Sightseeing the Area
Follow the footsteps of Native Americans, voyagers, and first settlers as they journeyed through Iron County on the famous Flambeau Trail. Learn how transportation, via this ancient “woodland highway” and later by railroad opened up northern Wisconsin to new settlers and development.
Saxon Harbor: Gateway to The Flambeau Trail Native Americans and voyagers landed their canoes here to portage beaver pelts and trade goods between the Chippewa villages and Northwest Fur Trading Posts. The route used for these trips from La Pointe, on Madeline Island, to Lac du Flambeau, 90 miles to the south, became known as the Flambeau Trail.
Superior Falls: An ancient Native American footpath, called the Flambeau Trail, originally started here at the Mouth of the Montreal River. Ninety foot high Superior Falls offers visitors a spectacular sight, but it was the first of many impassable obstacles that forced travelers for centuries to portage their goods and gear 45 miles over the Flambeau Trail to reach the closest navigable waterway.
Little Finland: The proud heritage of the area’s Finnish immigrants is preserved at the National Finnish American Cultural Center (Little Finland). The building’s timbers, once part of the huge Ashland ore docks, are notched together using unique Finnish “fish tail” construction. Visit the Harma House – an authentic Finnish homestead. Special celebrations on traditional festival days feature dancers and choral groups. Traditional Finnish gifts and hospitality.
Flambeau Trail Crossing: Early travelers to Iron County may have stopped to rest here after following the first 27 miles of the Flambeau Trail uphill from Lake Superior and over the rugged Penokee Mountain Range.
Continental Divide: Stand on the geological dividing line where water flows north to Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean or south to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Since the rivers north of the Divide were not navigable, early travelers had to portage 45 miles from Lake Superior across this point before they could reach a navigable waterway that flowed south.
Turtle Portage: For centuries Native Americans and voyagers using the Flambeau Trail carried their heavy birch bark canoes and cargo across the wide “plain” between Echo and Grand Portage Lake. This was a summer camping site favored by Chippewa Indian bands, who raised corn and potatoes here.
Mercer Depot and Historical Society: In 1889 travel by rail replaced travel via the Flambeau Trail when the first passenger train reached Mercer. The Mercer Depot, the only remaining wooden rail depot in Iron County, has been restored to its turn-of- the –century quaintness. It houses a delightful collection of railroad memorabilia and the Mercer Historical Society. Open to the Public.
Manitowish: Timberman William Henry Roddis built a logging mill here and established Manitowish as a railroad shipping point for timber throughout the mid-1930’s. No longer would logs have to float down the Manitowish River to mill. Hardwood timber brought the railroad and helped to “open up” this area for development.
Apostle Island Vista: View the Apostle Island archipelago and learn how the islands of this National Scenic Lakeshore were formed. On U.S. 2, 13 miles west of Hurley.
Penokee Iron Range State Historic Marker: The rugged Penokee Range provides the backdrop for the story of how the discovery of iron ore shaped the area’s history. On U.S. 2, 12 miles west of Hurley.
Eagle Bluff Scenic Overlook: A spectacular vista of two states and Lake Superior. South of U.S. 2 on County D at the Eagle Bluff Golf Club, one mile west of Hurley.
Annala Round Barn: The only barn in Wisconsin entirely made of massive field stones. Built in 1917 by Finnish master stonemason Matt Annala, it is privately owned. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One mile north of the corner of Dupont and Rein Roads, five miles south of Hurley.
Take a ride on the Roddis Line Heritage Trail and relive the days when railroad logging was the only way to get the “big” timber out of the woods.
Lake of the Falls: Lumberjacks drove white pine logs over the beautiful Lake of the Falls to mills downstream until the pine was cut over in 1905. The valuable virgin hardwood timber that remained didn’t float. Find out how a new solution to moving timber from logging camps to the mill was found.
Turtle Flambeau Flowage: Called the “Crown Jewel of Northern Wisconsin” this 19,000-acre flowage was purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1990 as a “special recreation area” to preserve its natural character and scenic value. Excellent opportunities for boating, canoeing, island camping, and wildlife viewing. Located between County Hwy. FF and State Hwy. 182 in the Mercer and Springstead areas.
Area Resorts: Recognizing that the area’s clear lakes and cool summer air could draw weary city dwellers, enterprising pioneer settlers opened resort businesses here as early as 1905. Area resorts continue to provide gracious lodging and dining cuisine that has made memorable Northwoods vacations for nearly a century.
Turtle-Flambeau Hydro Dam: “The Hoover Dam” of Iron County. Built in 1926 at the junction of the Turtle and Flambeau Rivers, it created the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. Picnic area and canoe put in for the North Fork of the Flambeau River. On Turtle Flambeau Dam Road on County FF.
Lake of the Falls
Lumberjacks drove white pine logs over the beautiful Lake of the Falls to mills downstream until the pine was cut over in 1905. The valuable virgin hardwood timber that remained didn’t float. Find out how a new solution to moving timber from logging camps to the mill was found.
Turtle Flambeau Flowage
Called the “Crown Jewel of Northern Wisconsin” this 19,000 acre flowage was purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1990 as a “special recreation area” to preserve its natural character and scenic value. Excellent opportunities for boating, canoeing, island camping, and wildlife viewing. Located between County Hwy. FF and State Hwy. 182 in the Mercer and Springstead areas.
Turtle-Flambeau Hydro Dam
“ The Hoover Dam” of Iron County. Built-in 1926 at the
junction of the Turtle and Flambeau Rivers, it created the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. Picnic area and canoe put in for the North Fork of the Flambeau River. On Turtle Flambeau Dam Road on County FF.
Timber! Follow Pinery Road back to the days when white pine was king and the immense” inexhaustible” stands of timber brought French Canadian loggers and settlers eager to make their fortunes in Iron County’s pinery.
Springstead Historic District
For centuries, Native American bands came each spring to tap ancient maple trees on the bank of Stone Lake, French Canadian loggers built log cabins here at the turn of the century. At this site, the town of Springstead grew was abandoned and is now being restored. Site development in progress. Open to the public. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As the white pine was depleted, the lumberman transferred their attention to establishing resorts, many of these are still in existence today.