Celebrating the rich heritage and current-day happenings of Iron County through a variety of events and gatherings throughout the year has always been significant to residents.
Mixing fun and learning when it comes to the county’s deep history can be accessed through the Iron County Heritage Trail, one of about 80 historical and cultural sites throughout the western Upper Peninsula. Established and preserved by Friends of the Heritage Trail, the Heritage Trail spans 36 miles and is marked with a wealth of attractions – with many listed on the National Historic Register. Among the sites to explore here are the Historic Harbour House Museum (located in Crystal Falls), Larson Park, Pentoga Park Indian Burial Grounds, Mile Post Zero & Treaty Tree and Lake Ottawa’s recreation area and campground. The newest addition on the trail is a former CCC Camp, Camp Gibbs, situated north and west of Iron River.
The Iron County Historical Museum in Caspian is the largest indoor-outdoor museum in the Midwest. It highlights 22 unique buildings, including the Cultural Center and three art galleries – the Giovanelli Italianati Art Gallery, the Bernhardt Contemporary Art Gallery and the Lee LeBlanc Wildlife Art Gallery. The Cultural Center houses seating for up to 400 people and plays host to a multitude of exhibits, festivals, shows, concerts, lectures and other events.
The Historical Museum also features the Headframe, or hoisting building – said to be one of the earliest of its type and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places – and the Monigal Miniature Lumber Camp, which stretches over 80 feet long and hails as the largest in the world.
Heritage Hall, with its beautifully painted beams, represents many of the 39 ethnic groups making up the communities of Iron County, while the Mining Halls exhibits early mining tools and equipment, along with several glass dioramas offering a glimpse of the underground ore bodies. Additionally, a memorial dedicated to nearly 600 miners who were killed during the active mining days can be viewed.
People of all ages can take part in workshops of all types, ranging from painting and pottery classes to glass beading, silk painting and art camps at the Contemporary Center in Crystal Falls. Also found in the community is the popular Crystal Theatre, which offers great entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.
Kicking back with a good book is easy at one of the county’s local libraries. The West Iron District Library has broken ground on its new 3,500 square foot addition, which will provide much-needed additional space for programs, resources and workspaces, as well as an outdoor courtyard and a computer lab. The Crystal Falls Community Library has also enjoyed an expansion into a more modern and much larger facility. Both facilities offer a vast amount of useful information and services, including reference materials, videos and DVDs, fax and copy machines, and Internet access to the residents of Iron County.
One of the largest events in the area not to be missed is the U.P. Championship Rodeo, attracting cowboys from all over the U.S. to participate in one of the finest Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned events in the circuit for more than 40 years. A week of Western fun for all ages, patrons enjoy chuckwagon dinners, a Wild West Parade, an art show and more.
For more than 115 years, four days have been set aside in the warm month of August to bring together all of the communities of Iron County at the Iron County Fair in Iron River. Highlighting county agriculture, animals, home economics and 4-H youth, the fair features a carnival, entertainment, livestock judging, a truck pull, arts and crafts shows, food and a variety of exhibitions.
Other events include the Bass Festival in July, the Crystal Falls Fungus Fest in August, Italian Day and Finnish Day in August, a Winter Fest in January and the Ottawa National Forest’s programming held from June through August.
Iron County’s sense of community also reaches out through a wealth of local clubs and organizations, including the Crystal Bridge Club, the Carrie Jacobs-Bond Composing Threaders, Wykon Athletic Booster Club, Knights of Columbus, Healthy Eating Club, Iron Range Trail Club, Iron County General Hospital Auxiliary, Tufts-Rondon VFW Post No. 2891 Auxiliary, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 87, a Writer’s Guild, Iron County Heart Unit, Kiwanis Club of Iron County, Lady Elks of Lodge 1671, Crystal Falls Lions Club, Iron Conservation District, Iron County Musicians Club, Crystal Falls Senior Citizen Council, Iron Amateur Hockey Association and more.