Bessemer, Michigan, located in the heart of the Upper Peninsula, has a rich history that has shaped the area into what it is today. Throughout the years, several significant historical events have taken place in and around Bessemer, each of which has added to the unique cultural landscape of the town. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Bessemer, Michigan.
1. The discovery of iron ore
In the early 1800s, William A. Burt, a geologist, made the first documented discovery of iron ore in the Upper Peninsula. This discovery led to the Iron Range, which became one of the largest iron mining regions in the world. The Iron Range is located just north of Bessemer and has had a significant impact on the local economy and culture.
2. The Gogebic Range fire
In 1894, a devastating forest fire ravaged the Gogebic Range, killing several people and destroying large areas of land. The fire is believed to have started from a locomotive spark and quickly spread due to dry conditions. The towns of Bessemer and Ironwood were spared from the flames, but the fire left a lasting impact on the region.
3. The formation of the town of Bessemer
Bessemer was founded in 1884 and named after Sir Henry Bessemer, an English inventor who developed the Bessemer process for creating steel. The town quickly grew due to the mining industry, and by the turn of the century, it was one of the largest iron mining towns in the region.
4. The mining strikes of 1913
In 1913, a series of mining strikes took place in the Upper Peninsula, including the Gogebic Range. The strikes were led by the Western Federation of Miners, who were fighting for better wages and working conditions. The strikes were met with violence from mine owners, and several miners were beaten and arrested.
5. The formation of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
In 1945, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park was established. The park, located just south of Bessemer, covers over 60,000 acres and features 90 miles of hiking trails, several waterfalls, and stunning views of Lake Superior. The park attracts over 300,000 visitors each year and has become a staple of tourism in the area.
6. The closure of the last iron mine
The last iron mine in the region, the Gogebic Taconite Mine, closed in 1967. The closure marked the end of a 120-year iron mining era in the Upper Peninsula. The closure had a significant impact on the local economy, and many residents were forced to leave the area in search of work.
7. The restoration of the Historic Ironwood Theater
The Historic Ironwood Theater, located just a few miles west of Bessemer, was built in 1928 and served as a cultural hub for the region for several decades. In the 1960s, the theater fell into disrepair and was eventually closed. In the early 2000s, a group of volunteers began a restoration project, and the theater was reopened in 2008. Today, the theater hosts concerts, plays, and other cultural events and has become a beloved landmark in the area.
In conclusion, Bessemer, Michigan, has a rich and diverse history, with numerous significant events taking place in and around the town over the years. From the discovery of iron ore to the closure of the last iron mine, each event has played a crucial role in shaping the town and the surrounding region. The history of Bessemer is a testament to the resilience and strength of the people who have called the area home.
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