Mining has a long history in the U.P. which brought settlers from Finland, England, Italy and other countries. In fact, the U.P. has the largest population of Finnish-Americans in all of the U.S. Starting in the mid-1800’s, copper was the primary mineral being mined here. One of the more popular areas that was mined for copper was the Keweenaw Peninsula, where there are still many historical sites to see that are dedicated to the rich mining history. Currently, the Eagle Mine has an active copper and nickel mine operating in Marquette County. Cleveland Cliffs is another company that has an active mine that is currently producing iron ore. This then gets shipped by train to the ore docks along Lake Superior where iron ore ships load and distribute. There are other mines being developed by various companies and it appears that an industry that was at one time on the decline is starting to prosper once again in the area.
The onrush of settlers also brought a diverse culture to Upper Peninsula. The Finnish settlers brought with them their love and tradition for saunas. It is common to see a sauna built into homes across the U.P. or attached to a camp. The traditional sauna is made out of cedar wood with a wood-stove and hot rocks to heat the building. Another U.P. tradition that was developed out of the mining industry is a local dish known as the pasty. The origins are not exactly known, but it was believed that this filling dish was easily brought to work with the miners which is why it became so popular. A pasty is traditionally filled with steak, rutabaga and potato wrapped in flaky dough.
The Upper Peninsula has a lot to offer and something for almost everyone to enjoy. Come and experience our unique piece of Michigan for yourself!