Welcome to the Keweenaw

Our setting on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan provides a beautiful backdrop to a world-class education. Michigan Technological University is located in Houghton, Michigan, which was included in the guidebook The 100 Best Small Towns in America, by Normal Crampton, as one of the best rural places to live in the US.


Population

Houghton, Hancock, and the surrounding towns have a combined population of approximately 15,000. However, add in the Michigan Tech student population, and it balloons to more than 22,000.


Climate

The Keweenaw Peninsula is quite temperate, averaging in the low- to mid-twenties (Fahrenheit) in the winter and mid- to high-seventies in the summer. Winter brings more than 200 inches of snow, whereas summer is generally sunny.

Weather, Webcams


Shopping and Entertainment

Houghton’s historical downtown features a unique blend of locally owned shops, eateries, museums, and brewpubs, while chain restaurants, and major shopping outlets are a short car ride away.

Arts and entertainment abound, with local art galleries, photo exhibits, and tours by modern dance groups, comedy troupes, chamber orchestras, and more.

Travel

Air

SkyWest, a partner of United Airlines, currently services the Houghton County Memorial Airport (code CMX), located about eight miles north of campus. Daily flights are available to and from Chicago, IL. Visit SkyWest/United Airlines or call 800-864-8331 for ticketing information.

Ground

Rental cars are available at the airport from National Car Rental/Alamo Rent-A-Car.

Indian Trail Bus Line offers both in-state and out-of-state transportation. Destinations include Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Flint and Grand Rapids, as well as cities within the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Houghton Motor Transit Line and Hancock Public Transit are city-operated bus systems with routes that run from campus to the downtown and shopping areas. Curb-to-curb service on campus is available in the evenings when classes are in session..

Taxis to and from campus are just a phone call away.

Traditions

Events held in the Keweenaw celebrate community, the area’s heritage and diversity, winter, and even strawberries! There’s a reason to celebrate every season in the Upper Peninsula. The following is just a sampling—find out more about Copper Country traditions and doings.

Mid-winter (January in the Upper Peninsula) brings Heikinpaiva, a celebration of the halfway point of winter. Get more information on the weeklong, Finnish festival.

In June, Houghton and Hancock unite for Bridgefest, a celebration of the Portage Lift Bridge connecting the cities, with activities on both sides of the Keweenaw Waterway, including the Seafoodfest, a parade, flea markets, fishing derbies and a fireworks display.

Relax and indulge in the fruits of someone else’s labor during July’s Strawberry Festival, held just 10 minutes from campus in the town of Chassell. The two-day celebration includes exhibits, a parade, music, the crowning of a strawberry queen and, of course, food, featuring local strawberries topped on shortcake.

In September, the local community collaborates with Michigan Tech in Houghton to celebrate the cultural diversity of the area. The Parade of Nations, followed by a festival featuring performances and food, is the main attraction.

History

The Keweenaw Peninsula has a history as rich as its native copper deposit, the largest in the world. Mining companies in Michigan built deep mine shafts to access copper deposits, refining over 10 billion pounds of copper between 1840 and 1969.

Houghton was platted by mining entrepreneur Ransom Shelden in 1852 to support his inland assets. The village of Houghton was incorporated in 1861, named after explorer and professor Douglass Houghton. Houghton quickly became a shipping hub, thanks to its harbor on Portage Lake.

Hancock, platted in 1859 and named after American founding father John Hancock, is located opposite Houghton on Portage Lake. The expansion of Hancock was boosted by real estate sales made by Quincy Mining Company. Thanks to the mine’s location, the company was able to offer lake frontage.

But the epicenter of the copper boom was twelve miles north of Houghton, in Calumet. The village was runner-up for the designation of Michigan’s state capital, losing to Lansing by only one vote. Calumet’s consolation prize is that it will always be known as “Michigan’s mining capital.” (http://history.cityofhoughton.com/history/index.html)

Take a historical Houghton virtual tour.

Recreation

The northernmost point on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the ruggedly beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula is one of the Midwest’s top year-round recreation destinations, thanks to its record snowfalls and comfortable summers. The Keweenaw was rated one of the top-ten outdoor adventure spots in the country by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.
Outdoorsmen and -women have a lot to be enthusiastic about, with activities including downhill and cross country skiing, biking, hiking, paddling, camping, golfing, and much more.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by Lake Superior, and its pristine shorelines got the Keweenaw second place in Lake Superior Magazine’s “Top-10 Lake Superior Destinations” list. And the National Scenic Byways organization recognized the Keweenaw as “one of the best snowmobiling and winter sport destinations in the United States.”