Save a part of local history

To the editor:

A January 2014 article in the Gazette said the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Advisory Commission is going to buy the Quincy Smelter. I remember walking around the smelter on different tours with Congressman Bob Davis and U.S. Senator Carl Levin over 25 years ago.

Back then, we envisioned moving the Isle Royale National Park (IRNP) headquarters there and using the smelter buildings to also tell the story of the smelting and shipping of copper.

We also gave tours of the smelter to many National Park Service historians and park planners. They all thought the smelter was a part of Americana that should be preserved and restored to tell the story of the glory mining days.

We talked with them about combining the smelter interpretive center and IRNP headquarters.

Isle Royale is part of the United States because of copper mining. In 1783, Benjamin Franklin twisted the boundary between the United States and Canada to include Isle Royale when he was negotiating the Treaty of Paris. He wanted the United States to have Isle Royale because he had heard rumors of the rich copper deposits.

Look at a map, Isle Royale is much closer to the Canadian coastline than Michigan’s. Therefore, both parks can claim the Native American copper mining pits as part of their history.

The smelter has been a part of EPA Superfund site designation since 1986.

Last year that hurdle was removed. In 1988 when we gave a tour of the then proposed Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) to William Mott, the Director of the National Park Service, he instantly saw the synergy of combining the mission and public interpretation centers of the two parks.

I remember him saying, “There will be a cross pollination of hikers and history lovers, two different demographic groups, thus increasing visitation to both parks.”

I am thankful for the people still making things happen fulfilling the visions of others and myself that were part of the creation of the KNHP over 25 years ago.

It is time to make the restoration of the smelter and the relocation of the IRNP headquarters a reality.

I would encourage residents to get behind the duel usage and write to our current legislators and make this happen. I know from my work with the KNHP that hundreds of letters from local residents turn heads and make things happen in Washington.

Bob Pieti

Sun City, Ariz.