Keweenaw Stories - Calumet: Queen City of the Keweenaw

Open Transcript


Reminders of the once mighty copper mining industry are all around
us in Calumet, but focusing on mining alone tells only one part of the
area’s history.
Copper mines needed workers and many brought families. These
men, women and children came from all over the world, bringing
their cultural traditions and creating a new community on the remote
Keweenaw Peninsula.
“For another hour, we traveled across snow covered plains and tall
chimneys loomed before us, the sign of more mines.
The train stopped before an old, small frame station, painted green.
Calumet! – shouted the conductor. My long journey had ended. On May
2, 1903, I arrived in my new community.”
Ivan Molek, Slovenian Immigrant
Miners, along with their families needed places to live, food to eat and
many of the other services we find today in our home towns.
The department stores, groceries, construction companies, breweries
and entertainment venues that developed here not only supported
the copper industry but also helped to develop a lively society.
Originally named Red Jacket, the town grew alongside the largest
copper mining company in Michigan; Calumet and Hecla. During the
early 1900s - some of the mining companies’ most productive years -
nearly 35,000 people lived around Red Jacket.
Many business owners expanded their stores to accommodate
growing demand, and shopkeepers often learned several languages in
order to serve their diverse customers.
Crowds packed the streets on festival days. Streetcars filled with
passengers traveled through town and out to neighboring
communities. At night, patrons wandered down sidewalks on their
way to performances at the Calumet theatre, or perhaps to a gathering
at a local saloon.
Inevitably, these prosperous years did not last; when the Calumet and
Hecla mining company experienced declines in production, the town
underwent difficulties as well. Many families left the area to find work
elsewhere. The community’s population dropped and by the year
2000, under 7,000 people lived in Calumet and the surrounding area.
While it is smaller today, Calumet is still a vibrant community, filled
with longtime residents, artists and business owners that are dedicated
to both preserving the history of the area and fostering its economic
Downtown Calumet was named a National Historic Landmark District
in 1989, and is now part of Keweenaw National Historical Park.
During the summer, rangers provide guided tours of the downtown, or
you can explore it on your own with a self-guided tour booklet.
The historic character preserved in Calumet – once the Queen City of
the Keweenaw – embodies the story of a community shaped by intense
industrialization, immigration and urbanization

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
3 minutes, 19 seconds

As the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company flourished, so did this mini-metropolis known as Calumet.


Running Time: 3:19 minutes
Produced by: Dan Johnson
Written by: Kristen Schmitt

The video should begin playing automatically. If you experience a lot of buffering, pause the video and wait for it to load before viewing.


Last updated: March 16, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

25970 Red Jacket Road
Calumet, MI 49913


(906) 337-3168

Contact Us