One hot July weekend we decided to escape the heat and take a drive north to the historic Keweenaw Peninsula
and do some Rock Hounding. The Keweenaw Peninsula is the upper most point of the Upper a Peninsula of
Michigan; pretty much six hours straight north of where we live. The three hundred mile drive provided both
some soothing cooler temperatures and history lessons along the way. This is “Copper Country” where after the
Native Americans first produced metallic tools and traded copper with the early settlers; and created some of
the earliest mining riches of the “New World”. Houghton Michigan being the epicenter of both mining and
shipping is the largest community in the area, and after the long drive north we decided we would stop at a
campground for the night.


At dawn we woke up to the sun peaking over the waters and set up on our way to Copper Harbor and took the customary pictures, and drove the circle route and stopped at several places along the shore to take in the sights; of the water, the rocks, the waves, the Eagles and even a passing freighter steaming its way to a port. We stopped off at a local Rock shop to look over their wares and bought a few for our collection. Spent an hour visiting with the proprietor and shared Rock Hound stories. As a “Professional Courtesy” between Rock Hounds; he advised us of a few locations of “Tailings Piles”; where the copper and iron mines dump their discarded ore, this is usually low grade or contains undesirable material, but it often still has a few specimens mixed in that slipped through the screening process. We spent a couple of hours scouring the area, piles and area and collected a couple of buckets of samples, before moving on again.


We then drove west to the popular McNair State Park located near the town of Calumet. It’s a nice park, known for being able to find Lake Superior Agates or “Lakers” as they are commonly known. The rocky beach is covered with colored rocks worn smooth from the erosion of the heavy lake currents rubbing them against the rock and sand surface if the Great Lake. It’s always amazing to me how the waves and currents of the oceans or in this case the Great Lakes can move rocks of considerable size from the bottom of thousands of feet and miles across; and wash them and erode their surface and push them into the shores. While we didn’t find any Agates, we still collected some fine mineral and rock specimens and again filling a bucket, and getting our feet and pant legs wet, we changed clothes and prepared to head back home.


The drive home was uneventful and we were tired. The six hour drive was enjoyable as we retraced our route and took in the scenery and mild traffic. We arrived home tired but happy as we had traveled nearly eight hundred miles and seen most of the Keweenaw Peninsula in just two days. Two days of travel and a life time ofexperiences and memories.


John & Mary Rettler