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The Copper Range Railroad
A Special Issue of the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette
Volume 37, Number 4, December 2004

cover of Copper Range Railroad special issue Gazette
Front cover of the Copper Range Railroad special edition Mid-Continent Railway Gazette.

The Copper Range Railroad is little known to anyone who has not lived in the copper mining region of Michiganís Upper Peninsula. The railroadís service life spanned 73 years, from 1899 to1972. During that time its fortunes fluctuated with the growth and decline of the mining operations of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Copper Range Railroad logo
Copper Range Railroad logo.
Map of copper and iron ranges in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
A map of the copper and iron ore ranges of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. One of many maps and illustrations contained within this special issue Gazette.

The geographic location and period of operation made it a perfect fit for Mid-Continentís mission of preserving the equipment from those railroads which operated in the upper Midwest from 1880 to 1916. And when the opportunity arose in 1963 to acquire Copper Range combination car No. 25 for our newly established passenger service in North Freedom, the museumís leadership had an easy decision to make.

Copper Range coach No. 60 became part of Mid-Continentís collection in 1982. Its restoration by museum members was completed in 2003 and it has been on display in our Coach Shed since that time.

One year later Copper Range steam locomotive No. 29 was acquired in a trade, giving Mid-Continent the opportunity to eventually create a complete Copper Range passenger train once all three pieces have been fully restored.

Historical photo of Copper Range Railroad locomotive #29
Historical photos provide a glimpse of life along the Copper Range Railroad. Several pieces of railroad equipment captured in these images, like the 2-8-0 steam locomotive #29 pictured here in 1945, would later come into Mid-Continent's collection.

The acquisition of No. 29 also brought into our organization George A. Forero, Jr., a new member, who had served as a fireman on board the locomotive during its final years of operation as the steam motive power for a tourist rail operation known as the Keweenaw Central. His interest in the history of the Copper Range Railroad presented us with the content we needed to publish a second special edition Mid-Continent Railway Gazette in order to follow-up on our success with the Iron Mining Gazette published in 2003.

Copper Range Railroad roundhouse
A sample page from the issue showing the Copper Range Railroad's Houghton roundhouse during its heyday and again in the railroad's waning years.

Once again Paul Swanson, volunteer editor and member, did a great job of encouraging other museum members to share their knowledge and private photograph collections to supplement Foreroís text. Chief among them was Clint Jones, a long-time Mid-Continent member who also managed that Michigan tourist railroad operation and ran No. 29 during those final years. Most of the photos in this attractive and informative magazine are from Clintís private collection.

Bridge over Portage Lake
This special issue Gazette is brimming with rare photos from the private collection of Clint Jones.

This second special edition Gazette has proven to be our most popular. Copies are available as a result of a decision to do a second printing after the first one sold out. You can purchase your own copy of the Copper Range Railroad special edition Mid-Continent Railway Gazette the next time you are in our gift shop or by clicking through to our webstore.

All webstore purchases support Mid-Continentís mission of preserving a unique aspect of railroad history. We are extremely grateful for your participation in this way.


Don't miss out on any further issues by becoming a museum member! A subscription to the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette is one of numerous benefits of membership to the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society.