Friday, July 27, 2012

Teachers explore Upper Peninsula geology from Horseshoe Harbor to Tahquamenon Falls

By Michele Bourdieu 

In front of the Quincy Mine's historic No. 2 shaft in Hancock, participants in a teachers' geology institute listen to Tim Scarlett, left, archaeologist and Michigan Tech professor in Social Sciences, as he describes developments in 19th- and early 20th-century technology for getting miners down into the Quincy Mine, one of the deepest in the world, which eventually reached reached 9,280 ft. deep on the incline (approx. 6,800 ft. vertical). (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- A group of 18 middle and high school teachers from across Michigan -- and also from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Indiana -- listened intently as
Michigan Tech Professor Tim Scarlett led them on a tour of the Quincy Mine in Hancock on Tuesday, July 24.

The Quincy Mine was just one of several geological sites they have been exploring this week during the five-day teacher institute on geology sponsored by Michigan Technological University’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Michigan Tech Professor Tim Scarlett explains to teachers how the different levels at the No. 2 Shaft of the Quincy Mine, with a stamp mill at the lower level, used gravity to save energy.

Scarlett first described industrial improvements in getting the miners down into the mine and back up. He then talked about sorting what comes out of the mine, the use of gravity, air shafts, the 9000 ft. long cable and the mathematics involved in the technology of its use.

Teacher participants in Michigan Tech's geology institute head towards the Quincy Hoist House for a view of the steam hoist and an underground tour of the mine.

Inside the Hoist House, teachers have a view of the 17-ton copper boulder on display. This large piece of native copper was discovered in Lake Superior at Great Sand Bay in Keweenaw County in 1991 and brought to the Quincy Mine Hoist House in July 2001.*

The teachers had spent Monday visiting several sites in the Keweenaw, including the Centennial #6  rock-collecting site; Mohawk #4, the source of Gay stamp sands; lava tops in Eagle Harbor; Brockway Mountain; stromatolites at Horseshoe Harbor; and the cobble beach and lichen rings at Hunter's Point.

According to Joan Chadde, institute coordinator, during Monday's tour the teachers learned about mining in the Keweenaw from Michigan Tech Research Professor of Geological Engineering and Sciences Bill Rose and from Ross Grunwald, vice-president of exploration for Highland Resources, a Canadian company now beginning exploratory drilling of historic Keweenaw copper deposits in order to determine the future mining potential of some former native copper mines and of some related copper sulfide sites on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

"We toured the whole Keweenaw Peninsula yesterday (Monday)," said Tammy Daenzer, a seventh-grade science teacher from Birch Run, Mich. "It was very interesting and very scenic."

On Tuesday morning the group heard about ancient copper mining from Patrick Martin, Michigan Tech professor of archaeology. 

Cindy McCormick, who teaches English and science at Jeffers High School in Painesdale, said she had taken Joan Chadde's teachers' institutes before but this was the first time she has taken a geology institute.

"It was awesome," McCormick said. "I think my favorite part was the earth caching at Horseshoe Harbor."

Geology institute participant Cindy McCormick, who teaches English and science at Jeffers High School in Painesdale, prepares for the underground tour of the Quincy Mine. Hard hats and jackets are recommended for the tour. The temperature in the mine on July 24 was 43 degrees F.

Earth caching brings you to a unique geological formation, she said.  It's an activity teachers can use with their students.

"It's kind of like a scavenger hunt. You use a GPS," McCormick explained.**

As the Quincy Tram prepares to start for the underground tour, guide and driver Esa Leppanen, left, gives an introduction to the teachers and other visitors on board.

Ruth Ann Hodges of Lansing, math consultant for the Michigan Department of Education and math instructor at Lansing Community College, also participated in the institute.

Hodges had one word to describe the trip so far: "Great!"

After the Quincy Mine tour, the teachers spent Tuesday afternoon visiting the Seaman Mineral Museum with George and Susan Robinson and the Caledonia Mine in Greenland with Richard Whiteman. They traveled to the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park Tuesday evening for dinner, optional hiking and an overnight stay.

The group spent Wednesday morning on a geologic tour of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park with Bob Wild, park interpreter. Wednesday afternoon they traveled to Marquette for a visit to Presque Isle Park with Dr. Bob Regis of Northern Michigan University.

Thursday's agenda was devoted to a trip to Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, including a Pictured Rocks boat cruise and an optional sand dune hike.

For today, Friday, July 27, the final day of the institute, the group's destination will be Tahquamenon Falls State Park with hikes to both the Upper and Lower Falls, guided by Department of Natural Resources interpreter Theresa Neal -- and a picnic.

After exploring the geological landmarks of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the teachers will discuss ways to bring what they’ve learned back to their classrooms.

The institute features a new publication, A Guide to Geology Field Trips in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, designed for middle and high school teachers. It will be a useful resource for both classroom and youth educators, and those wishing to know about the unique and diverse geologic features of the U.P. The publication is a culmination of more than five years of work by more than a dozen geologists and educators including Michigan Tech faculty, staff and graduate students, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Funding for the development and production of the publication was provided by Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan Tech Department of Geological Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Michigan Space Grant Consortium. Joan Chadde coordinated the publication of the guide.

"It describes field trips teachers can take their students on," Chadde said of the publication.

The Guide also describes student activities related to learning about the geological sites. It includes field trips to six different sites: the Keweenaw Peninsula, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and Fayette State Park.

Editor's Notes:
* Click here to read about transporting the copper boulder to the Quincy Mine Hoist House and see photos of the event in our July 2001 article, "MTU museum to exhibit copper boulder from Keweenaw's Great Sand Bay," published in Keweenaw Today, the predecessor of Keweenaw Now. The article is archived by

** See to learn about earth caching and geocaching.

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