Bay Furnace Historic Site and Campground – Alger County
The Munising/Pictured Rocks area is one that we have visited more than a handful of times, but somehow we had never stopped at the Bay Furnace Historic Site until last June. On our Lake Superior Circle Tour that year, we camped on the lakeshore at Munising Municipal Campground, just a couple of miles down the road. In the morning we headed over to Bay Furnace, which features a day-use self-guided historic site as well as a State Forest campground. It’s a very short trail from the parking lot, and there are quite a few signs to help explain the significance and history of the area. This was once a thriving town known as Onota, that at one point produced almost 3,500 tons of pig iron per year.
A fire in 1877 destroyed everything here except the blast furnace, which is one of very few sites like this remaining in the state.
Another sign shows which parts of this are the original ruins and what other parts of the site were part of a 1992 restoration to stabilize the site for the future.
“Pig Iron” was produced here, and this sign explains the process in which it was melted, then hardened and readied for shipment.
Finally, another sign mentions that “location is everything” and it’s pretty easy to see why this was at one point a very prosperous location – it’s right on Lake Superior, close to Munising as well as Grand Island, and it’s less than a day’s travel from here to Marquette.
If you’re in the area, and looking for something a little different than the miles of shoreline cliffs, lighthouse and waterfalls this 1/8 mile trail makes for an informative and scenic stop.
Bay Furnace is located just off M-28 west of Munising and east of Christmas. The campground has 49 non-electric sites, and some have great views right on the shore of the lake. Some sites are reservable while the rest are first come, first serve. You can find more information on the Hiawatha National Forest page here. The day-use area has a picnic area with great views of Lake Superior. thanks to its location near numerous waterfalls in the Munising and Marquette areas, this campground makes a great base camp for Lake Superior adventures.