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Zach of All Trades/Zach Kukkonen

Stories of Copper Country past

July 23, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

It was a Copper Country bride's worst nightmare.

Here she was, preparing for one of the happiest day of her life, and the bridge gets stuck, with the groom and the church waiting on the other side.

With fire trucks from both Houghton and Hancock hosing down the bridge on a blazing hot day, what else could she do but hike her wedding dress to her knees, and walk over the sopping wet bridge to meet her groom.

This is but one of the many classic Copper Country stories from decades past I hear when visiting my grandparents in Chassell.

In an age where it's hard to disconnect from our TVs and phones, sometimes it's nice to just sit down and talk with family and friends. While my attention span seems to be getting worse by the day, there's nothing better than taking some time out to listen to true tales spun about the Copper Country of yore.

Stories about the swing bridge, my grandparents' store in Hancock, dressing up in crazy costumes for Halloween parties with their friends - all of these give me a better appreciation for the area. Memories of my biannual visits to the Keweenaw growing up are mainly confined to the arcade that used to reside in the mall and spending all day in Portage Lake, so it's nice to learn more and more as the years go by.

Just through spending an hour here, a few hours there with my grandparents has given me so much more knowledge about my roots here and what a blessing it has been to return here for a few years. All the sights and sounds I heard about growing up I now take for granted, and all the history ingrained in the Copper Country has become much more authentic to me.

The stories I've heard have also helped me know my extended family a little better. Much of my extended Kukkonen family is interspersed throughout the country, so I don't get to speak with them as much as I'd like. This way, even if I don't get to communicate with everyone, at least I know a bit more about them. Also, now that I'm 26, I get to hear some entertaining tales that went untold to my younger ears.

So thank you Grandma and Grandpa. You've given me a greater appreciation for family, the area and most of all, for you two.

Zach Kukkonen can be reached at zkukkonen@



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