Houghton County (pop. 36,628) was named for Douglass Houghton (HOE-tun), a geologist who explored the Keweenaw Peninsula and reported on the copper deposits in the area, leading to the 19th-century copper rush. The population reached its peak of 88,098 in 1910.
The northeastern part of the county is separated from the rest of the county by Portage Lake and the Keweenaw Waterway – a partly artificial waterway that cuts across the Keweenaw Peninsula and connects Lake Superior to itself.
The city of Houghton (pop. 7,708), the county seat, is across the waterway from Hancock (pop. 4,634.). They are connected by the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
The Houghton County Courthouse was built in 1886 in Second Empire style.
The Michigan Mining School was established in 1885 in Houghton to train mining engineers for the local copper mines. Today it’s known as Michigan Technological University, and it has about 7,000 students.
Hancock was originally a company town for the Quincy copper mine.
Many miners immigrated to Hancock from Finland. Today, Hancock has an annual FinnFest in June and the Heikinpaiva Mid-Winter Festival in January.
Finlandia University opened in Hancock in 1896 as the Suomi College and Theological Seminary.
The village of Calumet (pop. 798), originally known as Red Jacket, was a company town for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company.
Many of the copper mine executives lived nearby in Laurium (pop. 1,977). The Thomas H. Hoatson House in Laurium is now the Laurium Manor Inn.
The legendary Notre Dame football player George Gipp (1895-1920) was born in Laurium.
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