints he's feeding everyone a big fish story (and a "speckled" one at that).
Might it have been the former Sportsman Bar just north of the Hut on 41 that Kellogg ran in 1971? I seem to recall a mounted trout (among other creatures) above the bar in there.

By sur5er on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 05:54 pm:


Which link are you using for the Soo Locks? Try this link :)


By darrell oinas/Saint Johns Michigan on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 06:27 pm:

what is up with the bridge cam as it is still stuck on 4/4/05 and I wish kevin would update the site more, lots of history to the area during the 50's and 60,s and his site is top of the line but a bunch of history is left behind as most of the people who worked the mines during that time have passed on and there is no way to get that back, time is running out.

By sur5er on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 07:28 pm:

Keweenaw is a peninsula..as the Portage Canal is man made, connecting Portage Lake to Lake Superior.

Darrel, Mary posted about the bridge cam about a day or so ago (?)...something about a storm that did a number to the cam.

By ts on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:12 pm:

mary lou those world travelers only seen what was to be seen on the way to america--anyone touring there old homlands now days sees more in that country than your forfathers ever did lllucky if they ownd a horse==mabe an ox

By wh u h on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:46 pm:

So the area beyond Houghton is a man made island? One of the largest in the U.S.?

By Joyce Tormala Toivola on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 08:50 pm:

Very interesting.It is always a treat to visit this site.With the variety of links,history,humor,opinion and photos,we can enjoy a great vacation without leaving the chair!

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:15 pm:

Mike Curtin emailed a remarkable wide-angle view of the scene on April 15, 1905. You may have to scroll to the right to see the whole picture.

By RD, Iowa on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:36 pm:

By the positions of the people and unique angle, this is obviously the same photo from which the cropped and refined version at the top of the page was derived.

By close to home still on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:10 pm:

My relatives probably did only see the area very near the ol' homestead...Until they decided to "go to that Copper Country of Michigan" They then did travel hundreds of miles by buggy and walking to the coastal harbors they departed from.They then traveled about a thousand more miles from the east coast to reach the upper mid west in the period 1885 to 1903 or so.More than I have traveled for sure..

By ed/mi on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:24 pm:

Silver Islet was/is off the shore of Thunder Bay Ontario and not in Michigan and it was mined years ago but they had a hard time keeping the water from filling up the mine. Freighters docked there to transport barrels of ore and silver to lower lake ports.

By Mary Lou on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 09:15 am:

Charlie....The photo my son, Mike, sent to you is a professionally done photo.....the photographer was a C. E. Day. On the reverse side is a number 15,720 and another number 1411. I would guess 1411 refers to the number of our copy. I wonder if Mr C. E. Day was a resident of the area or some traveling photographer. It was probably a big news story on Appil 15, 1905.

By Paul, Mohawk on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 11:31 am:

To those who feel that not crossing the Portage Lift Bridge is a sad thing. Intially, I'd agree with you. However, look at the beauty that surronds us on this side (Hancock, Copper Harbor, and everything in between). That and the innocence of someone who hasn't crossed. They've never had to deal with lines at Walmart, construction at Walmart, as well as those other theings that we in the 21st century consider must haves or part of life. WHile to some it mmay seem crazy I think in a unique sort of way it shows that there are some people outthere who really are in a place they call home. All their needs are met and life is good. I, for one, somtimes wish I could be so lucky. Hpwever, I am not complaining. Walmart pays my bills!! Anyway, good pictures!

By bea, salem mi. on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 04:13 pm:

peg, fla;
Wasn't that the same building that was the teen center in the late 60's? I remember when the freighter almost hit the bridge, didn't the operator fall asleep or something, if I recall. great photo of the first wreck.

By ags - MI on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 02:19 pm:

i was a toot in the early eighties(nineteen). in physics class i remember doc wyble telling us the story of how when the first ship to pass under the new bridge came along, the mate blew(and blew) the whistle to alert the bridge tender. doc says that by the time the ship had to reverse engines and drop anchor there was only one person asleep in all of houghton/hancock. yup, the bridge tender. no assertions as to the veracity of this tale. but doc knew his stuff.

By walter p tampa on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 08:50 pm:

thanx for the hx.

By Gretchen Passmore (Gretpass) on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 06:52 pm:

I was really glad to see the pictures of the bridge accident. I remember my Dad telling me about it.

He was 6 when it happened and remembers seeing it. He said that at the time, the first boat in after the ice went out got free docking fees for the year.

Apparently, there was a race between two boats. The people of the towns on both sides came out to watch the race.

They signaled for the bridge to open and it must have been stuck. The first boat wasn't able to stop.

I haven't seen this information elsewhere, but I sure heard that story many times as I was growing up.

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