Nov 18-12

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2012: November: Nov 18-12
Final run of the Copper Range    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Peter Ouilette

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 08:00 am:

This week's Shoebox Memory comes to us from Peter Ouilette, marking the final run of a rail line familiar to folks in the Copper Country:

The Copper Range Railroad operated from 1899 to 1972. At its greatest extent, it ran from Gay south to the junction with the Milwaukee Road at a place called McKeever, which is not far from Mass City. The Copper Range was built to serve the new copper mines then opening up south of Houghton, which were located in Trimountain, Painesdale, Winona, and other locales. Copper Range handled everything from passengers (pasty cammers may remember the school train which took children to classes at Jeffers in Painesdale many years ago) to fuel oil to beer, but its bread and butter was transporting copper rock and forest products. As the last copper mines in Houghton and Keweenaw counties closed up shop in the sixties, the region's railroads found themselves without a way to make a profit. Once the Copper Range went out of business it was only another ten years before rail service in the Copper Country was gone for good. The railroad was unique in that it was contained wholly within the Keweenaw. Other local mining companies like Calumet & Hecla had their own industrial railroads to transport their products but the public had little or no contact with them.

This photo was taken at McKeever Oct 27, 1972 after the train had delivered its last Copper Country cargo to the outside world. Quite a few people gathered for the occasion. I don't know all of them. It might be fun to see who the pasty-cammers recognize that I don't.
ClintOn ground, furthest left: Clint Jones, gifted railroad entrepreneur who ran the Keweenaw Central tourist line in Calumet from 1967 to 1971.
Immediately to the right, standing on the locomotive pilot step, grasping the handrail, is Jim Alain. Jim had come to the Keweenaw in 1964 after graduating from college. It's likely he was a teacher in the Hancock Public Schools at this time.
Trainmen on the locomotive pilot: fireman Gus Kumlin, brakeman Harold Eilola, engineer Ty Kuopus, unknown, and conductor Cyril LaBissoniere.

Other men on the ground by the coupler are unknown (railroad employees, I assume), but on the ground at right is Charlie Sincock, railroad vice president (tie). I think the man in the black overcoat is Earl Gagnon of the Gazette, but not sure.
Our thanks to Peter for starting today's conversation, and we are looking forward to anyone else who can help fill in the blanks.

Have a good week :o)
Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 08:35 am:

Looks like a pleasant October afternoon and these gentlemen look rather cheery. I wonder what they did afterward, job-wise.

By Donna (Donna) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 08:37 am:

That was a cigar moment!

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 08:58 am:

Sad to see railroads do away. Such an important part of history.

By FJL (Langoman) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 10:15 am:

Don't think last weeks cam notes are last weeks.......

By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 10:17 am:

how cool, to me, it would be to talk to those men about back in the day.

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 10:17 am:

Love trains! Any kind.

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 10:59 am:

Think you're right, FJL, I just noticed that.

By jbuck (Jbuck) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 09:10 pm:

Thanks for the great history lesson ~ anything to do
with trains is interesting! That had to be a sad
day for the men pictured.

Trains were the 'wave of the past' and some day may
be the 'wave of the future' again! The state of the
rails in many places and the ownership patterns are
a challenge to that.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 10:39 pm:

Most certainly Earl Gagnon at far right, worked with him for years at the Gazette, what a wonderful person he was. Earl had a passion for trains and boats.

By Robert Anderson (Rca) on Friday, November 30, 2012 - 08:50 pm:

As I recall, it was a beautiful late fall day in the U.P. I left my job at the Groveland Mine near Iron Mountain shortly before noon and headed north to intercept the train at Mass. Too late. Finally I found it at South Range and followed it into Houghton. Jim Alain, Charlie Sincock, and I were about the only ones left at that point. I can still hear the swing bell on the diesel ding-ding-ding as it crossed Houghton Canal Road for the last time, and the sinking feeling when the engine was put into the roundhouse and the doors closed...forever.

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