Gogebic County, Michigan - "Michigan's Western Gateway"


The original settlers to the Upper Peninsula, and ultimately, Gogebic County were the French fur traders that would set up fur “camps” and barter with the local Native Americans to develop the area’s first fur trade.  It wasn’t long before French trappers entered the area and roamed the trackless wilderness in search of this newfound treasure.  The fur trader made the area their home for many years until the decrease in supply and demand for furs made for the need to relocate.

In the 1840s, the war department developed an interest in the area and sent engineers to map the area.  Until this time, people did not seem too interested in the area claiming that it was “too cold and desolate,” but this would soon change as the discovery of iron ore would bring many people to the area with dreams of getting rich.

Though initial exploratory efforts started on the Wisconsin side of the Montreal River, the first mines on the Gogebic Range were developed in Michigan.  Soon there seemed to be a mine in every town in the Gogebic Range, and with a plethora of ore being mined came the need for transporting it to its destinations.  This need would bring the development of the area's first railroad system.

With the discovery of iron ore and the development of the railroad in the area, the area would become an attractive destination for immigrants and other settlers.  Soon there were smaller communities or mining towns were springing up throughout the area, typically centered around the area’s mines.  At one point, there were enough people in the area that there was a need for an electric streetcar to help transport the citizens from town to town over a 12 mile track.

By the early 1900s, the area was thriving due to the area’s mines.  The Norrie mine was even considered to be one of the greatest mines in the world and three railway lines were servicing the area.  By the end of the mining boom in the late 1960s, the area's mining lasted about 75 years and the Gogebic Range would produce about 300 million tons of iron.

Logging was the second major industry in the area since around the 1880s.  The virgin timber was harvested for use in homes all around the country as well as in the area’s mines.  However, by the 1940’s the area’s forest had been cut down and the logging industry slowed down while the forest took time to replenish itself.

Visitors are drawn to many area attractions:

  • +280 Named Lakes - Including Lake Gogebic, the Upper Peninsula’s largest lake
  • +25 Waterfalls
  • Lake Gogebic State Park - Offering campsites both on the lake and some nestled in the trees not more than 100 feet from the water
  • Cisco Chain of Lakes - The famous 15 lake chain with over 270 miles of scenic shoreline
  • Sylvania Wilderness Backcountry - Visitors can enjoy camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking & wildlife viewing
  • Ottawa National Forest - Visitors can enjoy camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking & wildlife viewing
  • 90th Meridian Marker - Located in Ramsay this marker indicates exactly ¼ of the distance around the world from Greenwich, England
  • Keystone Bridge - Considered one of the most beautiful of its kind, one of three located in the United States, constructed in 1891, located in Ramsay
  • Copper Peak - The only ski flying hill outside of Europe
  • Black River Harbor Recreation Area - Offering one of the area’s only access points to Lake Superior, also a great area for hiking & picnicking
  • Little Girls Point County Park - County park that offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior, walking trails, picnicking areas, updated playground equipment, +30 campsites both with and without power hookups
  • Ski Hills - 5 ski hills, each offering many runs for every sill range
  • Casino - Offering a little entertainment for the adults
  • Events throughout the year to entertain the whole family
    • Gogebic County Fair - Live entertainment, carnival rides, exhibits and more