Historical Sites

Ontonagon County offers more than great outdoor exploration opportunities. There is also a rich history to our area to attracts visitors every year. Learn more about the various historical sites using the reference below.

Historical Highlights of Ontonagon County

1. LaFayette Mine. 1845 Copper mining site. Shafts and some artifacts remain. Remote and accessible by hiking trail only.

2. The Porcupine Mountains highway historic marker. Describes mining, logging and trapping activity in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and history of the park itself. Pretty view and the site of the Meade Mine.

3. Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center. Interpretive displays inform about the natural and historic resources of the Porcupine Mountains. A short slide program will entertain and inform the visitor. Nature trail.

4. Nonesuch Location. Remains of copper mining and refining activity that intermittently spanned the years from 1866 to 1918. Interpretive hikes during the summer. Check with the state park for schedules.

5. Union Mine/Gorge Scenic Trail. A short, pleasant trail self guides the visitor through mid-1800s mining activity. The trail goes along the scenic cascades of the Union Rivers.

6. Silver City Mines. In the woods south of Silver City lie the remains of an 1872-1876 silver mining boom. This is now private property.

7. Old White Pine Mine Site and Town. Next to the site of the world’s second largest underground copper mine, the ruins of the old (1910s) White Pine Mine can be found. Most visible is the foundation of the rock-crushing ball mill.

8. Green Cemetery. The most visible artifact of a Finnish farming community. The old town hall is in this vicinity.

Photo Credit: Dan DeFoy

9. Ontonagon Lighthouse and Harbor. 1866 lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places. The best way to see it is to take a tour. Inquire at the Historical Museum (#11).

10. Old County Courthouse. On Trap Street. Built in 1855, and on the National Register of Historic Places.

11. Ontonagon County Historical Museum. On River Street, downtown Ontonagon. The best source for this area’s history. Plan to be delighted for an entire afternoon—don’t miss! The museum is the best place to come with your questions.

Photo Credit: Renee Holman

12. Fourteen Mile Point Lighthouse. Gutted remains of an elegant 1894 lighthouse. Automated in 1933, decommissioned in 1956. Private property, but may be viewed from the water.

13. Evergreen Cemetery. Ontonagon’s oldest cemetery. Very old and quiet, this place has a quiet, timeless quality.

14. Ontonagon County Poor Farm. The façade of this once splendorous structure can be seen from the roadside of highway M-38. Now part of the Amos ranch.

15. Prehistoric Mounds. Not much is known about the origin of these fascinating topographic features.

Old Victoria

16. Old Victoria Restoration and Victoria Dam. Restoration of an early mining village. Scenic trail along nearby bluffs with views of the area’s only hydroelectric dam. There is a wealth of historical pursuits in Victoria, easily more than can be explored in a day. Wander around and enjoy it. See also Taylor Air Compressor (#23).

17. Rockland Museum. Located on US-45 in Rockland. Enjoy photographs, antiques, and attractive displays. Also on the same grounds is the Ontonagon County Veterans’ Memorial, a tribute to those who have served our country in the military services.

18. Mass City/Greenland and Adventure Mine. Old copper mine workings dot the Mass bluffs. Most are accessible only by very poor roads. The fabulous Adventure Mine is in this vicinity and now offers underground tours.

19. Rockland Mines and Townsite. The town of Rockland is home to two of the richest copper mines in the county, the National and the Minnesota. Not much remains of either except for their “poor rock” piles, but the persistent and perceptive explorer can find locations that whisper the work of our ancestors.

20. Irish Hollow Cemetery. Some of the ancestors mentioned above. Appreciate how long it takes to cultivate such a thicket of periwinkle ground cover! Touch history.

21. Rockland Area Prehistoric Pits. For the intrepid and strong-hearted, the remnants of prehistoric miners’ work, 2000-5000 years ago, can be found in the high country between Rockland and Mass City. Back then these hills were islands in post-glacial Lake Superior. Ever hear of a “leaverite”? If you find something near these pits that looks like a hammerhead for working rock, please “leave’er right there” for the next person to enjoy. They are getting scarce. Don’t rob us of our heritage.

22. Norwich Location. 1850s copper mining and smelting activity. Formidable bluffs and splendid scenery. The subject of recent archaeological interpretation. Spectacular view from the top of the bluff.

23. Taylor Air Compressor. An ingenious device hewn into the local bedrock that supplied ample and reliable pneumatic power to the Victoria mines. Presently underground and dormant but would function again today if the intakes were exposed. Near Victoria Dam.

24. The Military Road highway historical marker on US Highway 45. Tells of the significance of the Military Road in Ontonagon County and beyond.

25. Trout Creek Mill Pond. Site of a turn-of-the-century sawmill operation. The pond was used for cleaning the logs before sawing. A restoration is ongoing.

26. Haight Township Hall. Well-preserved 1912 structure in a scenic location. On US-45 roadside.

27. Calderwood Townsite. The remains of a logging era boomtown partially covered by the backwaters of the Bond Falls Flowage.

28. Paulding Light. Is it the lantern light of a turn-of-the-century logging railroad brakeman meeting an untimely death, “marsh gas,” or headlights and taillights of cars on US-45? After dark, turn north on the Robbins Pond Road 3.5 miles south of Paulding. Drive to the top of the hill, watch for the Paulding Light and decide for yourself.

Explore the Western Upper Peninsula’s rich and fascinating history by following the Heritage Trail. Many of its historical and scenic sites have been linked and interpreted in a comprehensive driving tour so the wonderful story behind the beauty can be enjoyed, appreciated and protected by residents and visitors.

Visit the Heritage Trail Network site