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Upper Peninsula City Named in Top 10 Small Towns near National Parks

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In honor of the National Park Service turning 100, Smithsonian Magazine counted down the best small town near National Parks and the Gateway to Isle Royale, Houghton, Michigan made the Top 10.

Coming in at number 8 on the list, Houghton, the home to Michigan Tech and the 5th largest city in the Upper Peninsula was named to the list because,

Houghton considers itself the birthplace of professional hockey, something that its Canadian neighbors to the north might take umbrage with. But its claim has legitimacy, as Houghton was home to the world’s first pro hockey league, founded there in 1904. Though the original rink, “The Dee,” constructed in 1902, burned in a fire in the 1920s, the town quickly rebuilt the rink, which is still operational today.

Houghton sits atop one of the world’s largest deposit of native copper, and for years the town’s economy depended on local mines, which produced more than 10 billion pounds of refined copper, before the city’s economy began to shift toward tourism, its primary focus today. The area’s natural resources can still be seen on view at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Part of the city’s appeal is its remote location, as it takes four hours by car to get there from the closest major city. The entryway to the Keweenaw peninsula, visitors enjoy snowmobiling and skiing in the winter in the town, while boating, hiking and biking in summer months proves equally popular. The Isle Royale National Park is less than 50 miles away, providing an even larger playground for those in search of adventure.

Thinking of making the trip from Southwest Michigan? Houghton is 550+ miles and a 9 hour car ride away from Kalamazoo – and it makes little difference if you do that entire distance staying in Michigan in Michigan (9 hours, 16 minutes) crossing the Mackinac Bridge or taking the Chicago-Wisconsin route (9 hours, 5 minutes).

Next: This Nearly Unkown Spaceport near Houghton Once Launched Rockets into Space

BONUS VIDEO – People from Illinois Attempt to Explain the Michigan Accent

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[Smithsonian Magazine]

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