~Friday, July 30, 2021~
Our final full day in the U.P. and we couldn’t ask for better weather. Clear as a bell, no wind and a perfect day for exploring. We took the recommended 9-½ Brockway Mountain Drive to the top of Brockway Mountain for stunning views of Lake Superior, thousands of acres of the Keweenaw, Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands.
Even with some haze and cloud cover, it was still beautiful and I can't even imagine what it would look like on a clear day. From this vantage point, you really get a true sense of just how immense this lake is. It is the highest above sea-level drive between the Rockies and the Alleghenies and we were only at 1600 feet. Apparently April thru June is the perfect time to be at this spot to view the migration of birds-of-prey.
Next was our descent to the town of Copper Harbor. This town is the northernmost city in Michigan in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Many consider this area to be the best section of beaches of Lake Superior and the best mountain biking trails in the U.P. We stopped at the Copper Harbor viewing deck to get a view of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866, now a part of the 700-acre Ft. Wilkins State Park Complex. There is no public access.
Though we had plans to drive to Ft. Wilkins State Park, we had no idea there’d be so much to see there. So in hindsight, we wished we had more time to take in all the history about this fort. It was built in 1844 for the purpose of keeping order during the Copper Rush. Even though copper was discovered in this area, it wasn’t as successful as they dreamed it would be, which is why the complex’s purpose was short-lived. Only after 2 years of operation, the Army complex was shut down due to bigger prospects of copper south of Keweenaw. It’s really a shame, when you see just how much went into really dialing this place in. The Army built 27 structures which included
a guard house/jail, powder magazine, 7 officers quarters, 2 barracks, 2 mess halls, hospital, storehouse, bakery, blacksmith shop, carpenter’s shop, icehouse, stables and a slaughterhouse. Several of these buildings have survived and been restored, others have been rebuilt after archaeological discoveries. Fort Wilkins became a state park in 1924 with restoration work and development beginning in the 1930’s. To this day, they continue their preservation of this worthwhile site for all to enjoy.
The weather really took a detour with increased clouds and cooler temps. By the time we got back to our campsite, we turned on the fireplace if that’s any indication. The wind and rain arrived around 1:00 a.m. (yes I was still up). Let’s just hope the weather clears up for our departure tomorrow.