First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Landing number 2211; A Landing A Day blog post number 639.
Dan: I landed in a long-time OSer (and yet another Upper Peninsula landing), here in . . . MI; 55/42; 5/10; 5; 149.9.
Here’s my regional landing map:
And my local landing map:
And here’s my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to the UP (click on the link; hit “back” after viewing):
Notice all the UP landings (along with my recent northern Wisconsin landing that just missed)? Before my watershed analysis, here’s a map showing Street View coverage:
And here’s what the orange dude sees:
Anyway, here’s my watershed analysis:
I landed in the watershed of the E Br of the Firesteel R (first hit ever!); on to the Firesteel (first hit ever!), on to Lake Superior (17th hit), and then to the St. Lawrence (101st hit).
Here’s a GE Panoramio shot by “Mamble.Hamhandle” of the mouth of the Firesteel (where it discharges into Lake Superior):
Firesteel? Strange name. From Wiki:
A fire striker (or fire steel) is a piece of high carbon or alloyed steel from which sparks are struck by the sharp edge of chert or similar rock.
I didn’t realize that primitive steel making has been around for 4,000 years, so the use of fire steel for starting fires is ancient. Here are some pictures of fire steels used from Roman through Medieval times (from Wiki):
Now why the river is called the Firesteel (or why the pieces of steel are so peculiarly shaped), I have no idea . . .
So, for the second landing in a row, I find myself pretty much:
Landing God! Give me a break! How about a USer with a great hook? Oh well, I’ll see what I can do.
Traveling east to west (looking up at my landing map), the towns Winona, Mass City, Greenland and Rockland are tiny old copper mining towns. Back in the day they were something, but not now. I’ll focus a little later on the closest old copper mine to my landing.
So that leaves me with a town with a very unusual name, Ontonagon (which, of course was the winner in my “which town gets the title position for this post?” contest).
Before we go any further, it is important to know the correct pronunciation of Ontonagon. The best I can figure is on-tah-NAH-gun.
Anyway, I found a website “Home Town Chronicles” that had the best write-up about Ontonagon (the county, the river and the town):
The beginning, the life, and the present and future of Ontonagon country is bound to the River. The Ontonagon River, which gives its name to the present country, is the largest river which flows into the south shores of Lake Superior.
The name Ontonagon is like no other. There is nowhere else on the face of this earth that is identified with the mane “Ontonagon.” The origins of the name are in the native Ojibaway language and the word itself was likely corrupted into French, and later on, into English. The name has varied through the years and have included Nantounaganing, Nund-Norgan, Donegan and Atounagon. On the first known map of the area published at Paris in 1672, the river was identified as the Nanton Nagun.
A 19th Century Jesuit missionary, Father Gagnieur, had this to say:
Let us imagine ourselves now on the famous Ontonagon River that flows into Lake Superior. This name is interesting. It appears in the old relations of 1660 as Nantounaganing, which is what the Indians today still call it. When and where and by whom it was changed into Ontonagon, will, I suppose, never by known.
The river is famous more particularly for its copper mines and especially for one enormous mass of pure copper.
Here’s some more from the same website about the “enormous mass of pure copper:”
One cannot look at the early history of this land without looking to the great copper rock: the Ontonagon Boulder. The Chippewa Indians had long known about it, and made it a shrine of worship, their ” Manitou,” or mediator between them and the Great Spirit. The great rock which later served as a magnet [OK, not literally a magnet] drawing the copper prospectors to the area lay on the west branch of the Ontonagon River.
Here’s what Wiki has to say about the boulder (which is about 4 feet long):
The Ontonagon Boulder is a 3,708 pound (1682 kg) boulder of native copper originally found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States, and now in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution.
As of 2011, the Ontonagon Boulder is located in the National Museum of Natural History, but it is currently behind the scenes. It was to be installed in the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals when it opened, but at the last minute, engineering concerns led to a veto. A new exhibition of the boulder is being planned.
I guess the rock was just too heavy! For reference, a “gallon” of pure copper weighs about 75 lbs!
Anyway, there’s quite the story about the boulder. Here are some Wiki excerpts (this is a little long by ALAD standards, but worth the read):
During a geological voyage around the perimeter of Michigan in 1820, Henry R. Schoolcraft reached the mouth of the Ontonagon River. Led by four Indians, he journeyed up the Ontonagon River in two canoes. The next day they continued up the river until they reached a set of rapids. From there they traveled on foot until they finally reached the legendary boulder. Schoolcraft was originally disappointed with the boulder, finding it much smaller than legends claimed it to be.
After many failed attempts, the Ontonagon Boulder was finally removed in 1843, by Julius Eldred, a Detroit hardware-store merchant. Prior to extraction, Eldred purchased the rock from the local Chippewa for $150 in 1841. His first two expeditions were only able raise the boulder on skids.
In 1843 Eldred tried again. This time he discovered that the boulder now belonged to a group of miners from Wisconsin, who had located the land under a permit issued directly by the Secretary of War. With no other choice Eldred paid an additional $1,365 for ownership of the rock he had already purchased.
After paying for his prize twice, Eldred and his crew of 21 men, using a capstan, lifted the boulder 50 feet to the top of the adjacent bluff. It took a week to get to the top of the bluff, where they loaded the boulder into a small railcar.
They then cut a swath though the woods and laid out a short stretch of rails. They would push the railcar to the end of the short line, pick up the rails from behind, and place them in front of the car again. Eldred and his men did this for four miles before reaching the bottom of the rapids, where the boulder was then loaded onto a raft.
Once the raft reached the mouth of the Ontonagon River it was loaded on to a schooner, which sailed to Copper Harbor. Eldred’s victory was short lived, because when they arrived in Copper Harbor, Eldred was informed that the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury had instructed the Secretary of War to claim federal ownership of the Ontonagon Boulder, and ship it to Washington, D.C.
However, Eldred was able to delay giving the boulder to the federal government, and in the dead of night he hoisted it onto the deck of a waiting schooner. He sailed to Sault Ste. Marie, where the boulder was then loaded onto another schooner, which took the boulder the rest of the way to Detroit.
In Detroit, Eldred placed the legendary Ontonagon Boulder on public display, charging a cash admission. Then in 1847, Eldred and the federal government went to court fighting over ownership of the boulder. In the end, the government took the boulder, but paid Eldred $5,644.93 for “his time and expense in purchasing and removing the mass of native copper.”
The boulder remained in the possession of the War Department until 1860, when it was placed on public display in the Smithsonian Institution.
And then there’s this piece of Ontogagonian trivia (from Wiki):
Ontonagon is the westernmost incorporated community in the United States in the legally designated Eastern Time Zone as determined by the United States Department of Transportation. In the summer the sun sets over Lake Superior at 10pm local time with dusk lasting until almost 11pm. By contrast in the winter the sun does not rise until just before 9am and it is still pitch black at 8 am.
Of course, we need a map (from World Atlas) – and make sure that you note the western-most point of the Upper Peninsula:
Getting back closer to my landing, I was checking out Panoramio pictures when I came across this a little more than a mile east of my landing (by Brian Bower):
He calls this a cave, but come on, Bri! After all, we’re in copper mining country (with no limestone). It’s a mine entrance, of course!
And just a mile and half northeast of the mine entrance are ruins of the “King Philip Stamp Mill.” Here’s a Pano shot by Nailhead.com:
The King Philip mine and mine works began in 1864 and was absorbed by the Winona Copper Company in 1911. So what’s a stamp mill? It’s simply a very heavy machine that crushes ore by smashing a heavy weight down on a stream of ore passing under the weight. Here’s a Wiki picture:
I assume that each of the pedestals on the Pano picture supported one of these crushers.
Time for some local scenery. Winona lake is about three miles east of my landing. Here’s a Pano shot by “Garth.”:
I’ll close with this shot “Reflected Clouds,” (of the same lake) by Adam Carpenter:
That’ll do it . . .
© 2015 A Landing A Day