Historical Photos from Mikel B. Classen Collection
This is a picture of some men camping out at a place that is still popular for camping to this day, Chapel Beach. Chapel Rock in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore can be seen in the background.
Going camping back in the late 1800s was a lot different than it is today. There was no Coleman Company, no L.L. Bean, no ergonomic backpacks. And hiking shoes, not a chance. The equipment was heavy and bulky while the wilderness was formidable. The wooden equipment chest in the picture above attests to that.
This group camp was taken north of Marquette at Partridge Island.
The hunting camp shown above was a major project to set up showing that group camping has always been popular. There are both men and women pictured here representing several couples on this particular foray into the woods. It doesn’t appear they are moving on anytime soon.
Individual tent setup along a stream. This was the simple basic way to go. With the stream in the background this looks like a fishing trip.
Even in the early days, the U.P. was recognized for its value as a recreation paradise and fishing and hunting became the staple of the region. People of note began particpating in the sport like Henry Ford and William Coleman. Innovations followed and equipment made specifically for the purpose of portable camping became available. These early campers were the pioneers of an entire industry that today is worth billions.
This is an unidentified camp near Lake Superior. The woodstove pipe coming out of the tent flap is classic.
One thing that is still true, an adventure into the woods is like no other. The wilderness calls many of us and in response we are rewarded with experiences of a lifetime. Whether it is a lake, a stream, a mountain or the deep woods, these places fill a place in our souls that can be filled no other way.
Grand Portal facing west. Before there was a boat tour, a small craft was the only way to view them up close.
It seems that Pictured Rocks has always been an attraction throughout recorded history. The magnificent rock formations drew comment and admiration from the earliest explorers. People ventured into them braving Lake Superior for a just a look. Recently I found a few old stereoview pictures that were privately made. Many photographers at the time created stereoview prints for commercial reproduction. Those are most of what are found today. Occassionally, the more wealthy travellers would get personal stereoviews done as a vacation record. In other words early vacation photos.
Grand Portal facing east. This is a companion photo to the one above, both taken inside the Portal.
All of these pictures came dated 1892. Unfortunately I do not have the names of who these originally belonged to. Looking at the picture it can be seen that they had an exceptionally calm day for their sight-seeing. Unusual water for Lake Superior.
Chapel Rock and River, 1892. This is one of the major destinations of early sight-seers. It sill is to this day.
In the early days travellers would set out from William’s Landing on Grand Island for their Pictured Rocks expeditions. Often these were multi-day affairs with traditional campsites at Chapel Beach. There are campsites still there for modern-day hikers. Now it only takes a couple of hours to see the rocks. Back in 1892 it was much more of an adventure and took serious committment to arrive at the legendary Pictured Rocks.
Spray Falls in Pictured Rocks, 1892. This picture could be taken today. Very little has changed with Spray Falls over the years.