Uncover History with Iron Ore Heritage Bike Tours in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of rich history to uncover. And with heritage bike tours available throughout July, there’s no better time to explore the area. Troy Henderson, a historian with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, gives us an inside look at what bike tour attendees will discover.

The iron industry on the Marquette Range is a big story to tell. There are museums like the one I work at, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, which exhibits the iron industry in Michigan from its pioneer roots to the present.  There are also many physical historical sites connected to the iron industry that you can actually stand in front of and observe.  We are offering iron ore heritage bike tours that give visitors the best of both worlds.

In July, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum will host several iron ore heritage bike tours along the new segment of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.  We will start each tour at the museum with an orientation of the Carp River forge site, where the first ore was smelted on the Marquette Range in the 1840s.

From the museum, we will bike westward on a crushed limestone aggregate trail toward the Jackson Mine in Negaunee, where miners broke up and transported the ore that was smelted at the Carp River forge.  This forested portion of the trail grades uphill to Negaunee.

Before reaching “Old Towne” Negaunee, a segment of town that was once abandoned and relocated due to the caving potential of the underground mine shafts, we will see some good examples of the iconic sandstone architecture of the Lake Superior region.

Today the trail from “Old Towne” Negaunee westward toward Ishpeming looks like a park, but it was once a mixed residential and industrial landscape.  We will pass by foundational remnants of that landscape on this segment to the tour, including a stop at the historic Jackson Mine pit.  Here, drill markings can still be seen on the walls of iron ore that were bored over a century ago.

Before the turnaround point we will pass an old stone hoist house, the curious circular foundation of a railroad turntable, and Jasper Knob.  Within view of Cliffs Shaft, the iconic pyramidal shaft head frames that dominate the Ishpeming landscape, we will turn around for the return trip.

Bikers will have all earned a delicious lunch on the return trip from Negaunee’s Midtown Bakery and Café, where we will have a chance to explore “Old Towne” Negaunee in a little more detail.  After lunch, it is downhill back to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

The Iron Ore Heritage Bike tours will take place July 11, 18, and 25.  Each tour will start at 10 a.m. and the total route is approximately 15 miles.  The fee is $20 per participant, which includes lunch and a Michigan Iron Industry Museum souvenir.  Pre-registration is required, and space is limited per tour.  Find the registration form at michigan.gov/ironindustrymuseum and view the online calendar for July.

For more information about the tours or the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, contact the museum office at 906-475-7857 or e-mail Troy Henderson at hendersont7@michigan.gov.

Troy Henderson is a DNR historian with the Michigan Historical Center.  He is the site historian of Fayette Historic Town Site and his headquartered at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.    

  • mary

    I’ll have to drag my bike up there some time. Sounds like an interesting tour.

  • http://www.behostels.com Hostels Barcelona

    Wow, I’m thinking about taking my bike too! Yeahh