Michigan Roadside Attractions: The Jampot, Eagle Harbor
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
Located right next to Jacobs Falls just south of Eagle Harbor, Michigan is The Jampot, a small store where monks from the Holy Transfiguration Skete Society of St. John sell various jams and jellies, fruitcake and other baked goods. The Upper Peninsula proved to be an excellent place for a monastery where prayer and solitude could be focused on. Sales of jams and jellies and baked goods provide the sole source of income for the monks, and the combination of a prime location for tourists and a quality product that travelers return home and tell their friends about have helped sales take off to the point where year-round online ordering is now available. The Society of St. John website provides some background information: “We are a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite, under the jurisdiction of The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago, and belonging to the Ukrainian Metropoly in the United States of America, which is in union with the Pope of Rome, supreme pastor of the universal Church. We embrace evangelical poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability of life, according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the traditions of the Christian East. In our skete at Jacob’s Falls, on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, we devote ourselves to a common life of prayer and work for the praise, love, and service of God and for the upbuilding of His Kingdom through the Arts.”
I vaguely remember seeing a small building near Jacobs Falls when we visited the Keweenaw int he late 1990s and early 2000s. Our curiosity wasn’t fully piqued until a few friends living in the U.P. said this was a can’t-miss stop on the way to Copper Harbor. The Jampot built and moved into a much larger building closer to the falls in 2015, allowing for increased production. The name Poor Rock Abbey was chosen for the jams and jellies, a nod to the piles of useless rock left over from mining operations near here and throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula.
When we visited most recently in 2016, we were also made aware of trails behind The Jampot that led to the Arnold Mine ruins and a small waterfall. The monks have been able to purchase this land over the years and have maintained trails and also removed a great deal of debris from the mine ruins. There are many benches along the paths, and this is clearly a frequently-visited spot for the monks as they seek tranquility and reflection. We thought it was amazing that this path is (as far as we were able to find out) open to the public and it was great to knock another waterfall of our list and explore yet another collection of mine ruins. To reach the trailhead either ask for directions at the store, or from Eagle River turn and follow Garden City Road for a little over three miles, then bear left at the fork with Eagle Harbor Cutoff and look for a parking area and a gate on the left side of the road.