HOUGHTON - When Don Spohn collected his first piece of copper in the 1930s, it started a fascination that has lasted more than 70 years.
"I had never seen a piece before, and was amazed at it," Spohn said. "It really absorbed my interest, and once I had a piece I took every opportunity I could to talk to archaeologists, and the more I talked to people, the more I found out that people didn't know much about copper at all."
To help fill in that knowledge gap, Coopersville, Mich.-native Spohn will be making the rounds to Houghton Middle School Friday and the Portage Lake District Library at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday for a presentation sponsored by the Copper Country Ancient Sites Conservancy.
"(For the middle school kids), I present things a little differently as an old teacher," Spohn said. "For the presentation (Saturday), it's going to be on prehistoric American Indian copper and various aspects of it."
Many people may not know the history of copper in the area, and Spohn hopes to inform people about how copper mining goes back thousands of years.
"A lot of people don't know that a few thousand years before the time of Christ, Indians were prospecting for and mining copper and making tools," Spohn said. "They made prototypes of simple tools that we use today.
"I hope part of my presentation will be based on the kinds of questions that are asked," he continued. "I usually encourage people to raise their hands and ask questions during the presentation as well as afterwards."
People are also encouraged to bring in any copper artifacts they own, and Spohn will tell them how likely it is the artifact is genuine, and how old the artifact is.
Bob Wheeler, creator of the Copper Country Ancient Sites Conservancy, aided in bringing Spohn here as part of the aim of the nonprofit conservancy.
"Our purpose is to identify the ancient sites of the Copper Country," Wheeler said. "We promote and facilitate the professional investigation of those sites, having almost monthly meetings and a range of different speakers."
Wheeler is helping to preserve a few ancient sites in the area, from a number of petroglyphs - prehistoric rock carvings - near the tip of the Keweenaw to a prehistoric mining site at the Delaware Mine.
"They started the Delaware mine on the same site as the prehistoric mine," Wheeler said of the site, which he hopes to open a portion of to the general public later this year. "We built a little path down there and a railway, and put some signs up."
The presentations at the library are free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at 482-4570 or visit pldl.org.