Top 10 Ironwood Area Historical Sites

Ironwood, Michigan and the surrounding communities are rich with history and historical sites. Founded in the late 1800’s as a mining, logging, and railroad community, the Western U.P. is filled with great stories and locations.


1. Historic Ironwood Theatre

Ironwood’s Cultural Centerpiece

The Historic Ironwood Theatre– Built in 1928, the recent restored theatre has a rich history of providing outstanding entertainment. The Mission of the Ironwood Theatre is to provide cultural entertainment of the highest possible quality to the greatest number of citizens in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin.

The Historic Ironwood Theatre is located in Ironwood’s beautiful historic downtown and is the cultural and artistic centerpiece to Ironwood’s growing arts community and district.  Showing on average one show every other week (pre-COVID), the theatre serves as an entertainment venue for residents and visitors, and a social venue for all to enjoy.

The Historic Ironwood Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Click here to view the Historic Ironwood Theatre website.

2. Ironwood Memorial building

The Ironwood Memorial Building is a two-story Neoclassical structure built of concrete in a pentagonal shape. The first floor is raised, providing light to the basement level. The two front facades are faced in grey terra cotta and coursed stone, while the remaining elevations are faced with brick. The heavy bronze door entrances are approached with wide granite steps and are flanked by Ionic columns. Above each entrance, clocks are inset into the terra cotta. A balustrade runs around the roof edge. Multipaned windows separated by pilasters and topped with arches run around the first floor, and rectangular windows with architrave trim are used on the second.

Inside the building are municipal offices (including a court room and council chambers), community facilities, a 1,500-seat auditorium, a pool and gymnasium. The building houses 47 stained glass windows (including a number depicting the Battle of Argonne), a statue of World War I doughboy, and bronze tablets listing area men who served during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. A mural by artist Carl Frezell depicting local iron mines was funded by the Works Progress Administration. The Ironwood Women’s Club has a private clubroom in the building.

The Ironwood Memorial Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

See the Memorial Building Self Guided Tour.

3. Ironwood Depot Museum

Built in 1892, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot was designed in the Richardson Romanesque style. It was the hub of an elaborate railroad yard operation in the center of Ironwood. As the mines closed, so too did the fortunes of the railroads, with the last iron ore trains ending in 1967 and passenger trains ending their service at the Depot in 1970. Purchased by the City of Ironwood, the Depot was refurbished by a dedicated group of volunteers, and it is now home to the Ironwood Area Historical Society and the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Ironwood Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

4. Iron County Historical Museum

One of the best spots for history enthusiasts is the Iron County Historical Society Museum. Built in 1893 as the town hall for the now-vanished Town of Vaughn, the museum building was sold the following April to serve as the courthouse of Iron County. Mixed styles of architecture were used when erecting this building to include Richardsonian Romanesque. In 1976, the Iron County Historical Society acquired the building and spent a decade performing extension restoration.

The Iron County Museum offers you three full floors housing every kind of display from history of iron mining to railroads, timber to veterans, home life to faith-based articles. The museum is filled with many

The Iron County Historical Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

5. Miners Memorial Heritage Park

Miners Park Aurora Open Pit Mine Pond

Miners Memorial Heritage Park– MMPH encompasses the former iron ore mining locations within the City of Ironwood. The discovery of these mines resulted in the establishment of the City of Ironwood in the latter part of the 19th century. The last iron ore mine in the City of Ironwood closed in 1966.

Non-motorized trails can be used for activities including hiking, biking (a brand new state of the art trail system coming soon), running, walking, snowshoeing, and cross county skiing, while providing safe corridors between many locations within the City of Ironwood and the opportunity for regional trail connections. Miners Memorial Heritage Park provides a unique attraction for residents and tourists alike!

6. Ironwood Carnegie Library

Built in 1901 with the support of Andrew Carnegie, we are proud to be the oldest continually operating Carnegie Library in the state of Michigan and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the historic downtown, our library is a beautiful historic building that has served the residents of our community for over 100 years. What makes our library unique is that it combines a rich past with the technology of the future. The library is a vital community resource that connects residents to each other and the world.  Visit the old library and take a step back in time.

The Ironwood Carnegie Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

7. Downtown Ironwood

Downtown-Ironwood Michigan

Home to the Historic Ironwood Theatre, Depot Park, Ironwood Area Historical Society Museum, Ironwood Memorial Building, Ironwood Carnegie Library, Michigan’s Iron Belle Trailhead, historical murals, and award-winning parks.  Enjoy your day in downtown with many shops, food establishments, and events.

Downtown Ironwood is the cultural, artistic, recreational, historical, heart of the Western U.P. Bolstered by great shopping and dining experiences, people congregate here all year long. Enjoy a show at the Historic Ironwood theatre, take in an art exhibit at the Downtown Art Place, go on a historical tour of the downtown, or simply shop, eat, and enjoy a nice bike ride on the Iron Belle Trail.

8. Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail

Visit historical many historical markers along the trail and learn about the great logging, mining, and railroad days of the Western Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail is a non-motorized paved path that begins at the Michigan/Wisconsin border (Montreal River) and goes all the way until Ramsay, Michigan.  The next phase of the trail will connect Ramsay to Wakefield, Michigan.

Jump on the longest designated state trail in the nation as you hike or bike your way between Belle Isle Park in Detroit and Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. Explore pristine forests, pass cool rivers and visit charming towns, and find out why Michigan is known as “The Trails State.” The 1,273-mile hiking route (69 % complete) incorporates a large portion of the existing North Country National Scenic Trail. It traverses the west side of the Lower Peninsula and borders Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. The 791-mile bicycle route (64 % complete) utilizes existing multi-use trails and follows US-2, a designated national bicycling route in the Upper Peninsula.

Depot Park in downtown Ironwood serves as the Upper Peninsula trail-head.

Click here to view the trail map.

9. Little Finland

The National Finnish American Festival (NFAF) Cultural Center, known as Little Finland, is located on US Highway 2, just west of US Highway 51 South. The center keeps alive the proud heritage of the many Finnish immigrants who settled in the Hurley Area. Its’ purpose is to foster a cultural center and preserve the Finns rich heritage with song, dance, and ethnic foods. The Harma House and Harro House are log homes of Finnish immigrant families moved and rebuilt on the grounds and houses the Cultural Museum. The building’s timbers, once a part of the historic Ashland ore docks, are notched together using unique Finnish ‘fish tail’ construction. Of special interest is the Finnish/American Settlers’ Memorial Monument, the Banfield Pavilion, and the Taipele Trail (which is a nature/ski trail that crosses a trout stream), and a Fire Circle, all located on the Festival grounds. What Finnish homestead would be without a sauna and the authentic log building named Maki Sauna fits the bill. A gift shop is located in the basement of the main Festival Building that offers several Scandinavian gift items to include sauna supplies.

10. Montreal, Wisconsin National Historic District

The district has been termed a nationally significant example of industrial community planning. It is part of the Gogebic Iron Range, one of five iron ore districts that comprise the Lake Superior mining region. Montreal’s residences reflect the progression of housing policies that were implemented from the mid-1800s onwards, whereas the landscape recommendations of the town planner and landscape architect Albert D. Taylor were commissioned by the Oglebay-Norton Minint Company in 1924.

The Montreal, Wisconsin National Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Downtown Hurley (Silver Street)
  2. Plummer Mine
  3. Copper Peak
  4. Theatre North
  5. Bessemer Heritage Center
  6. Wakefield Historical Society
  7. Keystone Bridge
  8. Gogebic County Courthouse
  9. Black River Harbor
  10.   Little Girls Point Extension Camp

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