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Day 19 (9.20.07) - Across the Yooper Peninsula (Photo's Add)

Rocks & Minerals and LOTS of Fall Color!

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As I was helping Mom with the Laundry, I looked down and saw a rock in the gravel that looks black with shiny streeks - it looks like a piece of metal. Hmm. We finish the laundry and RV maintenance (vacuum, dishes, holding tanks, check the stuff tied to the top, repacking) and head to town to check out the "Cliffs Shaft Mine".

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The tour started at 11 AM, and we were the only people who showed up for the tour (more folks came for the later tours), so we got pretty good treatment from our tour guides, Al and Joyce Smith. The tour cost money, but everybody working there was volunteers - the mine has only been open for tourists about six years and they are still trying to do a lot of restoration work to improve it, but it's still a very interesting place to visit. Mom started the tour with me, but quickly decided she didn't want to go into the tunnels (only the top level tunnel is open), so she waited up top.

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This was a shaft mine because there were three verticle shafts (A, B, and C) that raised and lowered miners, equipment, and ore from the mine. There were 12 different levels in the mine, each one at least 100 feet deeper than the previous (all are filled with water now, but an upper tunnel is open for the tour as well as the buildings, equipment and the C shaft). This was a hard sided mine (I'm not sure I'm using the correct terms here, unfortunately I didn't take notes during the tour so may be getting some of my facts wrong. If anybody wants to add or correct things, please add comments and do so!) Anyway, many or most mines are in softer rock, so need a lot of beams to shore up the walls and roofs. The Cliffs Shaft mine was in very hard rock, so the walls & roofs didn't need much support. It had a very high grade ore, mostly 60% or more iron content (Hemitite, like the rocks I found in the RV Camp area). We also learned that a form of Jasper and Iron layered rock is found in the area, a piece of which is in the Smithsonian Institution and is labeled as coming from Ishpeming, Michigan.

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The Cliffs Shaft mine was the longest operating shaft mine in the US due to the very high grade ore. It finally just got too deep to mine any longer (it would cost a million dollars a year just to keep pumping the water out - to say nothing about all the other support that goes into keeping an underground mine operational.) The Cliff Shaft mine had about 50 miles of track in it's 12 layers of tunnels by the time it closed. Most iron mines nowdays are open pit mines, some of which are also in this area of Michigan. In fact, we found out that Upper Michigan has quite a bit of copper and iron deposits as well as other minerals. I took quite a few pictures, these are thumbnails, so if you'd like to see what they are, just click to enlarge and get a description.

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The Cliffs Shaft Museum also contains a room where various minerals and rocks are displayed (geode's, copper sheet - as found in nature, ores, crystals, etc.) Mom really enjoyed the geodes and I enjoyed seeing exhibits of raw minerals as well as various forms of ores). Outside the gift shop was a piece of raw 'float' copper about 3,600 pounds. (This was thought to be deposited after 'floating' on a glacier during the ice age.)

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We didn’t visit the other sights in Ishpeming, having just spent 2 hours at the shaft mine and needing to make some tracks, but it apparantly also has quite a history as one of the oldest locations for organized skiing in the US. Although the terrain looks relatively flat to me, they get 300 inches of snow a year - and most of this region is considered ski territory anywhere there is any kind of small slope. So this is a big ski destination in the winter.

Since we had also entered the eastern time zone sometime yesterday - we didn't leave Ishpering until about 1 PM and we really had to get moving. Unfortunately (for our schedule at least), much of the early part of the trip was along Lake Superior - so I kept stopping at scenic turnouts to enjoy the shore. This is a 'National Seashore', but the term 'Sea' seems a little odd to me since Lake Superior is a fresh water lake - but since it is the largest fresh water lake in the world and since you can't see the opposite shore along most of the way - perhaps 'sea' is more appropriate? It was a little windy today, so there were waves over a foot at times. The sand was very soft and not as red as it had been farther to the west (in Wisconson), but still lovely.

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In Munsing was a U.S. Forest Service Visitors Center - the Hiwatha Forest covers a large area of the shoreline. It had a lot of great information and I wish we'd had more time to explore this area. We did finally leave the shoreline in Munsing for awhile, so I thought I'd make better time. I guess we did go a little faster, but I continued to stop on occasion to try to get pictures of the beautiful fall foleage (I didn't like the way yesterday's pictures came out - I've got to learn how to use filters for some sorts of conditions).

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By the way, Munsing advertises itself as "The Snowmobile Capital of the World" - could be correct, there are many roads and paths marked for ATV's and Snowmobiles. In the winter, many people use various forms of vehicles on Lake Superior. Also, there were turnouts along the Highway with big thermometer's on them reading down to 60 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) - probably to help the snowmobiler's know when it was time to bundle up?

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Finally, we made it fairly close to Sault Saint Marie - Mom wanted to see the locks there, so that's on tap for Friday morning. Tonight we are staying in Brimley State Park, which is on Lake Superior. Our campsite has a lovely view of the lake and is only a short walk to the beach. Last night, I kept Mom up too late while I organized my pictures, so tonight I'm trying something different - using the laptop in the top bunk (cab over in a Class C RV) with the curtains closed. Some light & noise gets through of course, but it seems to be working as I can hear her snoring (very lightly). Going to work a bit more on the photo's, then call it a night. Mom says forget the photo's and/or the blog - keeps me up too late at night. However, I am planning for this all to be MY journal of the trip throughout the years - so I told her I need to do this for me. Even if it gets posted too late for anybody else to care, I want the text and pictures organized so when I'm done with the trip - I can print it all out and have a nifty journal of this period. So, dammed the torpedo's - full speed ahead (aka - who needs sleep!)

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 166, Cumulative - 3,405
Camped at Brimley State Park, MI (12 Miles W of Sault Saint Marie)

Provisions - Gas $29.95, 9.48 Gallons at 113,246

Posted by jl98584 18:43 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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