The paternalistic mentality of mine companies shaped the development of many communities across the Keweenaw – but none as overtly as the Calumet & Hecla Mine did with Calumet. Almost all of village’s services – fire protection, schools, public libraries, bath houses, water service, hospitals, and even steam heat – was provided by C&H. It was in the company’s best interest to keep their workers educated, healthy, clean and safe. It was also in their best interests to keep those same worker’s relaxed and happy – a result of which was the establishment of Agassiz Park.
Built on a stretch of derelict property laying between the village of Calumet and the mine itself – this 20-acre park was designed by renowned landscape architect Warren Manning. The park’s centerpiece was a large bronze sculpture of former C&H president Alexander Agassiz – for whom the park is named. Backing the statue were expansive gardens containing local flowers transplanted from the surrounding forests and fields. Radiating out from the statue were a series of tree-lined walking paths that joined up with each one of Calumet’s main streets. To the north sat a football field, running track and baseball diamond. A large playground with merry-go-rounds, swings, and a slide was also present. To the south were plans for a large outdoor amphitheater.
Agassiz Park was never able to fulfill its original grand vision. The arrival of the Depression halted work on the site, and only the tree-lined paths were ever fully developed. Since C&H’s closure, the park has been downgraded even more, as the village began slicing it apart and selling off the land. Low-income housing, a grocery store and the public school’s football field have taken over much of the park’s once vast landscape. As a result only a small fraction of the great park is left, looking nothing like the grand public space it was once envisioned to be.
Today only a few of the park’s tree-lined paths still remain, laid across a generous amount of open green space. At the park’s northern end sits a basketball court, and a few newly built horseshoe pits. A stately warming shack – for a rink that was never built – anchors the park’s western end.
NOTES: Conveniently located near Calumet’s downtown, this city park offers plenty of open space for sports and other activities. A large public parking lot is adjacent to the park and public bathrooms are provided.
DIRECTIONS: From along US41 in Calumet, turn onto Red Jacket Road heading into town. Just before turning into town, take a right onto 4th Street. Follow this street for a short distance and the park will be on the right.