The northern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the same shore where Douglass Houghton's body washed up in 1845, glides by our starboard. We pass Eagle Harbor, with its 1853 schoolhouse where Justus Rathbone taught before moving to Washington, D. C. and writing a play called Damon and Pythias. The drama would be the impetus for a fraternal organization named the Knights of Pythias; the school would be restored in the 1920s by Rathbone's fellow Knights. The nearby Holy Redeemer Church was built the year after the schoolhouse, by the first priest ordained in the Diocese of Marquette. A red brick lighthouse built in 1871 stands guard as we pass. A dozen miles further east we pass Copper Harbor, another boom town created by the rush for the ore it was named for, the last town on the northern Keweenaw. Another light guides boats into the harbor. As we approach the tip of the peninsula we sight our third lighthouse of the day, this one on the grounds of Fort Wilkins State Park.

The copper rush brought an influx of prospectors to the towns and in 1844 the U. S. Army constructed a fort here to protect the miners from any possible Indian troubles and, maybe more importantly, from themselves. One of the garrison's first tasks was an unsuccessful attempt, that first September, to rescue the schooner John Jacob Astor, driven on the offshore rocks by an early autumn storm, just after unloading supplies for the garrison. Her remaining bones still lure divers to the site. Besides exploring the hulk of the Astor, visitors to the restored fort and park can also tour fifteen buildings, tour a museum at the offshore lighthouse and peer through a restraining fence at the entry to the Pittsburgh and Boston Company's abandoned mine shaft. Having stared at a hole in the ground and the ubiquitous historical video at the fort, we continue on. We could let the land drop away and sail straight on, crossing into the Canadian part of the lake and fetching up at Ontario's Lake Superior Provincial Park. But we're not done with the Keweenaw yet, so we throw the wheel to starboard, round the end of the peninsula and enter the channel between the mainland and Manitou Island, noted if at all, as a onetime source of potatoes for Chicago produce markets. Those of you with photographic memories may recall that one of the Apostle Islands was also called Manitou. No one seems to mind the duplication.

Another turn of the wheel and we begin heading west. There are many towns in the immediate area, on the underbelly of the Keweenaw, most of them deserted after the copper ran out - Bete Grise, Cliff, Copper City, Fulton, Lac LaBelle, Mandan, Phoenix. One of these ghost towns, Gay, has a single thriving business, a bar. It's a good place to have a beer and buy a tee-shirt to shock your more conservative friends back home. Guess what it says. One hint. Not...

OUTRO
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor




© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte


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