The southern shore of Lake Superior is mostly composed of lowlands, covered with sand, glacial de-posits and clays, which came from the lake during a former stage of much higher water, when it extended many miles south of the present boundary. These lands, while not well adapted to agriculture, contain rich deposits of copper, iron and other metals and valuable red sandstones. Around the rapids and canals at the outlet has gradually grown the town of Sault Sainte Marie, familiarly known as the ” Soo,” having ten thousand people, and developing important manufactures from the admirable water-power of the rapids, which is also utilized for electrical purposes. An international bridge brings a branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway over from Canada, on its way to Minneapolis and St. Paul, with connections southward to Chicago, and there is also the military post of Fort Brady. Stately processions of vessels constantly move through the canals, being locked up or down when the navigation season is open, and making this a very animated place, over fifteen thousand ships passing in the seven months when the canals are free from ice. The tonnage is the greatest using any system of canals in the world, far exceeding Suez, and the recent improvements enable vessels of twenty-one feet draft to go through the new locks. Both Governments have expended millions upon these important public works, which are chiefly employed for the transport of grain, flour, coal, iron-ores and cop-per. The favorite sports at the “Soo” are catching white fish and “shooting the rapids” in canoes guided by the Indians, who are very skillful.
About one hundred miles westward from the ” Soo,” on the southern lake shore, there rise cliffs of the red and other sandstones formed by the edges of nearly horizontal strata coming out at the border of the lake. These are the noted Pictured Rocks, rising three hundred feet, extending for a distance of about five miles, and worn by frost and storm into fantastic and romantic forms, displaying vivid huesred, blue, yellow, green, brown and grayas they have been stained by the oozing waters carrying the pigments. At intervals, cascades fall over the rocks. One cliff, called the Sail Rock, is like a sloop in full sail, and there are various castles and chapels, and an elaborate Grand Portal. In the country around is laid much of the scene of Hiawatha, and at the little lake port of Munising, nearby, was the site of the wigwam of the old woman, Nokomis,
“On the shores of Gitchee Gumee, Of the shining Big-Sea-Water.”
To the westward is the region of iron-ores, and here is Marquette, named for the great Jesuit missionary Father Marquette, who was the first founder of mission settlements in this region, and died in 1675 near the mouth of Marquette River. This town of fifteen thousand people is on Iron Bay, and is the chief port of the Marquette, Menominee and Ishpeming mines. Farther to the westward the great Keweenaw Peninsula projects, the name meaning in the Indian dialect the “canoe portage.” At its base, the Portage Lake almost separates it from the main-land, and a short portage to the westward formerly carried the canoes over the narrow isthmus. A canal now enables the lake shipping to pass through with-out making the long detour around the outer end of the peninsula. Upon this rocky peninsula are the great copper-mines of Michigan, including the Quincy, Tamarack, Osceola, Franklin, Atlantic, and the Calumet and Hecla. The latter is the world’s leading Copper Company, making over $4,000,000 estimated annual profit, employing five thousand men, and having the deepest shaft in existence, the Red Jacket, which has been sunk forty-nine hundred feet. Houghton, on the southern shore of Portage Lake, is the leading town of the copper district. To the southwestward and in the western part of the Upper Michigan Peninsula is Lake Gogebic, elevated thirteen hundred feet, in another prolific iron-ore district, the Gogebic range, which produces Bessemer ores, and has its shipping port across the Wisconsin boundary at Ashland, another busy town of fifteen thousand people at the head of Chequamegon Bay. Out in front are the Apostle Islands, a picturesque group, and to the westward the head of Lake Superior gradually narrows in the Fond du Lac, or end of the lake, where are situated its leading ports, Superior City in Wisconsin and Duluth in Minnesota.
Here in the seventeenth century came the early French, and in 1680 a trading-post was established by Daniel du Lhut, afterwards becoming a Hudson Bay Company Station. The mouth of St. Louis River and its bay were naturally recognized as important points for trade, and when the Northern Pacific Railway was projected Superior City got its start. The first railroad scheme failed, the panic of 1857 came, and the railway project was abandoned until after the Civil War; and then, when it was renewed, the terminus was located over on the other side of the river, the place being named Duluth, after the French trader. While there has been great rivalry between them, and Duluth has outstripped Superior, yet the latter has an extensive trade and thirty thousand people. Duluth, the ” Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas,” as it has been ambitiously called, was originally projected on Minnesota Point, a scythe-shaped natural breakwater running out seven miles into the lake, which protects the harbor, but the town was subsequently built farther in. There were about seventy white people in the neighbor-hood in 1860, and in 1869 its present site was a forest, while the railroad, which had many set-backs, had only brought about three thousand people there in 1885. The completion of other railway connections in various directions, the discovery of iron deposits, and the recognition of its advantageous position for traffic, subsequently gave Duluth rapid growth, so that it now has eighty thousand people, and is the greatest port on the lake. It is finely situated, the harbor being spacious and lined with docks and warehouses, and it has many substantial buildings. Back of the city a terrace rises some four hundred feet, an old shore line of Lake Superior when the water was at much higher level, and here is the Boulevard Drive, giving splendid views over the town awl lake. The vast extent of wheat lands to the westward and the prolific iron-ore district to the northward give Duluth an enormous trade. Its railways lead up to the Messabi and Vermillion ranges, now the greatest producers of Lake Superior iron-ores, the red hematite, most of the output being con-trolled by John D. Rockefeller and his associates. These mines yield the richest ores in the world, and have made some of the greatest fortunes in Duluth. Yet they were not discovered until 1891, and then the lands where they are generally went begging, because nobody would give the government price for them, $1.25 per acre. One forty-acre tract, then abandoned by the man who took it up because he did not think the pine wood on it was enough to warrant paying $50 for it, is now the Mountain Iron Mine, netting Mr. Rockefeller $375,000 annual profit, and his railroad bringing the ores out gets more than that sum for freights.