You may have already heard, but in 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) marks its 100th anniversary. The past century has given us a lot to celebrate on what the agency has done to preserve special places—including five incredible national parks in Michigan.
Even so, instead of looking back at the past, the NPS is looking forward to the next 100 years. We’d like to reintroduce parks to people by highlighting the varied work we do on behalf of the American people, from protecting natural wonders like Isle Royale National Park to working with communities to preserve and interpret their history, like at Keweenaw National Historical Park. Parks across the country are planning events, activities, and programs to invite people to explore public lands, take part in the work we do, and connect with the parks down the street, across the state, and even around the country.
That invitation is called Find Your Park. The NPS and its partners want you to find your park: the place where you can explore nature; reflect on how history has shaped us and our world; and connect with the places and communities that tell our American story. There’s no better place to explore the breadth and scope of the places it preserves and interprets than Michigan, particularly the Keweenaw Peninsula and Keweenaw NHP.
Keweenaw NHP is all about pure copper. It marks a place where, thousands of years ago, early American Indians began the first metal mining in North America. It commemorates the massive, industrial mining industry that led the world in copper production in the mid-to-late 1800s.
This remarkable industrial landscape is being preserved and interpreted by the NPS and its 21 Keweenaw Heritage Site partners who manage historic sites throughout the Peninsula, from Copper Harbor to Ontonagon. From towering shaft-houses guarding mines thousands of feet deep, managers’ mansions and modest worker homes, to remote mining locations deep in the forest, a wide variety of places reveal this fascinating era of American history. They are united through a non-traditional model of national park, where private management joins public service. Rekindle your technological side by touring three underground mines and learning about mid-1800s mining practices. Wonder at the vast expanse of Lake Superior from a lighthouse that has guided mariners since the 1860s. Visit the NPS’s Calumet Visitor Center, where interactive exhibits introduce you to the people that have called the Keweenaw home.
The Visitor Center also offers information about visiting the park and Keweenaw Heritage Sites. We are planning special events and programs designed to reintroduce you to the NPS and the work we do in the Keweenaw, including bike tours, film festivals, preservation projects, hikes, picnics, and even a local history competition in the year ahead. Visit us in person or at www.nps.gov/kewe to learn more. Parks are for everyone, and there’s no better time to discover that than in the Keweenaw!
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Name: Jo Holt
Location: Calumet, Michigan
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A short bio:
Jo Holt is the historian at Keweenaw National Historical Park. She trained in the environmental history of the American west, concentrating on her home state of Montana. Her first project at the park was to conduct oral history interviews with area elders with first-hand experience of the area’s rich mining history, a project that taught her a lot about mining and more about the incredible people that call the Keweenaw home.
All photos for this blog can be found in the following album: Keweenaw Flickr Album