Where will you find our stories in the Upper Peninsula? Look around you. They are in our ancient “painted” sandstone cliffs…the splintered ship hulls at the bottom of our Great Lakes…the abandoned copper and iron mines that birthed boom towns across our wilderness.
But for a deeper look into our stories, visit these 10 museums. Each tells pieces of the U.P.’s rich history, opens your eyes to the diverse cultures that still influence our region and shares the grueling struggles and world-changing successes of our past and present residents. Once you start…you won’t want to stop discovering.
- Quincy Mine
Location: 49750 US-41, Hancock; part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park
The Quincy Mine is the premier location to learn about the extensive history, culture and legacy of copper mining in the area. Highlights of your visit will include interpretive exhibits, a ride on a cog-rail tram car, and guided tours of the Number 2 Hoist House and seventh level of the mine.
Interesting Fact: When the mine ceased production in 1945, the Quincy Number 2 shaft was the world’s longest mineshaft and utilized the world’s largest steam-driven mine hoist.
- A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech
Location: Michigan Technological University, 1404 Sharon Ave., Houghton
This museum is so significant it is the official mineral museum of the State of Michigan. You can spend hours viewing this internationally-acclaimed collection of over 25,000 specimens from around the world, many of which are from the Lake Superior region.
Interesting Fact: This is home to a world-record-holding, 17-ton native copper slab.
- Michigan Iron Industry Museum
Location: 73 Forge Rd., Negaunee
Immersive exhibits allow you to imagine what it was like to work in one of the Marquette County Iron Range’s mines in the mid-1800s.
Interesting Fact: This is the site of the first iron forge in the Lake Superior region.
- Marquette Maritime Museum
Location: 300 Lake Shore Blvd., Marquette
No trip to the Great Lakes region would be complete without a tour of a lighthouse and a chance to learn about the history and importance of these critical navigational aids. More than just a lighthouse, you can take escorted, interpretive tours of the grounds and learn more about the maritime history of Lake Superior and the iron ore trade.
Interesting Fact: This is the home of one of the most photographed lighthouses in the Great Lakes region.
- Pickle Barrel House Museum
Location: Lake Ave & Randolph St., Grand Marais
Here’s your chance to visit a one-of-a-kind pickle barrel cottage and see what it was like living in it! This unusual summer cabin was commissioned by William Donahey (author, illustrator, cartoonist and creator of the Teenie Weenies cartoon). It was a surprise for his wife (author Mary Dickerson Donahey) to inspire their writing.
Interesting Fact: The Donaheys originally built this cabin in the woods at Grand Sable Lake. As much as they wanted it for a summer getaway, it turned out to be an annoyance for them. So many curious visitors came to see it that the Donaheys eventually sold it, and the cabin moved to Grand Marais in 1936.
- Top-of-the-Lake Snowmobile Museum
Location: W11660 US-2, Naubinway
The U.P. is one of our nation’s top snowmobiling destinations. At this museum, you will experience the history of sleds, prototypes, race sleds and memorabilia.
Interesting Fact: This museum was named the Best Snowmobile Museum in North America by SnowGoer Magazine in 2013.
- Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Location: 18335 N Whitefish Point Rd., Paradise
These emotionally powerful exhibits illuminate the haunting world of Lake Superior shipwrecks and highlight the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes. In addition to the exhibits, you can tour a variety of historic buildings.
Interesting Fact: You can see the bell from the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on display at this museum.
- Museum of Ojibwa Culture
Location: 500 N State Street, St Ignace
A trip to the U.P. would be lacking without an opportunity to learn about Ojibwa culture. This museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits that provide glimpses into native culture and life.
Interesting Fact: This museum is registered as a National Historic Landmark, Michigan Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Soo Locks Visitor Center
Location: 312 W Portage Ave., Sault Ste. Marie
Learn about one of the great wonders of the modern world and witness one of the busiest waterway traffic systems on the planet. Explore the exhibits in the visitor center to learn about the history of the locks and how they work. Be sure to check with the front desk staff for estimated boat schedules. You can watch ships that are 1000-feet long pass through the locks.
Interesting Fact: 90 percent of the world’s iron ore passes through the Soo Locks.
- Museum Ship Valley Camp
Location: 326 E Portage Ave., Sault Ste. Marie
You have a unique opportunity to explore this ship from deck to engine room to pilothouse. The 20,000 square-foot cargo holds are filled with hundreds of artifacts, paintings, shipwreck items, maritime history exhibits and aquariums.
Interesting Fact: It is an actual Great Lakes freighter.