The U.P. Town of Laurium and Its Most Famous Resident
Visiting the U.P. Town of Laurium, one could get confused and end up in Calumet...
Laurium was once Calumet.
Calumet was once called Red Jacket.
Red Jacket was incorporated in 1875.
Calumet was incorporated in 1889.
Then it was re-incorporated in 1895 as Laurium.
Then Red Jacket was changed to Calumet in 1929.
Such was life in the 1800s Michigan mining villages. But why all the confusion? Red Jacket's post office was named Calumet, so by 1929 it was decided to once and for all change the village's name to Calumet.
These days, Laurium sits butt-to-butt with Calumet; it's easy to be driving through one downtown and all of a sudden find yourself in the downtown of the other...without knowing it.
Laurium was once the largest incorporated village...not just in Michigan, but in all of the United States. The name came from Lavrion, Greece, which is a similar mining town with the same kind of ore found in Laurium. Originally only six blocks, additional neighborhoods were made to accommodate the ever-growing population of mine workers and their families.
Driving through Laurium today presents a problem: lots of rubbernecking. There are so many cool old buildings that line a good number of main roads and side streets, that you may have to park your vehicle, get out, and walk around to soak it all in.
There were two somewhat famous people born in Laurium. The first was George Gipp, born in a house on Hecla Street, and famous for the line “win just one for the Gipper”. While attending Notre Dame, Gipp was approached by football coach Knute Rockne who persuaded Gipp to join the team. He ended up scoring 83 touchdowns in 32 games, was made team captain, and was kicked out for too much boozin' it up and skipping school. Not wanting to lose their star player, Notre Dame let Gipp come back and he went on to become All-American.
In 1920, Gipp caught a severe case of pneumonia and died at the age of 25. Ronald Reagan portrayed Gipp in the 1940 film “Knute Rockne, All American”.
The other notable person from Laurium is Philip Ruppe.
Huh? Who? Wha?
Ruppe was a member of the House of Representatives from 1967-1979. As of this writing, Ruppe is still around, turning 95 in 2021.
In the gallery below are photos – past and present – of Laurium, and one of the house where George Gipp was born. Don't let Laurium's previously-mentioned confusing history bother you...the village makes a terrific place to stop during a U.P. roadtrip!