The opening of a new rustic campground in Ishpeming this summer was a cause of celebration for outdoor enthusiasts and mountain bikers, many of whom use the locale to connect to the region’s network of trails.
Known as Brasswire Campground, the outdoor recreation site pays homage to Ishpeming’s skiing past. The famed Brasswire ski jump was near the campground site. Ishpeming is the birthplace of organized skiing in the United States and home to the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
The campground provides access to many of the local trail systems and will provide an improved trailhead at the RAMBA Trail System. The campground is also located at the intersection of other outdoor activities, including horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing and the Iron Ore Heritage Trails.
City officials expect mountain bike enthusiasts will use the campground as an overnight option to increase their time on the trails.
As part of the development of the site, a stand of dying jack pines was removed and reforestation is in the works. City officials see Brasswire Campground as a testament to responsible land usage and community collaboration.
“With the campground, all this history and recreation comes together,” says Craig H. Cugini, who is Ishpeming’s city manager. “It’s a celebration of our history and taking a much-needed forest health response to a clear-cut site and turning (the property) into a destination for the community to come together and spend time together.”
What’s happening: The city of Ishpeming has transformed a 16-acre tract into a rustic campground with 50 campsites. Offering a rustic camping experience without hook-ups, Brasswire Campground focuses on a more natural setting. The campground opened in the summer; a ribbon cutting was held in August.
The campground site: The campground integrates with the environment, with about 12 acres clear-cut as a forestry remedy for the dying jack pines. This clear-cutting transformed the area into a space best suited for campground development, embracing nature and recreation. Two water wells were installed for the convenience of registered campers. The wells have been tested and provide potable water. The site includes two outhouse (Vault) bathroom structures. Two sites have been identified as hammock-friendly. There are 10 walk-in sites and one family site.
RAMBA trails used to cut right through the jack pine stand. The trails have been slightly adjusted but do connect through the campground and campers can directly access points along the trails from within the campground.
The city partnered with the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy to obtain a grant for reforestation of the property with native species and climate-adaptive species. That grant came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – Forest Restoration.
History: Brasswire might seem like an odd name for a campground until you know the history of the area. The nearby Brasswire hill was used by the Ishpeming Ski Club for ski jumping competitions around the turn of the last century before the more formidable Suicide Hill came into use.
The area also was once home to Union Park, a recreation area for residents of nearby mining camps. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show passed through in 1902; Ringling Brothers Circus showed up in 1895. The Green Bay Packers played their first-ever road game in the park in 1919, prior to playing in the NFL. The site once contained baseball fields and a horse-racing track.
Funding: The development of the campground was funded in part through a grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The city had to match 30 percent of the grant.
Reservations: Reservations are open and campers can make immediate bookings for this camping season exclusively through the campground's official website, brasswire.org. The reservation cost is set at $25 per night, encouraging families and individuals to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the campground. For those planning ahead, reservations for the next camping season can be secured starting each year on October 1.
Campers under the age of 21 must be accompanied by and under the immediate supervision of a parent or legal guardian to be registered for a camping permit.
For a complete list of camping policies or to make a reservation, visit brasswire.org.
What’s next: City officials were uncertain whether the campground will be open in the winter. They are considering keeping the parking lot clear of snow for fat tire biking in the winter and trail grooming.
Brasswire Campground is located at 234 Malton Road, Ishpeming, MI 49849.
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