Ontonagon Historical Museum

Anyone visiting Ontonagon must visit the Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum. People are saying This is the best small town museum I've ever seen.

Visitors are taken up to the lantern room for a great view of the lake, harbor, and the unique profile of the Porcupine Mountains 20 miles distant. There are also historical maritime displays, and a convenient gift shop at the museum complex.

You'll easily find the pink-doored, brightly colored building on River Street, which is actually the northern end of US 45, whose southern end is on the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Alabama. The totally accessible museum complex (including restrooms) contains numerous displays and artifacts detailing the history of Ontonagon County.The light tower is three stories high, or 39 feet from the water to the focal plane, and is surmounted by an iron decagonal beacon house, which housed the fifth order Fresnel lens and light. Around the beacon house is a square, iron gallery consisting of a platform and rail.

The displays include the replica of the Ontonagon Boulder, a 3708 pound chunk of almost pure copper found on a branch of the Ontonagon River, in what is now Lake Victoria. The original boulder is at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. This boulder led to the Copper Rush of the 19th century. At the same time as the mining hey day, the lumber industry was cutting the white pine of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. The timber that was to last a thousand years was all cut and gone in less than 50 years, leaving a lot of rough semi-cleared land. The lumber companies took the timber and abandoned the land to the townships.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park