The Ontonagon County

Historical Society

proudly presents our




Anyone visiting Ontonagon must visit the Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum. People are saying "This is the best small town museum I've ever seen."

You'll easily find the pink-doored, brightly colored building on River Street, which is actually the northern end of US 45, whose southern end is on the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Alabama.  

The totally accessible museum complex (including restrooms) contains numerous displays and artifacts detailing the history of Ontonagon County.

The displays include the replica of the Ontonagon Boulder, a 3708 pound chunk of almost pure copper found on a branch of the Ontonagon River, in what is now Lake Victoria. The original boulder is at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. This boulder led to the Copper Rush of the 19th century.

At the same time as the mining hey day, the lumber industry was cutting the white pine of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. The timber that was to "last a thousand years" was all cut and gone in less than 50 years, leaving a lot of rough semi-cleared land.  The lumber companies took the timber and abandoned the land to the townships.

The mining in the area had brought immigrants who bought the abandoned land for back taxes and started farms and businesses. Many of their descendants are still here.

The Society has recently acquired the Ontonagon Lighthouse and is restoring it. Tours are available Monday through Saturday in summer.  The light included a 5th order Fresnel lens, which is on display in the museum.

There are room displays of 18th,19th, and early 20th century life and many artifacts are arranged in cases for easy viewing.

We have 'treasure hunts' for children. These are lists of things, all in plain sight, for them to find and identify. We even have some for those too young to read.

Volunteers regularly greet and help our visitors, though there are no guided tours. You are free to look at your own pace and encouraged to ask questions.

We can be reached by phone (906) 884-6165, or e-mail

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