Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula

Downtown Calumet

Downtown Calumet
5th Street in Calumet, which has one of the U.P.s most bustling downtowns.

Calumet is one of the few U.P. smaller towns with a busy downtown that is more than just a single main street. It's an interesting destination for people who enjoy seeing buildings and environments unchanged for decades. Free self-guided walking tours of both Calumet and Laurium are available at the Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau on U.S. 41 (the first light) at M-26/Lake Linden Road. The guide takes you to some interesting places.

Visitor-oriented stores cluster on the first two blocks of Fifth Street, the main shopping street. It's one-way from the east as you enter downtown from U.S. 41. Some interesting businesses come and go, so it pays to amble along Fifth Street and peek in various shops. Sixth Street has more businesses, including two intact, lavishly decorated saloons from mining days, the Michigan House and Shute's, and some impressive buildings, including the Calumet Theatre, the sandstone fire hall, and at Oak and Sixth the Vertin Building, once billed as "the largest department store in the north," now with an interesting gallery on the first floor.

Oak Street developed as a business street as well because it led from downtown to the railroad station.

The Keweenaw National Historic Park is giving free summer guided walking tours of the Calumet & Hecla industrial core and downtown Calumet from mid-June into early September. Tours last 1.5 hours and are 1 1/2 miles long. Call (906) 337-3168 for updated information about the tour.

Points of interest in the dense area include Copper World, the Vertin Gallery, and Ed Gray Gallery. Here are other downtown highlights, arranged from south and U.S. 41 to north.

CENTER ICE SKATE & SPORT. Hockey is huge at Calumet High School. This store caters to serious skaters. 117 Fifth. (906) 337-1990.

HAHN HAMMERED COPPER. Very cool small show of a couple of who hammer copper into various useful and decorative objects. 203 Fifth Street.
HERMAN JEWELERS. For this versatile, fifth-generation store, owner Ed LaBonte's father Herman makes jewelry of Keweenaw greenstones and half-breeds (copper and silver) and Lake Superior agates. There's also a coin department. Ed's repertoire of useful repairs includes fixing clocks and watches and soldering broken eyeglass frames. 220 Fifth. (906) 337-2703. Mon-Sat 9:30-5 and by appointment. Wheelchair access: one step.

NORTHWOODS MEMORIES. The inspiring family history scrapbooks created by owners Mary Witheridge and Jeannie Anderson show what beautiful, informative, creations of archival quality can come from snapshots and studio portraits without any obvious drama. Ask to see them! Mary and Jeannie's business happened without any small business loan or other special funding help. They're thrilled to be away from the sprawl that overtook their former homes in Waterford, northwest of Pontiac.
Customers can come in and work, using special scissors and getting ideas, for a small hourly fee. There are so many scrapbooking papers available that each shop has different inventory. Mary and Jeannie participate in an annual fair with other shops in the area. 320 Fifth between Oak and Elm. (906) 337-4007. Open Mon-Thurs 10-6, Fri 10-7, Sat 10-5.

Rick Oikarinen
Rick Oikarinen, owner of Cross Country Sports. In the 1950s, Rick's dad pioneered the sales of cross country sales in the Midwest, the second oldest such retailer in the country. Rick added bicycles to provide a source of year-round sales. He's one of the enthusiasts who created the acclaimed Swedetown Ski Trails near Calumet.

CROSS COUNTRY SPORTS. Staffed by owner Rick Oikarinen and a crew of avid mountain bikers and cross-country skiers who helped develop the Swedetown Trails. They are happy to give visitors specifics on the area's fabulous mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing opportunities. Sales and rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes. Downtown at 506 Oak between 5th and 6th. (906) 337-4520. Open Mon-Fri 9:30-6, Sat to 5. Wheelchair access: one step.

Michigan House II

The MICHIGAN HOUSE CAFÉ and BREWPUB is in the corner railroad hotel, restaurant, and saloon from 1906. The original saloon interior is well worth a look for its elaborate tile floor and massive bar with a wonderful mural showing jolly German picnickers, all drinking Bosch Beer, brewed in nearby Lake Linden. The greens and browns of numerous stained-glass windows, lamps, and backlit doors harmonize with the mural. The bar is the best part, but there's a surprising Moorish fireplace in the dining room. Take a peek even if you can't stop in for a bite.
Tim and Sue Bies, longtime Keweenaw visitors and fans, were visiting their son at Michigan Tech in 2000 when they saw the foreclosure sign. Their kids were grown up, and they were seized by the idea of rehabbing the hotel and starting a restaurant. Within six months Tim had quit his mechanic job in Alpena, Sue had sold her play therapy business, and they moved up to tackle the renovation. They hauled out over two tons of trash and bad plaster. A new ventilation system has done a lot to remove the smell of decades of beer and tobacco. Neither had any restaurant experience, though Tim had grown up on a family-run resort on Houghton Lake, surely an initiation to the unremitting work required by owning and running a restaurant in an old building requiring constant maintenance. Sue and Tim studied up intensively, with good results in terms of both food and atmosphere. Their work on this local landmark is much appreciated. Occasional weekend entertainment adds to Calumet's nighttime scene. Tim and Sue have made the third floor into their residence and created weekend kitchenette apartments on the second floor. At Sixth and Oak. Open 11:30-10. Closed Wednesday. (906) 337-6849. Wheelchair: yes.

THE VERTIN BUILDING. This handsome, four-story brick department store building was the showplace of the north when it opened in the 1880s. Its scale and style are more that of St. Louis or Milwaukee, with lots of big windows. Its major tenant is the impressive Vertin Gallery. 220 Sixth at Oak.

CALUMET POST OFFICE. Inside is a dramatic W.P.A. mural of broad-backed miners at work deep within the earth. Sixth at Portland.

Shute's Bar

SHUTE'S 1890 BAR. Next to the Calumet Theatre, this landmark saloon is a friendly and ungentrified local gathering spot that welcomes visitors from down below. Originally it was an Italian saloon, Curto's. Shute's (pronounced SHOOT-eez) is the Croatian surname of Bernie Shute, still an occasional customer, and his father, who ran it for 76 years between them. (The name in Croatian was actually Sutj.) Shute's still has the magnificent original back bar, booths, and all the trappings of boom-town saloons. The bar itself has a splendid stained-glass canopy with vines. Elaborate plaster caryatids frame the raised dance floor. The owner's restoration has won high praise. The long scenic mural of Calumet in the mining days is a 21st-century creation. 322 Sixth, next to the Calumet Theatre. (906) 337-1998. Open daily, noon to closing (2 a.m. or whenever no one's there). Wheelchair access: two steps.

UPPER PENINSULA FIREFIGHTERS' MEMORIAL MUSEUM. The historic Red Jacket fire station is an impressive old sandstone building, an important part of the Sixth Street streetscape. The museum consists of a few old fire engines (a 1919 LaFrance, a 1930 LaFrance, a 1942 Ford) and miscellaneous memorabilia. You can see the firemen's quarters upstairs, pretty much as they were left 20 or so years ago. Signs are sometimes duct taped to vehicles, and interpretation is minimal. Skip this unless you are quite interested in firefighting equipment. 327 Sixth St. across from the Calumet Theatre. No phone. Mid- June into early Sept. Mon-Sat 1-4. Donations appreciated. Wheelchair access: ground level only.

Return to Calumet

Downtown Calumet. Bustling again, downtown was hopping 24 hours a day when the mining boom was at its zenith, from 1890 to 1913. Today it features Ste. Anne's ethnic museum, lavish historic taverns, plus outstanding shops and galleries: skis, bikes, copper books and gifts, minerals, jewelry, beads, art glass, Ojibwa pottery, beads, and more ... more

Swedetown Ski Trails. One of the most splendid cross-country ski spots in the Midwest has a beautiful setting with a variety of trails ... more

Vertin Gallery. An exceptionally pleasant gallery on the main floor of an old department store features juried works of 130 regional artists ... more

Copper World. One of the U.P.'s most successful gift/visitor/accessories shop has many items of copper and much more Keweenaw-themed things ... more

Coppertown Mining Museum and Gift Shop. Mining aficionados, woodworkers, and those interested in machines, foundries, and labor and Copper Country history won't want to miss this seasonal museum. ... more

Albion Station Glassworks. In an old streetcar station, a glassblower melts recycled bottles to make and sell vases, plates, bowls & carafes ... more

Calumet Theatre and Village Hall. One of the Kewenaw's glories, the elaborate 1899 opera house looks much as it did when touring stars played here in mining days. Authentically restored paintings and ornament. A memorable venue for concerts, films, plays. Tours available. ... more

Ziyad & Co. One of the U.P.'s top galleries shows the works of 70 artists ... more

Norwegian Lutheran Church. Norwegian Lutheran Church resembling Old Country architecture, once a wreck, being painstakingly restored. ... more

Calumet's North End. Cheap, often ornate historic storefronts have attracted several original shops: a bookshop/coffee bar, art gallery, dazzling antiques/gems/jewelry store, and the area's best frame shop. ... more

Site of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster. 73 people, mostly children, died in the stampede that followed when someome yelled "Fire!" in the Italian social hall. It was the 1913 copper strike's defining event, memorialized in song by Woody Guthrie and others, and in story, photos, vivid websites, and a film. ... more

St. Paul the Apostle Church. A magnificentl Catholic church built by Slovenians between 1903 and 1908. Seasonal afternoon tours show off the splendid stained glass, paintings, and altar. ... more

Keweenaw History Center. Built by the wealthy Calumet & Hecla copper company as a community library, this unusual stone-faced building contains office and work areas of the Keweenaw National Historic Park. Some day it will house the Keweenaw History Center. ... more

Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau. Free tourism and history handouts and knowledgeable advice. Booklet and website include all Keweenaw parks and natural areas. A highly recommended stop for anyone spending time in the area. ... more

Shute's 1890 Bar. Legendary U.P. bar from the roaring copper mine boom times. Great interior, classic brick exterior, friendly place ... more

Our new interactive map to U.P. motels that offer exceptionally low rates. See also our useful detailed maps to U.P. TOWNS. These custom-made maps locate landmarks and attractions.
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