Boundary issues: Where does Calumet leave off and where does it begin?

Where does Calumet leave off and where does it begin?

Library of Congress This May 1908 Sanborn Insurance Company map shows the confusion surrounding the village of Calumet (Red Jacket in 1908) and the surrounding neighborhoods, such as Blue Jacket, Yellow Jacket, Newtown and others. According to this map, the boundary of the village is between Scott Street, to the south, Pine Street, to the north, Fourth Street the East, and Eighth Street, to the north.

[This is the second in a series that examines Calumet Village’s vision for its future and its dedication to returning the village to prosperity.]

CALUMET — As village officials continue updating the village Master Plan, they have continuously sought feedback from residents on their concerns, views and perceptions of the village, as well as their visions for its future. One concern expressed by many, both in and out of the village, is confusion over just where Calumet ends and Calumet begins. In other words, just what are the boundaries of Calumet Village within Calumet Township?

Village Manager Megan Haselden said that when most people talk about Calumet, they are generally talking about those areas in Calumet Township, beyond the Calumet Village limits. This confusion has existed since the village, originally named Red Jacket, was founded in 1867. In fact, there is even confusion as to when the village was founded. In order to understand the issues facing the village, it is important to understand the source of the confusion, as well as its significance, because place names and location names are confusing.

Edwin Hulbert was a civil engineer when he was given a contract to survey a new road between Copper Harbor and Portage Lake in 1859. It was while he was surveying the road that he located and unearthed what would become known as the Calumet Conglomerate Lode, in 1864.

In order to secure the sections of land necessary to exploiting the lode, Hulbert established the Hulbert Mining Company, apparently intending it to become a holding company for additional companies organized by him. Among them was the Red Jacket Mining Company, organized in 1864. This company sank an exploratory shaft west of the present Calumet & Hecla Mining Company library building.

Hulbert’s company was not able to secure that section of land, according to the Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. semi-centennial edition of the Keweenaw Miner, published in 1916. He did, however, secure the land to the north of the Red Jacket Company in 1865. He also secured the property to the west of the Calumet property, and on that he organized the Red Jacket Mining Company, where he sank an exploratory shaft near what became Red Jacket Road, to the north of where C&H built its stone library in 1898.

Hulbert abandoned the mine, but not the property. It was on the Red Jacket property in 1867 that he platted the streets for the village that would officially bear the company’s name when the village was incorporated in 1875.

Hulbert found investors for the Hulbert Mining Company venture, including Quincy A. Shaw and Alexander Agassiz. In 1866, Shaw and Agassiz were able to purchase both tracts of land, which they leased to Hulbert, on which he established the Calumet Mining Company and the Hecla Mining Company, to the south. The boundary between the two is the present-day Red Jacket Road.

While the Calumet and the Hecla mines were being opened, the Houghton County Board of Supervisors succeeded in separating the northern section of Franklin Township, which was organized into Calumet Township, in November 1866. This, of course, would add more confusion later.

In December 1866, Hulbert’s lease expired and was not renewed. The Hulbert Mining Company became the Calumet Mining Company and the Hecla Mining Company, with Agassiz as president of both. The richness of the Calumet Lode prompted Agassiz to recruit workers, all of whom would require housing. As Arthur Thurner in his essay, Red Jacket/Calumet: The First Century, published in the Village of Calumet, Michigan, 1875-1975 Souvenir Centennial Book, wrote:

“Red Jacket was ‘town’ for the many people who lived in the surrounding mining areas — Calumet, Hecla, Blue Jacket, Yellow Jacket, Tamarack, Albion, Raymaultown and Red Jacket Shaft.”

The need for the eventual changing of Red Jacket’s name is apparent, Thurner wrote.

“Both the headquarters area of the mining company and township were named Calumet,” he explained. “Also, ‘Calumet’ was used to refer collectively to the surrounding mining locations with their shafts and rows of company houses, the village of Laurium which developed as a residential ‘suburb’ and Red Jacket.” To add further to confusion, he continued, the village of Laurium, until 1895, was known as Calumet Village.

Changing names has not decreased the confusion as to where Calumet Village’s boundaries lay within the surrounding area.

“People don’t see your boundaries,” said Haselden. “When they speak of Calumet, they’re really speaking of all of Calumet; they’re not really thinking of just the village.”

Understanding the boundary lines is important for village, township, state and federal planners, as the village continues to revitalize itself.


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