Mysteries of the Michigamme

Snaking its way through the old Mansfield Mine Location—just east of Crystal Falls, Michigan and three miles north of old Highway 69—the Michigamme River appears peaceful and serene. A winsome waterway, it tumbles smoothly along to meet and combine with the Menominee River. Rolling waves, soothing in sight, smell, and sound, capture the senses with their calm.

Yet the Michigamme River’s history belies its calm exterior. There is a dark side to its brooding, bending current, which has been known to be swift, sure, and to strike without warning.

A twisting and turning link between Lake Superior and Green Bay, it was a major waterway for explorers and missionaries who depended on it to guide them safely along on their journeys. But some of those journeys along the Michigamme have been anything but safe.

When the aging missionary, Father Menard, attempted to escape from an unfriendly L’Anse band of Chippewa Indians in 1661, he was last seen canoeing along the coursing river just before he met with death. Only the silent rocky shores, the towering pines and the shadowy rivulets of the Michigamme know the mystery of how he spent his final moments.

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