Negaunee Township – Users of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail will be treated to a new functional and interpretive art installation underneath the LS&I trestle in Negaunee Township. The painted mural depicts miners, methods and tools from the earliest days of mining on the Marquette Iron Range, ca 1850’s. It is adhered to steel framing and functions to keep the iron ore pellets on the southern hillside from rolling onto the trail.
Awarded a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, with a portion coming from the National Endowment for the Arts, the IOHRA requested Artist proposals for a unique way to provide interpretation of mining and the transportation of ore while stopping pellets from rolling on to the trail underneath the LS&I trestle.
Mike Lempinen’s proposal was chosen earlier this year. Since February, he has been working on his mural using the Jackson Mine as his backdrop for that era of mining. He drew and painted his mural on canvas stretching 12 feet. Mr. Jim Martin, a photographer at Ben Franklin, photographed the mural in high quality digital format. The photograph was then sent to Signs Now who printed the photograph onto vinyl and adhered to a substrate. That substrate was then be adhered to a steel sheet provided by Rick Kauppila of U.P. Fabricating.
“We have always taken the interpretation of this trail seriously. When we found we were having problems with pellets rolling onto the trail from the southern hill, we wanted to fix the problem creatively. In this location we are underneath the active LS&I railroad while we are following the old rail grade so we wanted to interpret the various means of moving ore from picking it out of rock to moving it along plank roads and railroads,” said Carol Fulsher, Administrator for the IOHRA. “We believe this will be a show piece for the trail. It’s absolutely stunning.”
Mike Lempinen, added, “I really was humbled to be chosen for this project and researched the early miners, especially those who worked in the Jackson Mine. I’m fascinated by this industry and its evolution and wanted to pay homage to the hard and dangerous work of moving ore. I visited various museums, used models for posing so I’d get the positioning of bodies correctly and read a lot about the plank road and the various railroads. This is truly been a labor of love.”