Central Mine Historic District – Keweenaw County
Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to mining ruins, but few sites can match the price (free), access and scenery of what used to be the thriving mine town of Central. Located off of US-41 north of Houghton and south of Copper Harbor, this historic district just north of the M-26/US-41 has several buildings that have been restored to excellent condition and some short hiking trails to ruins. The site is maintained by the Keweenaw Historic Society, and what we found especially awesome on our last visit was that they leave the area unattended for self-guided visits. Maps can be picked up inside the visitor center when it’s open.
Heading up the main road and straight past the four-way intersection is the way to reach my favorite part of the site, the powder house ruins. Look for this sign on the left:
The hike into the woods is about a quarter mile, and the two distinctly different colored bricks used helps this building stand out in the woods.
The doorway appears to have been reinforced a bit, but this is still one of the more stunning remnants of the old town:
Heading back on the trail that came in to the Powder House, follow a branch to the southwest which will lead to the ruins of the old school. There isn’t much left here, but it is fairly easy to pick out the four corners of the old structure:
The school trail will loop back out to the main road, and a trip south followed by a right turn (west) onto Stagecoach road will lead to a few houses (now summer cottages). Central was a busy mining town from the 1850s until 1898, with most of its residents coming from England. There were once more than 130 residents here, but it now has the feel of a “ghost town” – in two visits to the area we have been the only people around.
One of the most recognizable buildings on Stagecoach Rd. is the Methodist Church, which is painted yellow and brown and is one of the tallest buildings still standing.
Heading east on Stagecoach Rd (and back through the intersection) will lead to more ruins, including what is left of the No. 2 Steam Hoist, shaft and compressor.
Back near the visitor center, a brown sign similar to those found throughout the rest of the county, which tells of Central Mine’s history – enjoy your visit!