Freda, Michigan
Freda, Michigan is an unincorporated community fifteen miles west of Houghton, Michigan
Houghton, Michigan
Houghton is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,708. It is the county seat of Houghton County...

, United States in the Stanton Township
Stanton Township, Michigan
Stanton Township is a civil township of Houghton County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,268 at the 2000 census.-Geography:...

. Once a booming, dynamic town, Freda was a key part of the copper industry in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the northern of the two major land masses that make up the U.S. state of Michigan. It is commonly referred to as the Upper Peninsula, the U.P., or Upper Michigan. It is also known as the land "above the Bridge" linking the two peninsulas. The peninsula is bounded...

, on the western edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula
Keweenaw Peninsula
The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northern-most part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States. As of the 2000 census, its population was roughly 43,200...

. The large mill located in the town received copper ore from the surrounding region.

The town was named after William A. Paine
William A. Paine
William Alfred Paine was an American businessman who co-founded the stock brokerage firm, Paine Webber....

's daughter.


Freda and its companion, Beacon Hill, Michigan, were owned and maintained by the Champion Mining Company, a subsidiary of Copper Range Consolidated. The town existed essentially to serve the large Champion Copper Mill, which processed copper-bearing rock from the nearby Champion Mines. The mill was served by the Copper Range Railroad
Copper Range Railroad
The Copper Range Railroad was a small railroad company that operated from 1899 to 1972 in the western Upper Peninsula of the state of Michigan, United States....

, which also provided passenger service to the area. A post office operated from July 12, 1907, until March 12, 1964.

As a result of its location on a major railroad line, Freda also became a holiday vacation spot. The Freda Park was opened in 1908, funded completely by the Copper Range Railroad. It maintained the title as the cleanest and best maintained park in the Copper Country
Copper Country
The Copper Country is an area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the United States, including all of Keweenaw County, Michigan and most of Houghton, Baraga and Ontonagon counties. The area is so named as copper mining was prevalent there from 1845 until the late 1960s, with one mine ...


With the decline of people’s dependence on the rail road system, the park was shut down on Labor Day in 1918, thus handicapping the Freda community. In a 1966 article in the Daily Mining Gazette, a reporter simply stated, “...only the files of newspapers, books, and periodicals will be mute evidence to days enjoyed of yesteryear.”

The closing of Freda Park was only the beginning. The closing of the Champion mines and the arrival of the automobile ultimately led to the demise of Freda. Based solely on the railroad system and owned by mining companies, the town quickly lost population. Freda continued to boom after 1918, but its limited market prevented any other growth away from the copper industry.

Champion Mill

The Champion Mill processed copper-bearing rock from the nearby Champion mines. The design of the mill was based upon dumping copper-filled rocks from a locomotive into an area where 1 of 5 large stamps would break the minerals into pieces. Water from Lake Superior was added, while the pieces were pulverized by iron balls. The result was a sludge that was forty percent copper or more. This was then sent by locomotive to Michigan Smelter
Michigan Smelter
The Michigan Smelter was a copper smelter located at Cole's Creek on the Keweenaw Waterway north-west of Houghton, Michigan near the old Atlantic mill. The smelter was created in 1903-4 as a joint effort between the Copper Range Company and Stanton group of mines. An Atlantic dam on the site was...

, near Houghton
Houghton, Michigan
Houghton is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,708. It is the county seat of Houghton County...

. From there, the copper was made into ingots and shipped to the world.

Much of Freda’s fundamental character and identity were lost with the closing of the mill. The last whistle blew on November 4, 1967.

With its closing, a two year salvage operation began, involving the removal of all valuable materials.
Everything, including all machinery and pipe systems were gutted, and lumber was salvaged. Even the steel rails for the train system were taken, due to their value, since the Beacon Hill bridge alone contained 310 tons of iron.

In the wake of the mill's closing, the Post Office closed, and was later converted into the Superior View Restaurant, which remained open for 33 years until, in 2006, it was closed. The town maintains a very low population.
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