I was raised in the town of Caspian, Michigan because my father took a teaching position at the nearby Stambaugh Public Schools. He was originally from Menominee, Michigan another Upper Peninsula town southeast of Caspian. He served in the occupation of Germany in 1954-55 and used the GI Bill to earn a Master’s degree in education at Northern Michigan University.
Caspian developed around six iron ore mining sites in the early 1900s. It was always a very small town, peaking in 1920 at 1,912 and street car lines connected villages Stambaugh and Iron River. Today the population is under 900, with the biggest declines in the 1970s and 1980s. My brothers and I still own our childhood home and it is pretty much preserved like it was when my parents were alive. Eventually, Andy and I would like to renovate it in stages. The town brings back so many memories and it is a quiet and beautiful place, especially in the summer.
Even though the town is depopulating, the environment is improving. When I was a child, the rivers, streams, fields and paths were always red. This was a remnant from the iron ore mining era. Today, much of that is gone. The city has done a nice job protecting the Caspian Mine open pit. Once a mine closed, groundwater rushed in and turned them into small lakes. Walking by the Caspian Pit during my visit, I saw two loons and lots of other birds. The old railroad line was converted to a walking/biking trail. The trail now goes all the way out to Chicagoan Lake.
I love going home and spending time in Caspian. Many fond memories and it is a quiet and relaxing place for a vacation. I hope to return next summer.