Keweenaw Time Traveler; Take a virtual tour of history in Copper Country towns

Copper Country

CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) – Upon opening the Keweenaw Time Traveller, a map of Downtown Calumet dispays.

The colorful maps are from Sanborn fire insurance plans. The maps were made and sold to insurance companies for assessing fire risk according to co-director of the Keweenaw Time Traveller, Dr. Sarah F. Scarlett.

“They color coded the maps by the material that the buildings were made of obviously the most important thing when you’re evaluating fire risk is whether they’re made of stone or whether they’re made of stone or brick,” said Scarlett.

Yellow buildings are wood, blue is brick and red is stone. On some of the buildings in some years there are gray borders, meaning the building was iron or metal clad. The buildings are also labeled for what they were used for

In the drop-down menus on the top, you can toggle between years and towns in Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

The tool is interactive, Sarlett says they want people to add stories to the maps if they have pictures and memories from places and times.

“One of the great things about the time traveler is that it’s public and online and interactive so what we’d like to do is encourage people to use it to record their own memories, feelings and information,” said Scarlett. “You can essentially drop a point and tell a story and you can do that with a photograph or even a video or links to other places.”

Users can also search by name to find people that may have lived in the towns. If they were listed in a city directory of that time you’ll be able to see where they lived and likely their occupation.

Keweenaw Time Traveler recently received a second grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to add more data and improve the user interface. Scarlett says they will likely be able to release some of it next year.

“The intention is that the Keweenaw Time Traveler is something that will keep growing and you know we’re adding more data and we want more and more people to add their own memories and pictures too,” said Scarlett.

You can find the Keweenaw Time Traveler on their website. Along with just exploring the map you can also transcribe building materials and building uses.

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