Here, history runs deep. As the epicenter of the historic 1900’s Keweenaw copper boom, Calumet has a rich past. But today, it’s known as the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula thanks to its central location, easy access to trails, and a myriad of historical attractions. With a quaint downtown offering several gift shops, galleries, coffee houses, saloons, and more, take some time to discover Calumet.
Once known as Red Jacket, you may hear a rumor circulated by locals that Calumet was almost the capitol of Michigan thanks to the vast wealth generated from the mines and the large and diverse population the riches attracted. While the rumor isn’t true, just walk the streets and you can almost feel the energy generated by tens of thousands of immigrants who traveled here to earn a better life. You won’t blame those who believe that rumor to be true.
A trip to the Keweenaw National Historical Park Visitors Center equates to a half-day well spent. Explore the top-shelf museum’s three floors of exhibits detailing the Copper Country’s mining lore and its legacy that still shapes the Keweenaw today. From the geology that makes the area so unique to stories about the lives of the miners (including samples from police logs back in the day), it’s well worth your time. Don’t forget to check in with the local park rangers in the gift shop to learn about walking tours and programs.
This jewel box opera house stands as a living example of fantastic sandstone architecture and is still a great place to catch a show. If an evening of live music or theatre doesn’t fit in your itinerary you can always stop by during the summer months for a guided tour.
The Calumet Theatre is the oldest municipally-built and owned opera house in the country. Since its opening in 1900, at the peak of the copper boom, it has played host to some of the biggest names in entertainment, it became a movie house in the early days of movies then transitioned through years as a community theater and, finally, a venue for professional artistic performances.
Substantially restored, the Calumet Theatre offers guided and self tours of the historic building as well as performances by local, regional, and nationally known artists.
Travelers seeking some outdoor R&R should visit the Swedetown Recreation Area located minutes from downtown Calumet. Featuring 1,900 acres of rolling, wooded trails perfect for winter and summer silent sports. In summer and fall Swedetown more than 25 miles of purpose-built singletrack mountain bike trails. During the snow season, you’ll find over 35 kilometers of cross country ski trails groomed for skate and with tracks set for classic skiing, 10 kilometers perfect for fat-tire biking, and two trails made for backcountry snowshoeing. Be sure to stop by the Chalet for maps before heading out.
While technically outside of Calumet, any history buff will want to take the time to visit this former copper baron’s 14,000 square-foot mansion located in the village of Laurium. Listed as one of the region’s heritage sites, the Laurium Manor Inn is now one of the Keweenaw’s most beloved B&Bs. Built in 1908 by Thomas Hoatson, then owner of Calumet & Arizona Mining Co., no expense was spared building this 45 room mansion. At a time when miners were making 25 cents per hour, this house was built at a cost of $50,000, and $35,000 of furnishings were added.
Located on 5th and 6th St. in Calumet’s historic downtown, the Calumet Arts District is home to a mix of art galleries displaying collections created by local artists and craftspersons. Enjoy an evening stroll the first Friday of each month, as the Calumet Arts District Galleries offer an open house to showcase new installations.
Some say Shute’s (pronounced Shoo-teez) Saloon is Michigan’s longest continually operated bar. We’re not going to argue with that claim’s accuracy. Located next to the Calumet Theatre for easy access pre/post-performance, you won’t find a more beautiful bar in the Midwest. Originally an Italian saloon called Curto’s, Shute’s still has the magnificent original back bar, booths, and all the trappings of boom-town saloons. Be sure to grab a drink and dream what it was like during the mining heyday of the early 1900s.
Built in 1913, the Calumet Colosseum is considered the oldest operating continuous-use ice rink in North America and one of the oldest operating indoor hockey arenas in the world. Hockey afficionados will definitely want to make the pilgrimage to the arena which served as the host to the NHL’s Kraft Hockeyville in 2019 where the Red Wings beat up on the St. Louis Blues 4-1.
Calumet is host to several iconic Keweenaw events and festivals. If you need an excuse to visit, these events should do the trick: