In my collection of old photos, I occasionally come across portrait style pictures, Unfortunately many of these are unidentified and we don’t know who these individuals are. Maybe somewhere along the way, someone may know who these individuals are. The first picture was a lucky one because we have part of the name for these three ladies. The back of the photo says “These ladies probably were Lypsinmaas.” of all of the pictures on this page, it is the only one that has some form of identification.
What this does do, is give us a look into the faces that walked the streets of Red Jacket / Calumet in the 1880s and 90s. Walking along the streets one could easily encounter any one of these folks going about their daily business. The second picture is completely unknown though by looking at their faces, it appears that they are related. My guess would be brothers but it is impossible to be sure. It does illustrate the importance of labeling photographs of families. We don’t normally think of ourselves as historical but as time moves on all things become historical by their representations of days and people gone by.
The next picture, which is a typical Red Jacket couple, seem to be economically reasonably well off. If nothing else we know they are probably wearing their “Sunday best.” Most of the locals worked in the copper mines where the companies paid low wages and worked long endless days of hard labor. The early days of living on the Keweenaw were hard and cold, yet Red Jacket / Calumet thrived with art and culture. A dozen nationalities converged on the region all in pursuit of wealth from the copper deposits. Cornish, Irish, Italians, Finns, Swedes, and Slavs, all became the backbone of the copper community of the Keweenaw.
Like many communities, there were those that put on uniforms. Our fourth picture shows an unknown soldier from Red Jacket / Calumet. (For those that are unaware, Red Jacket is the original name of the town of Calumet. Calumet was the original name of Laurium. In the 1920s, they moved the name of Calumet to Red Jacket and Calumet became Laurium.) Not being an expert of the military, I’m not sure what this uniform is from. I believe he has a bayonet holder on his belt. It is his English style bobby hat he has next to him that has me guessing. It would be really great to put a name to this guy. Actually it would be really great to put a name to any of these pictures.
As I stated earlier, these are all people that one would have met on the streets during daily life. This last picture shows a pair of unknown women that still seem to have an old world connection. The embroidery on the dress of the woman on the right seems Scandinavian or Slavic. It is hard to tell if they are related. These pictures are around 150 years old. They depict the faces of those that came to one of the harshest places on Earth to establish their places in the American Dream. These are the pioneers of the Upper Peninsula. These are the faces of the U.P.’s past.
Pictures courtesy of the Mikel B. Classen Collection of Historical Pictures
I just received notice that my new book, True Tales, the Forgotten History of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is now live on Amazon. It is available in hardcover and softcover currently with the e-version in a few days. There will also be an audiobook. I know a lot of you have been waiting for this, so here’s your opportunity. As it settles into catalogs, it will also be available to order through bookstores.
Here are some of the reviews:
“Romantic ideas of the pioneer days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will fade quickly as these true tales of lawless, rugged, wild-weather, difficult times before about 1900 are perused. Laws were few, enforcement was scarce, violent events were often, and shipwrecks were many. However, opportunities to be a hero were as numerous and wonderful life-saving deeds of kindness and compassion are recorded in these pages as well. Classen does history an excellent service by revealing the truth. Sometimes we think humanity has advanced little. An attitude quickly challenged in these pages. Readers will feel gratitude for all they have today after finishing these tales.” –Carolyn Wilhelm, MA, Midwest Book Review
“Classen accomplished what he set out to do-provide readers with interesting and true tales about the U.P. He did not romanticize the history and told bold facts to enlighten the reader. The U.P. was uncharted territory with harsh beginnings. Captains battled terrible storms while sailing on Lake Superior. Corrupt entrepreneurs made money off the suffering of young women. Classen rang bells for unsung heroes. Much can be learned about Chase Osborn’s efforts-the man who became the first governor of Michigan from the U.P. and Peter White, founder of Marquette. So much can be learned by reading Classen’s book. It is highly recommended.” –Sharon Brunner, U.P. Book Review
Across the Upper Peninsula there are dozens of waterfalls, all worth seeing, all spread across the peninsula giving virtually every county their own. Waterfalls are a staple of the U.P. scenery and bring countless sightseers to the area annually. O-Kun-de-Kun Falls in Ontonagon County is not only one of those “must see” U.P. Waterfalls, it is one of the easiest to access.
O-Kun-de-Kun falls is located approx. eight miles north of Bruce Crossing on U.S. 45. There is a parking lot located on the east side of the road where the trail head begins. Don’t blink, you’ll miss it. The hike back to the falls is only a little over a mile on a trail that is very well made and is a portion of the North Country Trail. Maintenance of this trail is ongoing and is an easy hike. The 1.3 miles goes quickly and the walk is over before one realizes it.
As a hiker approaches the falls it is important to know there are two sets of falls. There is an upper and a lower set of cataracts. The upper falls will be the first one along the trail. It is well below the trail and is not easy to get to. There is a foot trail, but it is steep.
This is the O-Kun-de-Kun upper falls. Not easy to get to, but worth a look just the same.
Though very beautiful to see, the upper falls isn’t what the trail actually leads to. It is the lower falls that most come to see. Following the trail further will get you there. The trail follows the Baltimore River for a few more hundred yards. The lower falls will be on the right, they are impossible to miss.
O-Kun-de-Kun lower falls, a close look shows a photographer behind the falls shooting a picture.
The lower falls is the easiest to reach and it is large enough to go behind. There are no fences, just a great place to see a waterfall. If by some chance the falls are missed by a hiker, there is a suspension bridge that crosses the river. This is the point of going too far and are past the falls. The bridge does provide a beautiful view of the lower falls and is an excellent place to get pictures from.
The suspension bridge across the Baltimore River. This was taken from the top of the O-Kun-de-Kun lower falls.
O-Kun-de-Kun waterfall is one of the premier sights of the Upper Peninsula. Named after an Ojibwa chief, there are few hikes with easier access than this one. Though it isn’t the largest water fall in Michigan, it is one that has its own character and beauty.
A photograph of unknown persons taken in Ironwood Michigan by O.L. Thornbladh.
I recently acquired some old photos of individuals from across the U.P. Many of them are unknown as to the identity of the individuals in them. I have that issue with the one above. I have no idea what is going on in this, but it looks similar to one I have where a known outlaw is having his picture taken with the sheriff after being arrested. It is also from Ironwood and the individual on the right in the back looks a lot like the sheriff in that picture. If anyone has any information regarding this, I would really appreciate hearing from you. Currently I’ve dubbed this the “Ironwood Bad Boys.” If nothing else it is a really awesome picture from the U.P.’s past.