Keweenaw sunsets: a treasure I cherish


Tucker Nielsen

One of the dozens of photos I’ve taken of a sunset in Houghton/Hancock.

Tucker Nielsen, Lode Writer

People enjoy the Keweenaw for several reasons. The air is generally fresher and crisper, compared to other urban areas. Surrounding countryside feels more remote and rugged than the flat farmlands of the Lower Peninsula. A rich mining history draws in history buffs to drive past ruined shafthouses. No matter the time of year, outdoor sports can be played almost anywhere in the Keweenaw. There are several options to love this northwest wilderness.

    I love the Keweenaw for all the reasons I mentioned above. Since first seeing the area in tenth grade, the small-town charm of Houghton/Hancock welcomes me. I don’t want to limit my reasons for loving the Keweenaw to obvious, tourist catered bullet points. Instead, I want to share a personal reason for why I love this area so much: its sunsets.

    Sunsets themselves are far from unique to the Keweenaw. Hell, I have excellent ones in my backyard back in my hometown downstate. These sunsets paint the yard in auburn colors, the surrounding fields allowing for a clear view. What makes a Keweenaw sunset different is the intensity and surroundings.

Last night was simply gorgeous. The afternoon was filled with clear, blue skies and bright, glowing sunshine. It’s certainly a welcoming sight after weeks of gray clouds filled with snow. When these days happen, I love to go out and walk downtown to the shoreline. Sometimes, I’ll pause in town and take a picture if the lighting strikes the buildings at an appealing angle. Despite not taking any photography classes, I’m satisfied with how I frame shots. 

When sitting on a bench facing the waterway, I become lost in a peaceful state of mind. I focus on how the canal’s waters lap the shorelines and under the dock I sit on. To my right, the bright blue of the Portage Lift Bridge blends with the sky. To my left, the city of Hancock reflects the sun off its buildings. A mix of old and new structures dot the Hancock skyline, with it reflecting off the canal’s choppy waters. Colors ranging from a bright copper hue to a blinding gold drip from a focal point near the river. 

As the sun sets, the skies to the east darken as the west glows. This process of the sun slowly retreating below gives comfort to me. The recurrence of such an event provides hope that the next day may end just as gorgeously. If the day was awful before the sunset, then that moment of watching the sun sink is cathartic. There’s a release of tension as I imagine my troubles sinking with that sun, hoping they don’t show up again. 

Some may not think too much about sunsets. After all, they seem to occur fairly often. For me, a sunset marks the glorious end of a day. It symbolizes a celebration of success, a triumph over the day’s challenges. A sunset is always a special occurrence. However, the peace of the Portage Canal, the pines and deciduous trees, the old brick and concrete buildings with mining houses in between, and the crisp air with distant traffic brings a charm to a Keweenaw sunset that I’ve yet to experience elsewhere.