Houghton, Michigan

From Academic Kids

Joke Road sign to Houghton
Joke Road sign to Houghton

Houghton, Michigan is the county seat of Houghton County in the U.S. state of Michigan and largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The city is located on the south shore of Portage Lake, primarily on the slope of a hill on the opposite side of the Portage Lake valley from Hancock. Houghton is named after Douglass Houghton, discoverer of copper nearby (though there is evidence indigenous peoples had mined copper in the area thousands of years before). As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 7,010.



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Overlook of the city of Houghton
Many Cornish and Finnish immigrants arrived in the Houghton area to work in the copper mines; both groups have had a great influence on the culture and cuisine of the local area.

In the East Houghton neighbourhood is East Houghton Park. Along Portage Lake is the Raymond Kestner Waterfront Recreation Area, the principal feature of which is a large "Chutes and Ladders" playground; it also includes Houghton Beach. Along the waterfront, in the area that used to be occupied by the railroad tracks, runs the Waterfront Trail, at one end of which is the Houghton RV Park; at the other end is the Nara Nature Park. Veterans Park is just across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge from Hancock, and contains the memorial to the Houghton Company, which fought in the Civil War. Houghton in the headquarters for Isle Royale National Park.

The area lends itself to a wide variety of outdoor sports, both winter (ice hockey, Nordic and Alpine skiing, figure skating, and snowmobiling) and summer (trail running, hiking, camping, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and road and mountain biking).

The last nearby mines closed in the late 1960s, but a school founded in 1885 by the Michigan State Legislature to teach metallurgy and mining engineering, the Michigan College of Mines, continues today under the name of Michigan Technological University and is the primary employer in the city. MTU has a reputation for being a good value in education and attracting a lot of engineering and science students who like the outdoors.

The first known European settler of Houghton was named Ransom Sheldon, who set up a store named Ransom's near Portage Lake. The main street of Houghton, variously called "Sheldon Avenue," Sheldon Street and Shelden Avenue, is named for him. A number of downtown stores and restaurants on Sheldon Avenue and adjacent side-streets are connected by common doors, passageways and street overpasses, and collectively called "Sheldon Center."

William W. Henderson was appointed the first postmaster of Houghton in 1852.

In 1854 Ernest F. Pletschke platted Houghton, which was incorporated as a village in 1861. In Houghton's first days it was said that "only thieves, crooks, murderers and Indians" lived there.

In 1883 the railroad was extended from Marquette.

1909 saw the founding of what would later become Portage Lake District Library.

In 1913 there was a bitter strike of copper miners in the area that the police attempted to violently repress. The Michigan National Guard was called in after the sheriff petitioned the governor.

Houghton was the birthplace of professional ice hockey in the United States when the Portage Lakers were formed in 1899. Houghton is the home of the Portage Lake Pioneers Senior Hockey Team. The team's home ice is Dee Stadium, named after James R. Dee. Dee Stadium was originally called the Amphidrome, before it was severely damaged in a 1927 fire. (The stadium also contains a ballroom ( and a skatepark for skateboarding.)

In the winter of 2001 among the first lumitalos to be constructed in the United States was built in Houghton.

Philatelic History

On October 28, 2002, the first day of issue ceremony for the "snowman stamps" issued by the United States Postal Service was held in Houghton.[1] (


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Location of Houghton, Michigan

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.8 km² (4.6 mi²). 11.2 km² (4.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.48% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 7,010 people, 2,114 households, and 877 families residing in the city. The population density is 628.0/km² (1,625.5/mi²). There are 2,222 housing units at an average density of 199.1/km² (515.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 89.24% White, 1.87% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 6.79% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.24% from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. 0.77% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 2,114 households out of which 21.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.6% are married couples living together, 7.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 58.5% are non-families. 35.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.34 and the average family size is 2.94.

In the city the population is spread out with 12.0% under the age of 18, 55.2% from 18 to 24, 15.3% from 25 to 44, 10.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 22 years. For every 100 females there are 160.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 173.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $21,186, and the median income for a family is $41,779. Males have a median income of $36,161 versus $28,639 for females. The per capita income for the city is $11,750. 36.9% of the population and 20.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.9% of those under the age of 18 and 18.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

See also: Pryor's Location, Michigan, Dakota Heights, Michigan

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