The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Natural Resources Under the Surface of Michigan

Michigan has a wealth of natural resources that have been exploited over the last 175 years.  

A unique person in Michigan's history is Douglass Houghton.  He was an explorer, geologist, doctor, statesmen, and one of the first professors at the University of Michigan. 

Houghton was charged with exploring Michigan in the early 1800s to locate natural resources that could be used to develop and settle the state.

The old docking station for the gypsum mine

Houghton discovered a gypsum deposit south of Tawas City in 1837 and it has been mined for over a 100 years.  Gypsum was first used as a fertilizer and wall plaster, but is now mainly used to make drywall.

Current pipeline for to take gypsum to lake freighters

Cement plant and mine in Alpena

There are two sprawling cement plants that I have hiked around, one in Alpena and one in Charlevoix.  The one in Alpena (in photo above) has been operational for over 100 years and currently produces 2.5 million tons of cement each year.   

Calcite Mine in Rogers City

The largest open pit limestone mine is located in Rogers City.  I was able to get a tour of the Calcite Mine and was amazed by the scale of the operation there.  This mine celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year.  

Calcite Mine in Rogers City

Limestone has many uses from the production of steel and pharmaceuticals, it can be mixed with salt to de-ice roads in the winter, it can be boiled up with sugar beets to remove impurities. 

Trucks at the mine transport over 200 tons in each load 

Yes, that's me in the loader at Calcite Mine

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