Breaking down the name Mount Bohemia
KEWEENAW COUNTY — A gofundme.com account for the Lac La Belle Lodge, begun by David Prehoda on behalf of Troy and Cathy Westcott, owners of the lodge, contains two statements, one true and one erroneous: 1. Mount Bohemia is a geologic formation, (a mountain), that overlooks the lake and community of Lac La Belle, Michigan, which is a documented fact; 2.The recent history of this mountain’s name can be traced back to the 1860s, when the Mount Bohemia mining company prospected for copper minerals on and in its slopes. This is indeed erroneous and can be proven as such.
The mining company in question was not organized in the 1860s, but rather, in Jan. 1845; and its name was the Bohemian Mining Company.
Prior to the association’s organization there is no record of the geological feature as having a name at all. It derived its name from the mining company. However, even then, Mt. Bohemia did not have an official geographical name. In the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Mineral Statistics for the State of Michigan for 1880, Mineral Commissioner, Charles E. Wright, did not offer the name “Mt. Bohemia.” On page 58, he stated:
“This work was done in the base of the Bohemian mountain, which rises above the beautiful little lake at its foot, a distance of 864 feet.”
The 1850 J.W. Foster and J.D. Whitney Report on the geology and topography of a portion of the Lake Superior land district, Part I, states on page 139: “Lac la Belle mine – Bohemian mine. – The workings of these companies have been prosecuted on the same vein – those of the former in the base of the Bohemian mountain, those of the latter on its summit.”
Neither the mine nor the geographical feature is mentioned in the mineral commissioner’s 1883 report. It is, however, mentioned in the Report of the State Board of Geological Survey of Michigan for the year 1908, a 22-page report titled: The Intrusive Rocks of Mount Bohemia Michigan.
The introduction on page 1 states:
“Mt. Bohemia is located near the end of Keweenaw Point, Michigan, and is noteworthy geographically as the largest and most impressive mountain mass in its part of the state.”
Mount Bohemia is also mentioned by name in the 2017 Keweenaw County Blueprint for Tomorrow, which on page 29, states:
“The Keweenaw Fault and Portage Lake Volcanics bedrock compose the rugged hills of the Copper Range including Rocky Ridge, The Cliffs, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Horace Greeley, Mt. Bohemia, Mt. Houghton, Bear Bluff, West Bluff (Brockway Mountain), and East Bluff.”
It is mentioned in the same publication, on page 33, on which is stated:
“A few of the most notable high elevation points located along the spine of the peninsula include: Mt. Lookout, Mt. Houghton, Mt. Bohemia, Bare Bluff, East Bluff, and West Bluff (Brockway Mountain). Bare Bluff is protected by the Michigan Nature Association, and Mt. Lookout (Baldy) is protected by the Nature Conservancy. Brockway Mountain is under the ownership of Eagle Harbor Township.” It goes on to say: “Mt. Bohemia was developed in 2000 as an extreme ski resort with open runs and backcountry gladed downhill skiing.”
The phrase “…was developed in 2000…” is significant here, because it suggests that before the ski resort was established on the mountain in 2000, it bore no more significance than the other “rugged hills”of the Copper Range’s Keweenaw Fault and Portage Lake Volcanics bedrock.
The Blueprint for tomorrow’s statement that “Mt. Bohemia was developed in 2000 as an extreme ski resort…” is verified in documents of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. In several court documents pertaining to the Mount Bohemia Ski Resort, the resort is confirmed as having been established on Jan. 18, 2000.
Taken together, these documents establish the repeated mention of a geographical feature in Keweenaw County that bore no industrial or historical significance to the region, and not much attention was paid to its name, first referred to as Bohemian Mountain. Historical or scientific documents do not refer to the feature as “Mt. Bohemia” until after the turn of the 20th century, and further documentation verifies there was no significant industry or business located on the mountain until it was developed by the Mt. Bohemia Ski Resort during the second decade of the 21st century.
A noteworthy fact of this region, including the geographical features Rocky Ridge, The Cliffs, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Horace Greeley, Mt. Bohemia, Mt. Houghton, Bear Bluff, West Bluff (Brockway Mountain), and East Bluff, only Mt. Bohemia is occupied and is the only feature that is trademarked. It is the only feature that draws between 30,000-40,000 skiers from across the United States per ski season. According to the company’s website, Mount Bohemia has extensive ski hills on three sides of the mountain: Mount Bohemia, Haunted Valley and Middle Earth, along with Little Boho, with hiking access and bus pickup.
It is the only feature in the chain of features whose name is being disputed by Troy and Cathy Westcott.