Exploring Houghton, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula
Home of Michigan Technological University and the Gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula
Houghton, MI, located on Highway 41 in the Upper Peninsula, was named after Douglass Houghton who was Michigan's first appointed state geologist. Douglass Houghton discovered the vast copper deposits in the Keweenaw Peninsula in 1840, and the town started to grow and develop.
Houghton is the home of Michigan Technological University and the A. E. Seaman Mineralogical Museum. The Museum holds an exciting collection of minerals from the area, as well as other parts of the world and is open to the public. MTU, with approximately 6,100 students, is one of the top engineering schools in the world.
You will see many turn-of-the-century buildings made from Jacobsville sandstone as you drive down the main street. The Mineral Range Railroad depot in Houghton, built in 1903, has been beautifully restored and is a private business.
Especially noteworthy are the Court House, the Douglass House built in 1860, and the many area churches. Architectural students, photographers, and historians will be able to enjoy these wonderful sandstone buildings.
Riverside Park is on the waterfront just west of the aerial lift bridge. Here you will find a boardwalk, picnic area, marina, playground, beach and an RV Park, which is open in the summer. The Houghton Waterfront Trail is perfect for biking, jogging, or walking, or you can paddle a section of the Keweenaw Water Trail through Portage Lake. (Map).
Wild thimbleberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries abound throughout the area. The thimb1eberry, a rare, intense showy red berry, enjoys a special place because it grows in the Upper Peninsula and Thimbleberry jam is considered quite a delicacy. If you are unable to find any, you might want to try some of the delicious jams, jellies, syrups and other berry products available.
The Isle Royale National Park Service Visitors Center is on the waterfront, just off US 41. The ferry can be boarded there for the trip to Isle Royale, an island 70 miles out on Lake Superior, which is enjoyed by hikers, campers and naturalists.
You can go biking, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling on the many trails that traverse the area. For snowmobilers, the Bill Nichols Trail goes from Houghton to Mass City and the Jack Stevens Trail goes from Hancock to Calumet. There are also many other groomed trails that crisscross the area. You can snowmobile right from many of your favorite motels and the lower level of the aerial lift bridge is open for travel across the waterway to Hancock.
Mount Ripley is across the bridge to the east in Hancock if you like downhill skiing. This area features a chair lift, bar lift, instruction, rental, ski shop, food, and a tobogganing and snowboard area.
Photos by Mary Deloria
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