Caretakers of the past, stewards of the future
One of the most noteworthy historical sites in Keweenaw County is Central, or Central Mine. The photo above shows three buildings that are open daily for visitors. From left to right are House #25, The Central Visitor Center, and House #61. Central is a village that once was the home for over 1,200 people, and the site of one Keweenaw's most successful mines. The mine, opened in 1854, produced nearly 52 million pounds of copper by the time it closed in 1898.
(Photo: The Visitor Center has many interesting exhibits and a video explaining the history of Central mine.)
Several miners' homes and buildings still stand on the site. In 1996, the Keweenaw County Historical Society acquired 38 acres of the old Central site. Some of the residences are being restored, and a Visitors Center provides interpretive exhibits not only about the mine but also about the miners' families, homes, schools and churches. The KCHS has been restoring the buildings at Central. In 2017 they began renting House #8, an old miners house, for weekly rentals to raise income to continue this restoration process. Please see the Rental Tab on the menu above for rental information as well as a slideshow of the inside of the house.
Two hiking trails opened in 2005, a fun way to see the various sites in Central. The trails are 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile long through the woods. They provide views of several house foundations, a glimpse at the site of the school house, as well as a magnificent view of the valley from the top of the upper rock pile.
(Photo: The kitchen of House 61 displays many of the devices one used at Central.)
of Central mining families gather each year, on the last Sunday in
July, at the old Methodist Episcopal Church for the Central Reunion. The
church, erected in 1868, with its distinctive battlemented tower
reflecting the Cornish ancestry of many Central families, closed in
1903. It is reopened on each Reunion Sunday for a service of tribute to
the hardy pioneers of all faiths from all the early copper mines that
dotted Keweenaw County.
One of the most memorable and peaceful parts of your visit to Central Mine should be a walk in The Central Memorial Garden located directly across the street from the visitor's Center. While the Central Mine site is open year-round the Visitors Center is open from mid-June through early October. Please respect the privacy of dwelling occupants when touring the mine site.
(Photo: We have a group of Master gardeners who maintain the Memorial Garden at Central.)
Hours & Admission- The Central Mine Visitor's Center and display homes are open from mid-June to early October. The 2021 opening date is expected to be June 21st. Hours are 9 AM - 5 PM daily. There is no admission fee for this museum, however, a donation is appreciated.
Location- The Central Mine Visitor's Center, shown above, is about 5 miles northeast of Phoenix, just north of the intersection of US 41 and the Central-Gratiot Lake Roads intersection. GPS: N 47 24.346 W 88 12.025, Decimal Degrees: 47.40577, -88.20042
KCHS museum sites and the cottage rentals will be opening for the Summer of 2021, except the Bammert Blacksmith Shop which is closed for repairs. Sites expect to open buildings during the week of June 20th. See the museum sites’ webpages for opening dates and hours.
Public events have NOT been scheduled, except for the Woodward Concert in Copper Harbor on September 22nd and Cider Making at Central on September 25th; both events will be held outside. See the Events/Adventures in History webpage for more information.
The Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Board of Directors will follow the COVID-19 Epidemic Orders issued by the State of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. These public health orders are updated as needed, so KCHS may need to change access to buildings and events. This spring, group events held inside community buildings were not allowed. Therefore, KCHS cancelled the Adventures in History programs for the summer.
Please check back for updates.