While exploring the Iron Ore Heritage Trail on a run last week, I found something interesting and quite unexpected! This area I’m currently living in, the around surrounding Marquette, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, has a lot of ties to mining in its history. Honestly, mining is what provided the boom for enough people to come and settle here to actually give the area its population. One of the major players in the mining industry up here has been the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, and love them or hate them, the company has provided a lot of jobs over the years here in the U.P. CCI was huge here, and one of the endeavors of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives has been to collect and preserve the documentary history of the company and the impact it had on the residents, natural landscape, and economic situation of the Upper Peninsula.
Well, on this particular exploration of the Trail, I found that, literally just lying on the trail, was an old book. I looked at the first page (the cloth bound book’s front and back covers were missing), and saw that it was a ledger for processing preferred stocks from CCI dating 1929-1931. I immediately grabbed it and brought it home (as it had begun to violently storm). After letting it dry and letting the bugs run out, I contacted my friends at NMU’s archives and they were thrilled to say the least. I brought it to them the next day and then we went on a field trip so I could show them the building where I was pretty sure it had been stored. There was only one building that was close to that part of the trail, and it is an old hoist house, and according to An Old Finnish Man, it is actually the oldest building left in Ishpeming. A hoist house is something that I’m trying to learn a little more about, but it looks like this was just storage for the mine. Typically, a hoist house literally houses the mining hoist. There are a few examples of remaining hoist houses around the UP – one being the Quincy Mine No. 2 Hoist House in Houghton, Michigan. This one has been preserved, rather than abandoned like the one in Ishpeming. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, which is pretty significant. Regardless, the one here in Ishpeming seems to house previously unknown documents relating to CCI and hopefully this means that there will be more exploration of the building and its possibly historical contents!! I am excited and hope I get to be a part of this adventure into history!