Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula



Region: Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon

Today Silver City is mostly a collection of tourist-oriented resorts and other businesses along M-107 near the entrance to Porcupine Mountains State Park. But for three years in the 1870s it was a silver mining boom town. At the fur-trading post that was the first settlement here, stories circulated about silver found by Indians back in the woods away from Lake Superior. Homesteader Austin Corser actually found the silver on the Little Iron River in the 1850s. He kept quiet about it until he proved his claim. In the 1870s he revealed the silver, sold his land, and left. Only one brick of silver, worth $723, was ever shipped from Silver City.
Iron River Silver City
Driving west from Ontonagon on M-64, motorists see the mouth of the Iron River as they pass the junction of M-64 and enter Silver City.

Soon some 30 mines established claims, and three found enough silver to build a joint stamping mill to extract the precious metal. Daniel Beaser platted a town, naming its streets after Civil War heroes and the town after himself. No mines found enough silver to make any money, and eventually they closed. After Beaser died, the town's name was changed to Silver City.
Silver City bear
Dan Urbanski
Bears are unwelcome visitors to Silver City yards. They've become common here due in part to a local business that feeds them as a visitor attraction.

Remains of Austin Corser's cabin, and the sweet Williams he planted, can still be seen by hiking up the Little Iron River from its mouth. For decades Bob Daly of Fenton, Michigan (near Flint) poked around the cabin. Now the things he found (bottles, hardware, etc.) are part of a new Austin Corsair exhibit at the Ontonagon Historical Society Museum.

Silver City pebble beach DU
Dan Urbanski
Lake Superior's pebble beaches by Silver City’s small resorts make for interesting rock-picking — and for beautiful night views of dark, starry skies across the big lake.

Today there's more to Silver City than meets the eye along M-107. Houses are on two back streets paralleling the lake but up the hill. A pleasant, sandy in Silver City is at the mouth of the Iron River, just east of M-64 and the Porcupine Mountain Lodge. Buffered from the road by cedars and stones, this is a popular place to pull over, park along the road, and get out.

As of June, 2008, the Silver City General Store has been closed. Managers of the Porcupine Mountains State Park are working to provide groceries at The Outpost by the Union Bay campground. For fishing and hunting licenses, check at the park office.

WILDERNESS ADVENTURE AND SUPPLIES i906-885-5676) is part nature store and souvenir shop, part outfitters for last-minute camping and backpacking gear. The friendly local couple who staff this attractive shop have also worked at the shop in the state park's visitor center. It's open from mid-May through fall color season. Extended hours in summer.

Silver City
Don't blink if you want to see "downtown" Silver City on the way to the Porcupine Mountains State Park. Old, established streets are up the hill.

Silver C dipper, aurora DU
Dan Urbanski
Good views of the Northern Lights, whenever they might occur, can be had from the state park's Union Bay campground and from lodgings on Lake Superior from Silver City to Ontonagon. Lakefront lodgings here face the northwest, with unobstructed views to the northwestern horizon.

Return to Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon

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Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.
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