Sault Ste Marie to Crystal Falls, MI., Iron Cty Museum, Iron Mine Tour

Crystal Falls Travel Blog

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Bewabic State Park

My visit in Sault Ste Marie was great and seeing the huge ships transiting the locks there was an experience I have always wanted to experience. All to soon it was time to move on as I wanted to complete the northern states before I ran out of good weather.

People had told me that an area that should not be missed was the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I decided to drive west along the UP and then go south to a very nice State Park almost on the Wisconsin border. Bewabic State Park. The park was affiliated with the discount camping group, Passport America which influenced my decision to stay there. Got quite a surprise when I checked in as they charged me an additional $29.00 fee to use Michigan State Parks. This I felt was unreasonable as I was paying for the daily camping fee so why an additional charge? Well, I paid it and found my campsite and got set up.

Iron County Museum
Unfortunately I was so far in the boondocks that I had no phone or internet service. Really roughing it!

Discovered I was in Iron Country and took a ride down to Caspian where I spent several hours touring the Iron County Museum. This is in the heart of the iron mining area of southern peninsular of Michigan. All of the mines are closed because the ore mined there has some elements that are undesirable. Millions of tons were mined out of the mines that were active in the early part of the 1900's. The museum was packed with displays of many artifacts of life back then. Good stuff. Logging is still active with huge trucks moving loads to the mills some with 10 sets of 4 tires plus the front making a total of 42. And we think 18 wheelers are big! The logs are cut to 8 foot lengths and loaded sideways on the trucks which allows a much bigger load.

Iron Mine
Almost all are pulp logs with some of the better hardwood reserved for veneer or dimensional use.

Another day, I took a ride down to Vulcan and toured an Iron Mine. We boarded a little mine train, put on a hard hat and rain slicker and traveled 2600 feet into the side of the mountain. Kind of spooky I must say. The day was quite hot but inside the mine, it dropped to the 40's and I was glad I had put on a jacket before going in. This mine stopped production in 1945 after the end of WW2 because of a drastic decline in demand for iron and a resulting decrease in price per ton. Once the train stopped inside the mine we walked through several tunnels where the guide explained how the ore was mined and we saw where the good ore was located and dug out.

Iron Mine, Big John
Unlike a gold mine, this was hard rock mining and as a result, did not need any support for the tunnels. They were just cut into the rock. All of the 50 or so mines in this area from Crystal Falls to Vulcan are closed and have been for 50 or more years. The ore in this mine was as high as 73% iron and was found in 2 pockets called stopes. A very interesting tour and one that should not be missed. Don't go in if you are the least bit claustrophobic.

Summary: Elk RV Parking: 50; Escapee RV Parks: 26; Public RV Parks: 42; National Parks: 55; Ships: 17; Forts: 28.

Expenses: 47 months on the road with an average of $1960/month

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Bewabic State Park
Bewabic State Park
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron Mine
Iron Mine
Iron Mine, Big John
Iron Mine, Big John
Iron County Museum
Sleds
Iron County Museum Sleds
Logging Camp
Logging Camp
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Bewabic State Park
Bewabic State Park
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Iron County Museum
Me at the Iron Mine
Me at the Iron Mine
Iron Mine train
Iron Mine train
Iron Mine train
Iron Mine train
In the Iron Mine
In the Iron Mine
Tunnel wall
Tunnel wall
Mining tools
Mining tools
Mining tools
Mining tools
map of the ore location
map of the ore location
Train
Train
Crystal Falls
photo by: kensac