In August of 2010, seven municipalities along the proposed Iron ORe Heritage Trail passed a new millage for 2/10th for six years to help the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority (IOHRA) “build, manage and maintain the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. The trail is a 47-mile linear route stretching across the Marquette Iron Range from Chocolay Township in the eastern part to Republic township in the near western portion of Marquette County. Since that time, the IOHRA board, the one-person staff, the many volunteers, plus the State of Michigan have worked to make connections for people in our County to each other and to special places associated with our 160+ year iron mining heritage.
The 47-mile trail is now in the public hands and is forever secure for the public’s use. The entire 47 miles are available for walkers and those pedaling fat tire bikes; 35 miles are available for those on hybrid and road bikes, 15 miles are available for inline skaters and boarders, 15 miles (with six more to come shortly) are opened up to ORV’s (through State ORV route program) and 15 miles are available for equestrians.
Fishing piers, overlooks, bridges, and ledgeways have been built to keep the trail complete. Forty-seven unique Range Stories have been told, museums have been connected, interpretive artwork has been installed, trail events have blossomed, small businesses have opened while other local businesses have profited from grant dollars coming into this area, residents have discovered new spaces and places, and kids have a safe place to get on their bikes.
The IOHRA board continues to look for ways to improve the trail through continued story telling, more trail connections (to Schwemwood Park, Lions Field in Chocolay, Cliffs Shaft, single track trails, etc), maintenance of existing trails, trail surfacing upgrades, artwork, interpretation, and providing a climate for local businesses to thrive.
So our Board has decided to ask for a renewal of this millage on August 2, 2016, which would run from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2022.
It is up to the voters in these seven communities if they will continue to support the project.
July 16, 2016 – Red Earth Classic Mountain Bike Race – 32 Mile Beast/20 Mile Loader/12 Mile Dozer/Junior Classic
August 13, 2016 – Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic – 48 mile, 28 mile, 10 mile, kids events
August 20, 2016 – Negaunee Pre-school 5K/10K Family Walk ….more info to come
August 27, 2016 – Walk for the Poor 5K sponsored by the St. Vincent De Paul Society
September 3, 2016 – Marquette Marathon and Half Marathon
September 24/25, 2016 – Marji Gesick 100
A special board meeting has been scheduled for the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority for Friday, May 13, 3:30 pm at the IOHRA offices, located at 102 W. Washington Street, #232, Marquette, MI 49855. Items to be discussed include 2016 budget amendment and Superior Paving bid of 1.8 miles
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail and its Administrator, Carol Fulsher, were recently recognized at the Midwest American Trails and Greenways Conference (MATAG) in Des Moines, Iowa as Michigan’s Trail Project and Trail Person. At each MATAG Conference, held every other year, each State is encouraged to recognize the tremendous contributions of volunteers, professionals, and other leaders who are working to create a dynamic system of trails across the Midwest.
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail was awarded outstanding Trail Project because of the “trail’s artfully designed trailheads, mile markers, kiosks, and other trailside historical items have made this an iconic trail for the State of Michigan. Marquette has long been known for its mountain biking and cross-country ski trails; however, the addition of this spectacular rail-trail has branded Marquette as a sought-after trail hub. The trails have brought so much attention to the area that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is basing their new online trails portal featuring all the trails of Marquette County as a demonstration site”.
Carol Fulsher, its administrator, was awarded outstanding person because of her “overall effective leadership, including coordination, advocacy, technical assistance and fundraising. She guided the local governments along the trail route in forming the Iron Ore Heritage Trail Recreation Authority and successfully coordinated a campaign to start a millage to help fund the development and maintenance of the trail. She successfully worked with the Michigan Historical Center to develop trail features with history interpretation in mind, telling of the critical importance of the iron mining industry in that part of the state. Every kiosk, mile marker, and sign along the route represents this past in an iconic way.”
“I was stunned to learn that we won these awards this year,” commented Carol Fulsher, Administrator for the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority. “I work with a very committed board of directors who use their skills to build this trail. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by their talents and perseverance. We want to continue building a one-of-a-kind trail that is an asset to the people of Marquette County and the State of Michigan and allows all users somewhere to partake in their sport and mode of alternative transportation. We thank MTGA and the DNR for their recognition of our work.”
Our next Board of Directors meeting will be held on Thursday, October 29, at the Country Inn and Suites in Marquette Township.
Republic, MI – A celebratory Run/Bike event with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 26, 11 am at the western terminus of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail in downtown Republic . The Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority (IOHRA) recently upgraded 2.5 miles of trail reaching from downtown Republic at the Chicken Coop/Iron Ore Heritage Trailhead , along School Lake, and proceeding north on the LS&I rail grade to the Republic/Humboldt Township Line. The trail was built and upgraded with a fine crushed aggregate ranging from eight feet to ten feet wide to accommodate walkers, bikers, ORVers, snowmobilers, and equestrians.
Awarded a $281,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and $100,000 from the Cliffs Eagle Mine Community Fund, the Iron Ore Heritage Trail used these funds and their general fund to upgrade the Republic portion of the trail as well an additional 2.5 miles of trail within the City of Ishpeming and Tilden Township. A kiosk with four Republic story panels, researched and written with the help of the Republic Historical Society, has also been placed at the trail head. The total project is expected to be nearly $500,000.
“Our board is ecstatic to see this last trail upgrade project finalized. We promised voters in 2010 that we would use their tax dollars to build, manage and maintain the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. Now, we have combined their money with State, Federal and other private monies to upgrade all sections of the trail within the boundaries of our township and city members and have done it earlier than expected,” cited Carol Fulsher, administrator of the IOHRA. “Now we get to celebrate this final construction project.”
Elizabeth Hangas, a Republic Township Planning Board member added, “Republic residents feel connected to the Marquette County communities with this new trail in place that brings all sorts of trail users to our downtown. We have already seen more bikers and ORV’ers coming into Republic. We look forward to being the western most start or stop for people looking to experience the iron Ore Heritage Trail. We have an interesting mining history and look forward to sharing the stories of the people and places of Republic.”
For more information on the September 26 event, please contact Elizabeth Hangas at 906-376-8005.
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.”
Saturday, June 6 – The summer kicks off with the 2nd annual Iron Range Roll event on Saturday, June 6, National Trails Day. This running and biking event begins at the Cliffs Shaft in Ishpeming and heads downhill into Marquette with a finish at the Marquette Commons. The bikers start at 1 pm and the runners follow. Watch for a mass of bikers through Ishpeming and Negaunee. Event prep work will start on Friday, June 5. This is one of three events that utilizes a large part of the trail. For more information on the Iron Range Roll, visit 40belowmqt.org/event/iron–range–roll/.
Saturday, June 13 – The very next weekend will see the inaugural running of the “Run for the Red, White and Blue” 5k race starting in Ishpeming and benefitting the VFW. Register on Saturday, June 13, 2015 from 8AM-9:30AM at the Ishpeming VFW, located at 310 Bank Street, Ishpeming, MI. Pre-entry package and bib pick up is also at the Ishpeming VFW.
Race will start at 10AM. The staging area will be in the Bjork and Zhulkie parking lot off of 3rd Street in downtown Ishpeming.
The course: Both the run and the walk will follow the Iron Ore Heritage Trail east, and will turn around and return to 3rd Street finish line. The one mile walkers will turn around at 7th Street and the 5K will turn back at Malton Road.
For more information, call (906) 235-5517.
Saturday, July 11, the Iron ORe Heritage Trail between Negaunee and Marquette is the chosen route for the Go Big For Kids 10K and 2 Mile Walk fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. For more info, contact Laura@bbbsmqt.org.
Saturday, September 5, welcomes back the Marquette Marathon. Starting at the Cliffs Shaft in Ishpeming and heading on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail into Marquette, this 26.2 mile race follows the beautiful trail downhill into Marquette with a fun ending on Third Street in Marquette. The Half Marathon begins at the Michigan Iron INdustry Musuem in Negaunee Township and heads east into Marquette as well. For more information go to: marquettemarathon.com
The summer season is always busy and 2015 will be no exception. Starting off the year on National Trails Day will be the Iron Range Roll. Scheduled for June 6. It’s a run and bike event from Ishpeming’s Cliff Shaft Trailhead to the Marquette Commons Trailhead.
On June 13, the Run for the Red, White and Blue will take place on the Ishpeming to Negaunee portion of trail. It’s a 5K run to benefit the Ishpeming VFW.
The Red Earth Classic Mountain Bike Race uses a small portion of the Heritage Trail connecting single track bike trails between Ishpeming and Negaunee. The REC is on Saturday, July 18.
Speed the Light 5K/10K Glow Run used the Negaunee to Ishpeming section of trail for their event. Date to be announced.
The Marquette Marathon and Half Marathon take place on Saturday, September 5. The Marathon begins at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum and ends on Third Street in Marquette. The Half Marathon begins at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.
February 21, 2015 – The inaugural fat bike race will take place on Saturday, February 21. They will begin in Ishpeming and use the Heritage Trail ski trail between Negaunee and Ishpeming as well as the single track trails in that area, then get on the Heritage Trail snowmobile trail from Negaunee into Marquette, then get onto the South Trails in Marquette. http://www.906adventureteam.com/2015-polar-roll/ for more informatiaon