Caretakers of the past, stewards of the future
The Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is inside of the old Fog Signal Building at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex. The photo on the left above shows the building when it was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, complete with fog signal whistles coming out of the roof. The photo on the right at the top of this page shows the current building.
(Photo: The Maritime Museum has several displays of navigational aids and ship models.)
The story of copper mining in the Keweenaw has always been intertwined with that of Great Lakes shipping. From the early 1840s through almost 1900, the only way to get copper out of the mines in Keweenaw County was by ship. In the early days, the only way to get into the towns of the Keweenaw was by ship. Early travelers had to anchor offshore and take small boats to reach the shore. Soon large docks were built in towns such as Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor and Eagle River to provide more economical ways of shipping. Light stations were built to guide vessels around the Keweenaw and the reefs that surround her to provide safe passage to the towns of Duluth, Twin Harbors, etc. While many of these stations have closed, one can still see vessels off the coast of the Keweenaw carrying cargo up and down bound on Lake Superior.
The Keweenaw County Historical Society Maritime Museum contains displays that look at the role of shipping on Lake Superior. The museum has several scale models of ships. It has a gallery of photographs and stories of many of the ships that sailed Lake Superior. It also contains navigation displays, stories of shipwrecks, maritime equipment, including a working marine radio.
(Photo: The Observation Deck near the Maritime Museum offers magnificent views of Lake Superior.)
On December 4, 1989 the Coast Guard cutter Mesquite became the latest ship to sink in the waters off of the Keweenaw. She struck ground while making the late fall run to take the navigational buoys from the lake near Bête Gris on the south shore of the Keweenaw. After many efforts were made to free the ship, she was sunk to become another wreck for divers to visit in the Keweenaw Underwater Preserve. The maritime museum has several displays telling the story of the Mesquite and other Keweenaw shipwrecks.
(Photo: The Maritime Museum has several artifacts from the U.S.C.G. Cutter Mesquite.)
Visiting The Maritime Museum at Eagle Harbor
Hours & Admission- The Maritime Museum is part of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex and is open from mid-June to early October. The 2021 opening date expected is June 20th. Hours for June, September and October are 12 - 5 PM. July and August hours are 10 AM - 5 PM, Monday - Saturday and 12 - 5 PM on Sunday. Admission $5.00. Children free.
Location- The Maritime Museum is located in the old fog horn signal building at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex, located on Lighthouse Drive. GPS: N 47 27.592 , W 88 09.586, Decimal Degrees: 47.459865, -88.159763
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.