J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library

Copper Country: 1958 in Photographs

Everyone has their own sense of what life was like in the 1950s. The early years of rock and roll, cars with big fins, and scenes from the film American Graffiti. But what about life here in the Copper Country? What images help to define what things were like here forty, fixty, sixty years ago today, for example?

One place with some answers is the collection of photographic images from Houghton's primary newspaper, The Daily Mining Gazette, preserved in the Copper Country Historical Collections in the Michigan Tech Archives. Including several thousand images, the collection documents a myriad of topics, events, people and places in our own backyard in 1958.

Although already half a century ago, many of the images recall a time not too distant - the construction of the Isle Royale passenger ferry Ranger III, designation of a road near Redridge as "the covered drive," or a local homemade "ridge runner" snowmobile. Other images, however, seem further back in history - the regular arrivals of the passenger ship SS American, overnight sleeper cars on the Copper Country Limited train, or horse riders taking a stroll down Quincy Street in Hancock. Other images, such as a girl with a hula hoop or local restaurant owner Andy McCormick in his working clothes, simply capture the spirit of a time different than our own.

One of our favorite years is 1958, during which:

  • NASA was created
  • Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Chess Championship
  • The Microchip was invented
  • The average yearly salary was $4,600
  • A gallon of gas cost 25¢

More than 300 images from 1958 are available in the Keweenaw Digital Archives. Begin a photographic exploration of your favorite year by entering it in the search box above. Don't forget to leave comments on the images to help write the story of what it felt like to live at that time.