calumet art center press


57055 fifth street
calumet, mi 49913
(906) 934-2228


unused “depot” photographs

jikiwe and i were extremely pleased that copies of “depot” arrived in calumet in time for the christmas holiday and gift purchases. the sales of the book have gone very well, and we are hoping that this continues into the 2018 new year. however, this addition to the splake computer site contains some calumet railroad station photographs that were not used in the publication of “depot”.  i hope that the viewer finds them interesting.


station with catholic church in background


roof supports for station eaves


side view of railroad station


station – note the porthole window


station ticket selling section


bench in the station waiting room


bench in the station waiting room


railroad station interior — fisheye lens


railroad station tile floor design


railroad station’s mail box


railroad station interior — fisheye lens


railroad station interior — fisheye lens


train lantern


directional switch signal


advertisement for copper miners


suitcase for pierce roberts — train cart


train engine snow plow


open house 2017


open house 2017


winter musings

     ah, splake reader, this graybeard artist is definitely a prisoner of rat bastard time, eh. summer is long gone, autumn’s “indian summer” a memory, and now it is the michigan upper peninsula season in the long white. it seems the precious hours in a day vanish so quickly, especially when you are having fun, and the snow is knee-high and rising.

since the last entry i have had poems published in “bear creek haiku,” of longmont, colorado, and in “iconoclast” published in mohegan lake, new york. i am also very pleased that the literary magazine, “brevities,” printed in scaramento, california, published twelve short splake poems.

“bear creek haiku”

early morning breeze
small branches swaying
like restless heart



seeking serious enlightenment
without huge statue
silent bronze buddha
massive european cathedrals
stained rose windows
muslim mosques
with tall minarets
living alone
solitary wilderness days
becoming one with nature
joyful songbirds chattering
musical pine needles hum
rich evergreen scent
surrounded by beautiful wildflowers
wild thimbleberry blossoms
spring campfire smoke
bringing new poems
later cold autumn ashes
scattering words
lost in the winds




licking wet leaves
delicious morning dew
like emily drunk on air

# # # #

thelonious monk
soft jazzy touch
world full of edges

# # # #

poet’s ashes scattered
light wilderness breeze
sky taking him back

# # # #

the splake chair at brautigan creek


the recent cover for “trajectory,” edited by chris helvey in frankford, kentucky, was a photograph of the splake chair located at brautigan creek.

in “trajectory’s” editorial remarks, helvey made reference to my recent book “ahhh” published by transcendent-zero press in houston, texas. he said “it is full of splake’s own inimitable staccato lines like these from “mad memories” – “old route 66/ mother road mainstreet/ concrete road to nirvana. . . . “

“u.p. reader”


there is a new michigan upper peninsula literary magazine, U.P. READER. it is published annually and is edited by mikal classen, of marquette, michigan. i have submitted both poems and photographs on literary spec for consideration in the next edition. in addition, the “splake writing room and library” in the calumet art center, calumet, michigan, will be advertised in the next issue of U.P. READER.


the calumet art center press recently published its second title, “depot.” the book is a modest history of the old calumet railroad station. in addition to the historical text, there are several old photographs of the train station and railroad transportation. these photographs came from the michigan technological university archives in houghton, michigan, and the keweenaw national historical park library in calumet, michigan.


in memoriam

ward pratt was one of the new friends i had during the ten years i lived in munising, michigan. during those years of pursuing an understanding of writing poetry, i developed a new, deeper definition of reclusiveness..

ward and i often went fishing together. we seemed to enjoy our silent company while exploring new and used remote fishing sites. a couple of times we busted my old ford bronco through the wilderness and canoed and fished the headwaters of the fox river. many readers remember that it was the fox river that hemingway wrote about in his “nick adams stories.” however, for a more catchy short story title, old papa renamed the river the “big two-hearted.”

sadly ward passed away in november, and is greatly missed. yet, i am certain that he has found a fresh beaver dam in heaven and is waiting this graybeard’s arrival.

fox river odyssey

with nick adams

tried the question a couple of times in seney,

“anyone around who still remembers when ernest

hemingway jumped out the boxcar for a fishing

trip, and made the fox river the “big two-hearted”

of literary fame,

one spring steve at the mobilgas said “the old

SOB probably just came and stayed drunk for a week,

slept under the bridge, never wetting a line, then

went back to the newspaper and made up his fish


next spring, steve’s son alan agreed that this was

probably true,

so i decided to roam around the fox headwaters,

fish, look, and try to find out,

first dawn light drove an aging bronco torturous

miles of winding two-wheel ruts, eventually sliding

a canoe down wet grasses to pond waters, scattering

nesting sandhill cranes, disturbing a beaver family

slapping their tails making hasty retreat,

fast rising un burning off cool morning mist, drying

icy beads in spider webs

black flies constantly hovered, biting clouds of hungry

mosquitos an endless swarm, around a pond dogleg,

portaging two ancient beaver dams, finally arriving at

flooded muskeg meadow of river meanders, one plump

brookie already in creel,

large brown fish hawk lazily circling as the high noon

sun baked hot against the welts rising from my neck, when

i saw nick, shadowy figure resting under some second

growth pines in the distance, where marsh grass turned

to upland soil,

trace of bacon grease and streak of dried condensed milk

in his beard, apple butter pancake and onion sandwich lunch

set before him, laughing at me,

greenhorn trout fisherman furiously grasping at small

willow branches, ass and billfold valuables soaked by

sudden icy plunge, finally pulling free of sinkhole ooze,

cold shock reminder of tragedy waiting the unwary alone

in the woods,

nick mocking the foolish who fish during hot noon,

when high sky and bright sun make trout wary,

temptation to wave, holler adams down to chat, tell

fishing lies, smoke, but quickly recall he did not like to

fish with other men,

so i left him to the bitterns high up among the

pine, cedar, and birches, let him have his dreamy

nap, knowing later when the dark purple clouds and

orange remains turn to dusk

bottle of grasshoppers around his neck, flour

sack tied to waist, he will climb over the log pile

amid cool evening shadows, this time working the

“big fish,” playing the sandy pebbles and gravel

further this time, maybe even into the swamp.

coming events

the old riviera and rialto movie theaters in my old home town used to advertise the “coming pictures.” so, very soon, i will be reviewing the new splake collection of poetry in the chapbook “lost dreams” published by transcendent-zero press in houston, texas.


the splake writing room and library has received some recent news publicity. the calumet art center’s “newsletter” had an article about the writing room written by casey brendan. also, mariah powell did an impressive feature article on the writing room that was published by the houghton “daily mining gazette” in the “happenings” section. in the july issue of the “marquette monthly” there was a brief addition piece describing the splake writing room and library in the calumet art center.

Splake Writing Room offers free space to grow with art, poetry

By Mariah Powell, The Daily Mining Gazette, June 16, 2016

While a small space for reading, writing and learning is not an entirely new concept, the man who created and cares for the Splake Writing Room in the Calumet Art Center is someone with a unique history and viewpoint.
Photographer and poet T. Kilgore Splake, born Tom Smith, created the Splake Writing Room eight years ago after a morning chat over coffee with the center’s founder and executive director Ed Gray.

The room and its resources are free and open to the community, and visitors can check out items by signing the checkpoint log. All lending operates purely on the honor system, with no late fees or library card required. Splake says visitors often bring their lunches to the Writing Room.

In addition to books from every genre, the small room contains DVDs and photo Chapbooks, many of which were created by Splake and printed by one of the many small press publishers he has worked with over the years.
The room also includes a working laptop and DVD player, which visitors can use to view some of Splake’s most recent writings and films.

A few writers magazines sit on a side table, which Splake says he hopes will help anyone interested in honing their writing skills.

“If I knew a kid interested in writing,” he said, “he could come look at the magazines and explore interests in that direction.”

Splake’s own journey into writing did not begin until later in his life. In the late 1960s, Tom Smith was a burnt-out political science professor at Kellog Community College in Battle Creek.

In an attempt to recover from that burnout, he lived alone in Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore in Munising. One morning he was up drinking coffee, watching the smoke rise form the fire, and he started writing. That morning, he wrote four poems.

“I don’t know why I got up to write that [first] poem,” Splake said, “It was like being born a second time in life>”

Along with rebirth, Tom Smith chose a new name. Inspiration came from several different sources. First, inspiration came from the character Kilgore Trout from Kurt Vonnegut’s book “Breakfast of Champions.” Then, when Tom Smith caught his first trophy fish registration told him it was a splake. Retaining his first initial, professor Tom Smith became poet T. Kilgore Splake.

Splake’s early poems centered around woodsy and wild animal themes. Like every writer, Splake eventually started hitting periods of writer’s block. In order to gain further inspiration, he turned to photography.
Now, he said, he chases the writing when it goes well and turns his creative energy to photography when it doesn’t. Poetry is his first choice, he said, with photography a distant second.

During those early years, Splake left his job as professor, which led to several tough financial years.

Splake said during those years, “I used to cry myself to sleep, begging for the freedom to do this.”

Over 1,000 poems later, Splake’s themes have evolved, but he still looks back on his first attempts.

He explained, “Sometimes the early, simple poems have a kind of honesty to them my more mature efforts don’t possess.”


the new splake book “graybeard memories was recently published by the gage press in battle creek, michigan. the book is a brief history of how tom smith became the poet t. kilgore splake. the commentary is based on real people and events, however, the names of the central characters in the memoir have been changed to protect their privacy. the book is forty-eight pages long with a variety of seventeen different photographs. some of the photos include the omphale art gallery, cliffs ‘poet tree,’ rosetta café (splake camus corner table), the old copper mining dredge, and the splake writing room in the calumet art center.


on the small press scene, splake has had poems recently published in the literary magazines “abbey,” and “glimpse.” plus, his haiku poem “loving herself” was the cover poem in a recent
“bear haiku” publication.


private eyes

poets like detectives
bardic shamus tecs
marlowe spade spenser
mike hammer and nero wolfe
chain smokers
drinking rot-gut booze
ignoring policemen
familiar with tough guys
flirting with sexy blondes
solving mysteries
finding killers
where the money went
finally going home
with dark-haired companion
attractive intelligent woman
celebrating together


feeling a poem (2014)

just relax
deep long breaths
forget your job
all your schooling
posturing professors
ibids and op cits
close your eyes
keep quiet
look inside
long dark shadows
brain-skull cavity
imagine edith piaf
barefoot in the rain
softly singing
another sad song

“bear creek haiku”

loving herself

no one cares for yesterday
worries about tomorrow
living in the moment

currently splake is filming for a new dvd production that will highlight the “green stone mine.” the mine was mentioned in splake’s previous publication “rainbow diary.” in addition, splake is waiting for copies of his new collection of poems to be published by editor dustin pickering of “transcendent-zero press: in houston, texas. the chapbook titled “last dance” is expected to be off the press sometime in mid-july.

poet tree – lost – mountain lion

ah and so , the old adage of my distant childhood used to be “april showers bring may bring may flowers” however, climatic conditions in the keweenaw peninsula farther northlands operate on a slightly different schedule, recently very cold, gray spring rains fell across the peninsula for ten consecutive days, greatly discouraging any serious adventuring in the “cliffs,”

waking on a friday early to clear blue skies and a bright warm sun quickly warming the day, i declared it time to refurbish the “poet tree” on the “cliffs” summit for the new ’14 season,

turning tranny miles north of calumet to the “cliffs” trail head i hummed the lyrics of the once popular johnny nash ballad,

“i can see clearly now the rain is gone,

i can see all obstacles in my way

gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

it’s going to be a bright bright

sun shiny day”

     crossing over brautigan creek, past the pointer clearing and hiking up the dogleg rise around the old gray mine ruins, i quickly jettisoned the trickster monkey, quieting his naggy “hey dickhead, you don’t really want to do this” whine,

with the morning quickly warming, a light sweatshirt was comfortable for climbing, all around me wild birds were flit-fluttering here and there, trilling their poor little hearts dry,

swinging left at church junction to continue hiking to the “cliffs” summit, i thought next time i will bend right and take the red tibetan prayer flag and hang it up at point betsy and see if it will last through the spring and summer without someone thieving it,

at the path leading to the “cliffs” mine shaft opening and “poet tree” location on the escarpment edge, i was surprised by the amount of winter deadfall that had accumulated, alas, somehow i missed a zig and zag and it suddenly dawned on me that hey, splake, you are not particularly lost, but for a brief moment i didn’t know exactly where i was,

after a few minutes of cross-wilderness brush stomping i came out at the ledge on the “cliffs” where the “poet tree” was located, i found that the winter had been just as severe on the “poet tree” as the rest of the “cliffs” forested timberlands, all that remained on the “poet tree” from the past fall were some cloth packets of tobacco,

quickly i hung a new prayer flag on a tree branch and attached some fresh poems and ‘arty’ postcards to the tree, after that i snapped a couple of digital pictures to give me some “cliffs” trekking bragging rights, then quickly i was back on the trail retracing my steps to the ground zzzzero starting point and my ford “hi yo silver away” pickup truck,

while hiking a gradual incline about halfway down from the “cliffs” summit i noticed movement on the trail ahead of me, what i first thought were wind blown leaves dancing across the trail, on closer inspection turned out to be my third mountain lion sighting,

its coat was a strange mixture of dark brown and lighter gray colors, definitely not a beautiful walt disney or “wild kingdom” wild creature, and there was absolutely no denying the long black loopy tail that verified this was indeed a mountain lion and not a rogue coyote or lone keweenaw timber wolf,

when i reached the spot where i initially spotted the lion, the “cliffs” wilderness became totally silent, the once melodious sounds of wild birds were no longer echoing in the “cliffs” spring foliage, a very eerie and dicey feeling,

in my mind i asked myself “hmm, is this the day that i might die,” and i remembered the don mclean “american pie” song lyrics,

             “bye bye miss american pie drove my chevy to the levy but the levy

               was dry and them good ‘ol boys drinking whiskey and rye singing

              this will be the day that i die, this will be the day that i die,”

     anyhow, i picked up a good-sized piece of deadfall and christened it my “bardic cat whacker,” so if necessary, i could give a good account of myself, with a few more glances over my shoulder than usual for a”cliffs” visit, very shortly i was back at brautigan creek and the “cliffs” trailhead pullover,

later at my calumet bard res’ i reflected on a marvelous friday, i restored the “poet tree” after getting momentarily lost in the woods, and experienced the exciting rush of meeting a mountain lion on the trail,

not too shabby an outing for a graybeard poet and “the cliffs dancer,” hmm, hmm.



poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

poet tree

tommy “bard res”



early april morning

gentle taste of spring

sun shining blue sky

birds cheerily singing

happy melodies

on  warm soft breeze

surviving season of long winter

frigid arctic degrees

accumulating snow drifts

bastard clock hands racing

running out of ticks

greybeard poet

collection of knicks and knacks

golden aging dilemmas

toes grotesquely curling

painful foot spur steps

successful cataract surgery

blurry haze gone

macular degeneration worries

wondering about passing

new driver’s license test

dangerous a-fib ripples

changing coumadin prescription

to eliquis meds

annual chest mri

check aneurysm growth

losing teeth

yet still a decent smile

surprising realization

how sometimes distant past

seems like only yesterday

december 1936

little tommy’s birthday

margaret and emery’s son

young boy

growing up

three rivers michigan

small midwestern town

like 1950’s peyton place

always hungry for adventure

challenging the unknown

not satisfied

being like everyone else

other people choosing

boring safe routines

wasting precious lives

brave romantic

trying family life

surviving three marriages

collecting interesting memories

gayle’s father

telling bootlegger’s tales

working for purple gang

wayndotte fisherman

finding bodies in detroit river

carl and evelyn

pressing me to quit college

earning money

buy their daughter things

new 1954 chevy

seventeen hundred dollars

no down payment

years with wife caryl

sold middle class experiences

emily post niceness

buying big house

new automobile

shiny enamel and chrome

expensive furniture

fancy interior decoration

sear’s “revolver” debt

meatloaf sundays

green beans leftovers

next week’s menu

babies babies babies

shitty pissy diapers

cooking special formula

colic and teething discomfort

logging late hours

nightly rocking chair miles

olga’s husband

older swiss miss nurse

refighting ww-ii with her ex

mad bedroom mating

wild exotic sex

apprenticeship with crazy woman

yelling and crying

door slamming silence

suicide her answer

when not getting her way

poet now alone

upper peninsula ghost mining town

without wife

serious lady friend

owning old row house

mortgage finally paid

social security check

middle of the month

other retirement dollars

michigan pension

for college professor years

final outlasting

bitter classroom burn out

quiet calumet residence

piles of books and dvds

organizers full of poems

photographs framed and loose

solitary creative escape

place to push inspired visions

scribbling words

stuff for new poems

across blank legal tablet page

like ferlingetti’s shack

with kerouac ghost

big sur wilderness

gary snyder’s fire tower

summer writing retreat

saving money

for later travels

lake superior lighthouse

lonely keeper

with time to muse and write

distant alaskan log cabin

home of jack london’s

“call of the wild”

place of robert service’s

“men who don’t fit in”

vermont stone house

of scott and helen nearing

writing about “good life”

splake’s keweenaw peninsula

ancient bard house res

“beat hotel” environment

like paris creative scene

visiting beat’s seclusion

early morning espresso

with crossword puzzle challenge

rosetta café

like left bank bistro

where camus sipped wine

pressed his existential edge

soft shadowy whispers

piaf’s ghostly voice

now doddering old fart

thinning gray beard

pressing past memories

pictured rocks summers

lonely campfire nights

mornings writing poems

sweet dutch master’s aromas

seeking artistic wisdom

from boozy bushmills dreams

still regularly engaging

elusive damn dame muse

wrestling with another

poem two or three

until mind shuts down

body wears out

with desperate final breaths

wondering about celebrity

artist henry darger’s

creative talents recognized

following his death

calvary cemetery service

splake granite rock

red tibetan prayer flag

bones and ashes scattered

across cliffs escarpment

floating from poet tree heights

his mountain lion watching

poet coming home

the photographer

earlier this week i received an e-mail mesage from editor alison vyain of moon publishign and printing in fort wayne, indiana, saying the march edition of the moon was finished.  this issue has several splake poems plus front and back cover splake photographs.  i quickly put a check in the mail and ordered extra copies of the publication.  i will send a copy to marcus robyns, splake archivist at northen michigan university in marquette, michigan.  also, i will send a copy to the archives at michigan technological university in houghton, michigan.  finally a copy of the moon will be placed in the splake writing studio in the calumet art center.

recently i wrote a short piece about writer’s block and the terror of feeling that nothing creative was happening.  as a response to writer’s block i chose photography as an alternative art form that would provide me with a second creative outlet.  when nothing is happening on the blank page i am able to look at reality through the glass of a camera lens.

in the beginning of my filming i believed that the black-and-white photographic artistry was emphasized by kathleen mccann’s observation.

“for me black-and-white engages my imagination in a way that color does not.  it is timeless in a way that color isn’t.  the textures of light and shadow mirror the daily journeys we all must take in solitude.”

i chose the 35mm film format and used olympus camera bodies with separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses.  a tripod and cable release were also critical accessory items.  i believe that artificial light destroys the creative nuance of a picture.  i can remember waiting precious seconds for a time-released exposure to trigger the camera lens.  when filming i worked almost exclusively with kodak tri-x.

throughout my working years i have enjoyed considerable artistic success with my photography.  i have had gallery shows at the davidson in battle creek, alger area arts center in munising, portage view in houghton, and the omphale in calumet.  angst productions has published three splake photographic chapbooks–available light, shadows visible, and lightness of being.  also, in the past several years i have had cover photographs for many small press literary publications, and splake pictures printed in numerious national poetry journals.

ten years ago i moved from the print format to the digital filming technology.  i purchased a nikon 5000 cool-pix camera and have established a modest inventory of both color and black-and-white digital photographs.

the following are several examples of black-and-white photographs that i took with my nikon camera.

last train out

last train out

long gone long

long gone long

mad dog escape

mad dog escape

amen jesus amen

amen jesus amen

one bridge too far

one bridge too far

sweet sweet dreams

sweet sweet dreams

american flag

american flag

on my way to the fair

on my way to the fair

no forwarding address

no forwarding address



ten and two

ten and two

no mail today

no mail today

the quincy mine hoist

as a  young boy i was raised on tinkertoys and erector sets, so it is not surprising that i find the quincy hoist house a fantastic place to visit.  the nordberg power hoist is 60 feet high and its cylinder drum is 30 feet in diameter.  the hoist’s 2,500 horsepower could raise a five-ton skip with a ten ton load at a speed of 3,200 feet per minute.  the nordberg hoist and quincy hoist house is available to tourists during the summer months.

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

quincy mine hoist

old mining locations and mining materials

old quincy mine buildings

old quincy mine buildings

quincy mine materials

quincy mine materials

quincy mine materials

quincy mine materials

quincy mine materials

quincy mine materials

old quincy mine building

old quincy mine building

old quincy mine stairway

old quincy mine stairway

old delaware mine

old delaware mine

old mining machinery

old mining machinery

old mining machinery

old mining machinery

centennial mine -- old electrical connections

centennial mine — old electrical connections

mining machinery -- lake linden stamp plant

mining machinery — lake linden stamp plant

old centennial mine headframe

old centennial mine headframe

old delaware mine

old delaware mine

old mining machinery

old mining machinery

copper mining materials

copper mining materials


in 1864, edwin hulbert discovered the rich copper bearing deposit later called the calumet conglomerate.  shortly afterward the calumet-hecla company was established to successfully mine the copper ore.  also in 1864, what is now calumet was settled under the name of red jacket.  as the mining of copper ore prospered the companies needed more workers and the red jacket area quickly became a melting pot of different nationalities.  people immigrated from england, germany, france, sweden, poland, and many other countries to join the boom copper mining era.  after a very confusing period of history, the village of calumet was legally incorporated in 1929.

the country’s economic conditions were important for the success of calumet.  during world war one and two, copper mining was very porsperous.  however, during the periods of depressions, the earnings of the companies and miners was poor.  in 1968, many calumet-hecla miners went on strike.  when labor and management failed to reach a workable agreement, the mines were shut and have remained idle ever since.

with copper mining jobs lost and business profits long gone, many people left the calumet area to find other employment.  many of them moved downstate to the detroit area and found work with the automobile industry or related business operations.

almost overnight calumet became a ghost town.  this was the atmosphere that i found when i moved to calumet.  there were many fine sandstone building empty with “for sale” and “for rent” signs in the windows.   many of the houses were left vacant and suffered from the fierce elements of the keweenaw peninsula winters.  very often heavy snow had collapsed roofs and arctic temperatures had burst the water pipes.

now the principle attraction of calumet is as a summer retreat for visiting tourists.  however, this is not the solution for establishing a sold year round economic foundation.  the creation of the new keweenaw national historic park with its visitor center in the old calumet union building may help the larger local economy.  also, there seems to be a recent increase of artist and their creative talents settling in the calumet area.  so, for an optimist, the future of calumet looks good for a slow, but steady, growth.

as i reflect upon the time i spent living in calumet, i feel the following are the more important historical features of calumet:

calumet theater

in 1889, the community had an enormous surplus in its treasury and the government decided to build an opera house for the local citizens.  the calumet opera house and theater is the historical gem of the present day village.  it is a two-story renaissance revival structure constructed from yellow-brown bricks.  a porte-cochere covers one entrance and there is a clock an bell tower on top of the theater building.  inside the calumet theater there are five marvelous murals on the proscenium.

box seats at the calumet theater

box seats at the calumet theater

the calumet theater

the calumet theater

the calumet theater

the calumet theater

calumet theater ghost lamp

calumet theater ghost lamp

calumet theater--outside scene

calumet theater–outside scene

italian hall memorial

the italian hall memorial and memorial park is dedicated to the memory of those who perished in the 1913 christmas eve party held in the italian benevolent society hall in calumet.  when someone mistakenly yelled “fire,” seventy-three people, sixty-two of them children, were crushed to death trying to escape the building.

italian hall monument and park, calumet, mi

italian hall monument and park, calumet, mi

keweenaw national park visitor center

in 2011, the keweenaw national park administration renovated calumet’s old union building and created a visitor’s center for those interested in learning more about calumet and its mining history.  the center is open around the year, however, there is a shorter operating schedule during the winter months.  the visitor’s center has three floors of outstanding historical exhibits, including many artifacts and photographs.

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center

keweenaw national park visitor center


the pasty was a meat pie meal made popular by the cornish miners.  the miners used to warm their pasty lunch with a small fire under their mining shovels.  a typical pasty is a mixture of meat, potatoes, rutabega, carrots, and onions wrapped in a crust of flour and lard.  calumet now has an annual pastyfest celebration in agassiz park with a parade, music, and of course a pasty baking contest.


the calumet-hecla copper miners were very thirsty men during the time of the “boom copper” heydays.  arthur w. thurner in his book calumet copper and people, stated that in 1907, red jacket with 4,000 residents had seventy-four taverns, and its sister city, laurium, with 8600 residents had twenty-five saloons.  today the village of calumet still has a good number of taverns.  there is luigi’s, jayne’s l&l bar, randy’s, the northend, and the up pub.  the michigan house restaurant has pete’s pub, and also operates the red jacket brewing company as a brewpub.

michigan house cafe & red jacket brewing co.

michigan house cafe & red jacket brewing co.

murals at the michigan house cafe

murals at the michigan house cafe

murals at the michigan house cafe

murals at the michigan house cafe

sign at luigi's tavern

sign at luigi’s tavern

shute's bar, calumet, mi
shute’s bar, calumet, mi

stained glass canopy at shute's

stained glass canopy at shute’s

sign at the up pub

sign at the up pub

sign at the up pub, calumet, mi
sign at the up pub, calumet, mi


like the abundance of taverns, calumet also used to have a large number of churches serving many different denominations. however, when calumet’s economy declined and its population decreased, many of the churches either merged or simply ceased to be. today, the twin spires of the st. paul the apostle church rise above the calumet community and serves many of the catholic faith. st. anne’s, once the church for the french catholics, was deconsecrated in 1966, and now serves as the keweenaw heritage center in calumet.

st. anne's church and keweenaw heritage center, calumet, mi

st. anne’s church and keweenaw heritage center, calumet, mi

st. paul the apostle church

st. paul the apostle church

art galleries

in its recent history, the village of calumet has enjoyed an increase in art gallery operations. it is interesting that all of the present art galleries are located on fifth street in the calumet community. the fifth street galleries are the omphale, gallery boheme, hahn hammered copper, copper country associated artists, and ziyad and company. in addition, there is the calumet art center which has an extensive program of creative workshops. students at the calumet art center can take pottery, weaving, and copper making classes. there are also occasional music concerts and poetry readings held in the calumet art center.

weaving at the calumet art center

weaving at the calumet art center

sewing machine at the calumet art center

sewing machine at the calumet art center

textile pattern at the calumet art center

textile pattern at the calumet art center

pottery at the calumet art center

pottery at the calumet art center

the old sign at the calumet art center

the old sign at the calumet art center

loom at the calumet art center

loom at the calumet art center

the calumet art center

the calumet art center

weaving at the calumet art center

weaving at the calumet art center

the omphale gallery, calumet, mi

the omphale gallery, calumet, mi


beneath the cliff mine shaft location and my poet tree is the remains of the old clifton protestant cemetery.  for some strage reason i find a mysterious power exists in cemetery surroundings.  there is rich keweenaw peninsula history that can be gained from reading the cemetery headstones and listening carefully to the low whispers of the cemetery ghosts.

as a young boy i can recall my parents spending sunday afternoons visiting the gravesites of their relatives in the tree rivers area cemeteries.  i remember them complaining about the sexton not doing a good job of maintaining the grounds.  it was fun running around the different headstones and peeking in the small dark windows of the mausoleums.

i am a frequent visitor to the cliff cemeteries.  the protestant cemetery has an old wooden marker for john wilson who died at age one and a half in 1864.  also, i have adopted the william peters family and often pause a the granite headstone for his wife, son, and two small daughters, victims of an influenza epidemic.  i feel the engel gravestone at the cliffs catholic cemetery on m-41 is a work of sculpting artistry.

during a passing year i drive throug the keweenaw peninsula and carry my camera to the old schoolcraft cemetery outside calumet, the greenland cemetery in eagle river and the cemeteries in eagle harbor and copper harbor.

however, the calvary cemetery located a few miles north of calumet may be my second home.  while i plan to be cremated and have my ashes scattered from the poet treelocation in the cliffs, i have a stone monument in calvary cemetery which in a way says “i was here.”

calvary cemetery provides a definite contrast with the somber surroundings of calumet’s lakeview cemetery, and the sober memories of the riverview cemetery in my home town of three rivers.  at calvary cemetery there are plaster statues of angles, deer, and other wild animals in different sizes and dimensions.  in addition, there are lawn gliders, wooden benches and chairs for visitors.  one site has a white picket fence around the headstone with the sign “garden of eden.”  on windy days, prayer flags, religious tapestries, and stained-glass wind chimes float in the breeze and provide a light cheery melody.

the atmosphere at calvary cemetery resembles the mexican “day of the dead” celebration, where mexican families in a festive mood honor their past relatives.  today, american cemeteries should become a place where picnics are held, and where children can run, jump, and play on the cemetery grounds.

so the splke monument and its prayer flag exist in an isolated wilderness location in the middle of nowhere.   there will only be deer tracks left by the visitors, bird shit on the piece of my rock, and light breezes rustling the dry pine needles.  the splake spirit will have the warm company of “aunt holi”, “uhro bedoradich”, “reyno haatja”, and “hildai siljaman”, his calvary cemetery neighbors.

copper harbor cemetery -- headstone

copper harbor cemetery — headstone

eagle river cemetery -- cemetery scene

eagle river cemetery — cemetery scene

eagle harbor -- headstone

eagle harbor — headstone

schoolcraft cemetery -- headstone

schoolcraft cemetery — headstone

cliff cemetery -- wooden grave markers

cliff cemetery — wooden grave markers

cliff catholic cemetery -- engle monument

cliff catholic cemetery — engle monument