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    Keweenaw

    National Historical Park Michigan

Fourth Thursday in History: Road Back to Central

The Methodist Church in Central celebrates the 100 year anniversary of its annual reunion this year.
The Methodist Church in the former mining community of Central celebrates the 100 year anniversary of its annual reunion.
NPS Photo, Dan Johnson

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News Release Date: July 27, 2006
Contact: Abby Sue Fisher, 906-337-3168

The Methodist Episcopal Church served Central from 1868-1903 when a declining population required it to close its doors. Yet ties to the church – and community – were so strong that people began to return every summer beginning in 1907. This year marks the 100th Reunion at the Central Church, which will take place on Sunday, July 30th. Join Brian and Joan Wake as they share the history of the church and discuss this year’s annual gathering of the descendents of Central’s pioneering families.

The Central Mine opened in 1854. The company sponsored church was built in 1868 to serve their predominantly Cornish workforce; it quickly became the heart of community life. In addition to regular church services and Sunday school, it ran a lending library, organized school programs, and held 4th of July festivities and Christmas parties that included presents for all the children. When the mine closed in 1898, the close-knit community began to disperse. Five years later the church also shut its doors. In 1907, the town’s former residents began an annual tradition of reuniting in Central to affirm their ties to the location and church. Although the reunion is enjoyed by many as a commemoration of the Keweenaw’s heritage, it has special significance to the descendants of Central. The church is the most tangible connection they have to their ancestors.

Brian Wake is one of those with strong family ties to Central. His great grandfather was killed in the mine when he was only 33, leaving a wife with four children to support, and another on the way. Their dramatic story speaks to Central’s past and illustrates the importance of community in early mining locations across the Keweenaw. The reunion that Wake helps organize every year is one way of recognizing their pioneering achievements and honoring their memory.

The Wake’s presentation will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27 in the Central Church, located at 7362 Stagecoach Road in Central, Michigan. Central is located just off U.S. Highway 41, approximately 5 miles north of Phoenix. Take a left at the junction of Gratiot Lake Road, and another left on Stagecoach Road to the church. The event is free and open to the public.

This presentation is part of the Fourth Thursday in History program sponsored by Keweenaw National Historical Park. Additional support for this event is being provided by the Central Mine M.E. Church Board.

The Fourth Thursday in History series arranges public presentations on important aspects of Copper Country history and techniques for historic preservation. Presentations are scheduled in venues throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula, particularly in historic sites associated with specific topics, and are free and open to the public.

For further information, including specific directions to this event, contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at 906/337-3168 or check the web at www.nps.gov/kewe

Future Fourth Thursday in History Events:
Photographing the Keweenaw Peninsula
August 24, 2006, 7:00 p.m.
Fort Wilkins Auditorium

Mothballing Quincy Workers’ Houses
September 28, 2006, 7:00 p.m.
Franklin Fire Hall on Quincy Hill

Did You Know?

Autumn leaves provide a backdrop for the Quincy Smelting Works located along Portage Lake across from Houghton, Michigan.

The Quincy Smelting Works is the only copper smelter in the Great Lakes region still standing in substantial condition. It reflects the technology of the time, the industrial processes critical to the industry and the workplace of the people who produced copper for industrial and domestic uses. More...