July 2007 News
Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to celebrate Grand Opening of Community / Conference
Center July 21
By Lauren Wiza
HOUGHTON -- Tucked away in the green forests just outside Copper Harbor, the Keweenaw
Mountain Lodge has been receiving a facelift during the past year. The Lodge
will celebrate the Grand Opening of its new Community / Conference Center this
Saturday, July 21.
In conjunction with Keweenaw Krayons of Mohawk, the Lodge will be the scene
of the eighth annual Thimbleberry Jam Festival from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Several groups of musicians will entertain, and artists and food vendors will
offer items for sale. In addition, from noon to 4 p.m. the Copper Harbor
Trail Club will offer Guided Trail Hike/Bike Tours, leaving at the top of each hour,
for exploration of the new hike/bike trails from the Lodge to Copper Harbor. A limited number of
mountain bikes will be made available by Keweenaw Adventure Company.*
Keweenaw County owns the 167-acre facility, which includes a golf course, a lodge with dining area, cabins,
a motel -- and now a new 7,000-square-foot Community / Conference facility and
newly renovated water and sewer infrastructure for winterizing.
The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge main entrance retains its original appearance,
with the new addition tastefully added to the rear of the Lodge building, adding
a capacity of 280 persons to the new dining facility. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
The addition of the Community / Conference facility, with renovations, has two
objectives, according to Joel Tuoriniemi, Keweenaw County Road Commissioner, Lecturer in Business Law at Michigan Technological
University and member of the Keweenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission --
a 10-person commission that now oversees the Mountain Lodge.
"Number one, the lodge was forced to turn away any group larger than 120 people in the past due to physical limitations. Any group over 100 people
caused the lodge to close to the general public," Tuoriniemi said. "An appropriate funding source was also required to
renovate a lot of the infrastructure, which was over 70 years old."
As the sign in front of the lodge indicates, the Mountain Lodge came into
being because of very high unemployment in the early 1930s, when mines had
closed and an emergency work program, the Civil Works Administration, was
created. In 1933 timber was cleared for the golf course (presently nine holes
although it was cleared for 18). The club house was built in 1934 and renovated
over the years. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to
build the log cottages was approved.
The Lodge serves as a summer playground and getaway for vacationers and locals searching for
relaxation, natural Keweenaw beauty, golf, tennis, cozy accommodations and a good
meal. Described as "the Jewel of the Keweenaw," the Lodge has in the past been
available for visitors to enjoy only during the summer season. The new
infrastructure will allow the Lodge to be open year-round.
Janet Shea, Copper Harbor business owner and member of the Keweenaw County
Parks and Recreation Commission, took this photo of the construction of the new
addition to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in January 2007. Local business owners
supported the county project nearly unanimously in a petition conducted before
the construction. (Photo © 2007 Janet Shea. Reprinted with permission.)
The Lodge will draw more visitors to the area with the project. With the addition of
the conference center and renovations, plans are to make 13 of the 24 cabins and all six of the motel rooms
available to visitors during the winter.
"Our target is silent sports, including cross country skiers, downhill
skiers and snowshoeing," added Tuoriniemi.
Miles of cross country ski trails can be found in the area around the Lodge and nearby Copper Harbor. Snowshoeing
can be had in abundance wherever there is forest, which leaves the area unlimited and
ideal for these silent sports advocates. The Lodge has a close proximity to Mt. Bohemia, where experienced downhill
skiers indulge in their favorite pastime. Lodging will prove essential for the target
Progress in the construction can be seen in this photo taken by Karen Karl,
Copper Harbor business owner, during March 2007. Although Keweenaw
snowfall was less abundant than usual this year, skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts
still enjoyed snow-covered trails. (Photo © 2007 Karen Karl. Reprinted with
A $1.73 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) accompanied by a $10,000 grant and
$1.27 million loan from Rural Development (RD) allowed the project to commence. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation made a subsequent grant award of $300,000, for a total project cost of $3.3 million. The bid was awarded to
The construction and infrastructure renovation are complete at present. Some of
the cabins still need to be completely winterized. The Community / Conference
Center construction cost $1.2 million, while the cost for the infrastructure
renovation is $2.1 million. Before approving the project for a grant award, the EDA required the Lodge demonstrate that Copper Harbor
businesses approved. To meet this requirement, 49 of 52 businesses located in Copper Harbor signed letters of support for the project.
"The renovation of the Lodge is good. Itís a big draw to Copper Harbor," commented Karen
Karl, owner of the Brockway Inn Motel and Coffeehouse, located off M-26 coming into Copper Harbor.
This photo shows one of the entrances to the new Community / Conference
Center and its large dining area, which can accommodate up to 280 guests. (Photo ©
2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)
The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge hopes to benefit the local Copper Harbor economy as well by creating more jobs over the next few years.
The projected increase in the number of tourists to the area will provide more revenue for local
Janet Shea, Copper Harbor business owner and a member of the Keweenaw County
Parks and Recreation Commission, said the Commission has received positive
feedback from groups that have already used the new conference facility.
"So far this year we've had extremely good comments on the service and
the conference facility," Shea said.
This photo shows another entrance to the new Community / Conference Center
and its large dining area. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
Other groups have already booked the conference facility far in advance.
"We do have openings, but it's booked pretty solid through
September," said Darlene Bjorn, general manager, on June 30, 2007.
By enhancing the economics of the area, providing a conference center for increased revenue, accommodating the spatial needs of their guests,
and offering lodging and fun for silent sports through needed renovations, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is
living up to its boasts of a "personal or business getaway."
To learn more about the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, visit their new Web
* For details on the Thimbleberry Jam Fest and other activities
in Copper Harbor on July 21, see our Happenings article, "Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to celebrate Grand Opening with Thimbleberry Jam Fest July
For background on the planning for the Mountain Lodge expansion see the
June 14, 2005, article, "Keweenaw Mountain Lodge project awaits funding."
The author of this article, Lauren Wiza, of Cedarburg, Wis., is
a student at Michigan Tech University, majoring in scientific and
technical communications. She has a French minor and is seeking a second
minor in journalism. Lauren's interests include varsity cross country,
track and field and social dance and swing clubs. Lauren has studied
journalism under MTU Professor Craig Waddell.
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