Leaf Peeping Through History in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula


(Photo by Dennis Lennox)Leaf peeping in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

It’s that time of the year, when leaf peepers travel in search of vibrant fall foliage.

For me, this means combining a leaf-peeping road trip with visits to old churches and other historical places of interest. One of the best destinations for such a trip is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the fall colors peak in late September and early October.

You could base yourself in Marquette, where Michigan meets Portland and Seattle. This puts you within driving distance of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where spectacular fall colors and reminders of the region’s past, when mining was the industry and copper was king, are everywhere.

Another option is present-day Calumet, known as Red Jacket from 1875 until 1929. Still inhabited it feels a bit like a museum thanks to the Keweenaw National Historical Park that encompasses most of the town.

The architecture is actually quite incredible for a small town in the middle of nowhere. Among the gems is a Richardsonian Romanesque-style former fire station-turned-museum.

Then there are the churches, which are predominantly clustered on land around an area of downtown called Temple Square. Being a company town, the land was donated by the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company in the belief that good churchgoers made good workers.

At the turn of the 20th century, Calumet had 34 churches of almost every denomination. Baptists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and others all had parishes at one point or another. In some cases, there were multiple…

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