The early explorers that arrived to the Keweenaw often witnessed Native Americans spear fishing this 2600 acre lake by torch light – and named the lake accordingly. Years later as mine companies began to search for convenient locations to build their stamp mills this deep lake along the high ridge of St. Louis Hill became the center of attention. Soon a half-dozen of these mills were operating along Torch Lake’s western shore – dumping some 200 million tons of mine tailings into the lake in the process. By the time all the mills had closed those tailings had managed to decrease the lakes surface area by over 20%.
While the mills no longer operate, their vast deposits of stamp sands still remain – stretching far out into the lake. Recently those vast wastelands have been transformed into a natural landscape of rolling grasslands, but some scars have lingered. Scattered along Torch Lake’s shore lie concrete monoliths, towering smokestacks, dock pilings, and even the half-sunken wreck of a Quincy dredge beached upon the sands. But while its west shore may betray its more industrial past the rest of Torch Lake harkens back to its more humble origins. Only a sprinkling of lakeside cottages interrupt the long stretch of lush forest to the east, and to the south rise the forested hills along the Dollar Peninsula.
Torch Lake is the deepest body of water along the Keweenaw – averaging over 70 feet with its deepest points reaching 120 feet. Due to the lake’s importance as a deep water port the lake bottom was dredged and a canal was cut through the marsh at Torch Bay’s northern terminus, connecting Torch Lake to the Keweenaw Waterway and Lake Superior beyond. Because of this Torch Lake’s depth fluctuates along with the water level of Lake Superior. Other inlets of note includes the mouth of the Traprock river to the north and the Hungarian Creek to the west. Home to Northern Pike, Walleye, Small-mouth Bass, Crappie and Perch.
NOTES: The lake is accessible from two boat launches, both sitting on the lakes western shore. At Hubbell the launch includes a dock and concrete ramp along with some transient dockage space. The Lake Linden Marina also offers a dock, concrete ramp, and transient docking space as well as some overnight slips (for a fee). Both launches are only a short distance from the highway along paved roads and offer plenty of trailer parking.
DIRECTIONS: From Hancock follow M26 east out of town for 7 miles until reaching Hubbell. The first boat launch is to the right down East 11th Street. Continue another 1.4 miles to Lake Linden, where the second boat launch is a right turn down the road just before the Lake Linden Park.