2015 Michigan UP Travel travel blog

ORV we will use

Trails we are on

Artisian Well

Old Railway

Train Trestle

Firesteel River

Firesteel River

Smelting Chimmey

Tailing Piles

Irish Hollow Cemetery

Irish Hollow Cemetery

Old Victoria Housing

Old Victoria Housing

Old Victoria Housing

Mark's Barn


This will be our first full day here in at the Gauthier Estate, 40 acres of hay fields and woods. It is great to look out and see nature at its fullest. The weather is very unpredictable, yesterday it was close to 90 degrees and today will be in the 70’s, this is my type of weather. I was out taking pictures and the mule, Molly, and the horse, Bud, were very interested in what I was doing. As I moved around the area they were running in their pasture following my every move. Don’t know if they thought I was going to feed them or just checking me out.

Today will be touring day for all of us, the girls will tour the stores in Ontonagon and Mark will take me on the ORV around the trails in this area. First we need to stop down to the local store in Mass City to get the sticker for the ORV so we are legal riding all the trails in the area. Up here, once you have the sticker you can run on the main roads or the trails legally, everyone up here has an ORV as their second vehicle. Mass City only has one store which is the gas station, grocery store, liquor store and local hang out, matter of fact it is the only building open in Mass City. Getting gas for the ORV was a must because if you run out of gas on the trails, you will not get AAA to come and help. Gas is expense up here at $3.19 per gallon, but everything is higher up here.

We leave this little patch of civilization for our journey into the wilderness of the UP. As you see we are traveling in style on the Gauthier ORV. Riding the trails I understand why these ORV’s have seat belts in them, some of the trails are very rough. This little machine can get up to 45 miles per hour on the normal roads so hang on. Need to go a lot slower on the trails or you will be a statistic in the paper. As we get off the main road we start on the trails into the forest. We travel on an old rail bed that has an Artesian Well alongside where the tracks were, this is how the steam locomotives would get water. An Artesian Well is a wonder of nature since the water just flows out of the ground. An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached. A well drilled into such an aquifer is called an artesian well. If water reaches the ground surface under the natural pressure of the aquifer, the well is called a flowing artesian well. Mark was telling me several of the homes in this area have no running water and this is where the people get their water for home. There are several Artesian Wells in the area. As we look down the rail bed there is a series of 3 train trestles that cross over the Firesteel River. It is an awesome sight to look off the trestle to the river running thru the forest.

As we continue on, this is what the trails look like we will be traveling. Throughout the area we pass ruins of the old building that were here during the mining days, here is the stack from one of the old smelting furnaces use to melt the ore into copper.

There are tailing piles that is the unused rocks and debris from the mine that has no ore in it. This debris was used to build the smelting building, houses, and road bed. Nothing went to waste.

We drove back to the house to switch to take the truck on our next segment of our travels. Our first stop was the Irish Hollow Cemetery. Back in the days of mining there were different nationalities working the mines and they didn’t get along when not in the mine. Each nationality had their own cemetery because of the dislike for each other. This one has graves from the 1800’s with people that died at a young age in their 20’s to some that lived to 60. Not a very long life span back in those day. To this day someone is still maintaining this cemetery.

We next drove to the Old Victoria mining camp. This was an area of homes where the miners lived and the company store. Remember that in those days the mining company owned everything so the miners worked for penny’s a day and the company treated them like slaves.

Our next stop was the Minesota Mine shaft. The mine filled up with water so the area was turned it into the local skating area in the winter. The name Minesota Mine appears to be misspelled, is it supposed to be Minnesota Mine? No, we found in some articles written that the extra “n” was not in the name, Minnesota was not a place at this time so it is Minesota Mine.

We did explore some other areas like the Victoria Dam, Adventure Mine area and other trails but it was time to return to the Gauthier Estates for the night. We had been on the trails and roads for the last 5 hours so it was time to take a break. We will do some more exploring tomorrow and do hope everyone is enjoying me little trip into history



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