Eagle River became a successful port
even though it lacked a natural harbor.
Christmas at the Phoenix Church, taken in 2016. Photo courtesy of Scott Wendt.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the KCHS to you and yours.
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Announcements: All of the Keweenaw County Historical Museums are now closed for the season. We thank all of you for visiting our sites and taking part in our activities this summer. We look forward to seeing you next spring. In the meantime we'll be busy this winter changing exhibits, designing building updates, and planning another summer of activities that support the history of Keweenaw County.
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Looking out over the broad stretch of sandy beach on the Lake Superior shore near the town of Eagle River it's hard to imagine that this shallow expanse of water was once a bustling shipping port. While it lacks a natural harbor such as those found at Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor the mines near Eagle River built a series of docks and warehouses that turned the town into a hub of commercial activity.
The Keweenaw County Historical Society, The Keweenaw National Historical Park, and the community of Eagle River have worked together to develop The Eagle River Museum. The museum will focus on four major themes: The Cliff Mine; the town of Eagle River, the neighboring town and mine of Phoenix; and the amusement area known as Crestview which was located between Phoenix and Eagle River. The ceiling height of the first floor of the building was restored to its original height and new windows were installed before work was begun on designing and installing exhibits, etc.
One of the first mines that used Eagle River as their port for shipping out copper and bringing in supplies was the neighboring Cliff Mine. The Cliff was the first commercially successful mine in the Keweenaw. While the most productive time of the Cliff was 1844 to 1870 some work continued on and off through the 1930's. During the 1844-1870 period the owners of the Cliff invested $110,000 in the mine and got back more than $2,000,000 in profits. The first major exhibit for the Eagle River Museum, due to open in the fall of 2010, will examine the Cliff Mine, its importance to mining technology and the relationship of the mine to the community of Eagle River.
The museum is already planning exhibits on the important role Eagle River plays in the history of the Keweenaw, Phoenix and the Crestview Casino and resort area. The Keweenaw Central Railroad built a pavilion and recreation area between the towns of Phoenix and Eagle River in 1909 and called it Crestview. It was designed to encourage the use of the railroad beyond the mines. The Crestview Casino has a kitchen, running water, etc. and was used by individuals and groups seeking to enjoy a nice day in the country. Visitors could either walk to the shore of Lake Superior or take a wagon ride to the beach. It was estimated that over 500,000 people visited Crestview during its first year in 1909. Though Crestview was called a casino, gambling and alcoholic beverages were not allowed at Crestview according to the brochures published by the railroad..
The Eagle River Museum provides a series of exhibits devoted to the history of Eagle River, The Cliff Mine and Clifton, and Crestview. The museum opened on August 25, 2013. During summer-fall of 2013 it will be open on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 12 P.M. until 4 P.M. and will close on October 13, 2013. Donation requested.
Hours & Admission -The new Eagle River Museum is now open from 12-4, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday through October 13.
Location -The Eagle River Museum is housed in the old Eagle River School House building which now serves as the Houghton Township Community building, along M-26 near the historic waterfall and dam in town. GPS: N 47 24.769 W 88 17.763, Decimal Degrees: 47.412815, -88.29605
Need a map? Click on this small Google Map to open a larger version that will give you complete access to a larger Google map of the area, satellite view, etc. You may use this link to go to Google Maps Help if you are not familiar with Google Maps.
Related Links - You may wish to explore the following sites for additional information about Eagle River and the neighboring Cliff Mine.