Friday, Nov 4, 2011
Keweenaw National Historical Park celebrated the opening of the Calumet Visitor Center on Thursday, October 27th. It’s the first NPS-operated visitor facility at the park, which also celebrated its nineteenth anniversary on Thursday.
Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and NPS Midwest Regional Director Mike Reynolds performed the honors.
“The opening of this wonderful facility represents a major milestone for the park,” Pflaum noted, “and it will be a treasure for the entire community for decades to come.”
Visitor services have previously been provided by the park’s 19 non-Federal Keweenaw Heritage Site partners, who will continue providing those valuable services for visitors to the Copper Country.
Thursday’s events for the grand opening included the ribbon cutting, with more than 500 in attendance. In his remarks, Senator Levin noted that the facility is a remarkable asset and a fitting tribute to the Copper Country community that mounted a grassroots effort for the establishment of this unique partnership-based national park.
“This is the story of immigrant families,” said Regional Director Mike Reynolds. Senator Levin added, “The visitor center tells the story of a place and a people that changed the world. This was America in miniature.”
Following the ribbon cutting, a moving ceremony where nine people became naturalized American citizens was held in an event attended by nearly 200 people. The historic occasion was also celebrated with a pasty lunch by the Lodge of the Eastern Star/Trillium and free trolley tours of the Calumet National Historic Landmark District provided by the National Park Service and the Red Jacket Trolley Company. Two of the park’s Keweenaw Heritage Site partners offered free tours at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s and the Calumet Theatre and an evening event featured the film premier of “Risk and Resilience.”
An invitational donor’s reception was held Wednesday evening to honor those that donated or loaned artifacts, documents, and historic photos for the permanent exhibit, Risk and Resilience: Life in a Copper Mining Community. The two-floor exhibit features more than 400 artifacts and archival materials that connect residents and visitors with the rich heritage of Upper Michigan’s Copper Country.
A historian’s symposium, sponsored by the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, was held Friday morning. The event brought historians back to Keweenaw NHP from around the country and Canada that had originally met in a round table discussion to refine the thematic elements of the exhibit and ensure historical accuracy of the stories to be told.
The festivities concluded with a celebratory “period” dinner with park partners hosted by the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association on Friday evening for those who made the facility a reality, including the Keweenaw NHP Advisory Commission, the park’s three former superintendents, the current staff, several of the park’s founders, construction and exhibit contractors, and key supporters.
“I thought there were some very moving moments and I felt privileged to be a part of the ceremonies,” said Commission Chair Kim Hoagland. “I am in awe of the magnitude of the event.”
For more information please contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at 906-337-3168 or visit the park’s website at the link below.