abandoned ore dock

The Abandoned Iron Ore Dock of Marquette, Michigan

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The Abandoned Iron Ore Dock of Marquette, Michigan

A trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should include a stop by the abandoned ore dock of Marquette, Michigan.

abandoned ore dock

Marquette, Michigan was first settled in approximately 1849 by Amos Rogers Harlow. Originally called New Worcester, the town was later renamed after Father Jacques Marquette, who explored the area in the 1600s.

Iron ore and the industrial revolution helped build Marquette, Michigan into one of the most active ports on Lake Superior.

One of the most iconic sites of Marquette has to be the abandoned ore dock of the lower harbor.

The abandoned ore dock of Marquette, Michigan was built around 1931, officially closing in 1971. Still standing, the ore dock is an imposing structure that tells of an era long since gone.

The ore dock is closed to foot traffic, however, you can visit the harbor, which is currently undergoing a beautiful revitalization. It is also planned to revitalize the ore dock itself – click here.

A Winter Visit

So, about our visit to Marquette, Michigan.

Things did not go as planned to say the least. My wife and I visited the area in late February to coincide with our anniversary.

Staying in Munising, which is about 40 miles to the East of Marquette and situated right in the Hiawatha Forest, turned out to be a fabulous choice if you are visiting the area to enjoy winter activities, such as snowmobiling. Read about that adventure HERE.

We did our research on the area as far as activities, location, etc. We even checked the weather multiple times leading up to our trip. The forecast called for snow each day but did not appear to be anything to worry about. Ha – were we wrong.

The weekend turned into a blizzard. Starting Saturday evening after we finished snowmobiling and into Sunday, it snowed more than I have ever seen in my adult life. On Sunday, the wind started and it was an all-out, road closing, power outage, blizzard.

So, if you are planning a trip to this area during the winter and the forecast calls for snow. Believe the forecast and prepare properly.

Below is the only photo of the abandoned ore dock that I was able to capture in heavy snow. Obviously very disappointed, we made the most of our trip and took in some other activities to make up for not being able to explore the ore dock.


abandoned ore dock

My vantage point in relation to the ore dock does not look close at all, but I assure you, we were as close as you could really be considering the weather.

Since the snow prohibited any background to give the dock some scale, what you see does not do it justice. The ore dock is a huge structure.

I am borrowing some of my favorite photos of the ore dock from other photographers to support this post and give readers a glimpse of how magnificent this structure really is. If the town of Marquette continues with its revitalization, it will be a remarkable destination for generations to come.

abandoned ore dock
Photo credit – Greg Kretovic

The above photo appears to be from nearly the same location from where I took my photo during the snowstorm. You can see much more clearly the chutes that would have been used to load the iron ore onto the waiting cargo ships.

Read more about the ore dock and Marquette, Michigan – HERE

Nearby Eats

Visiting during a major snowstorm limited our choices for activities. Much of the area was shut down due to poor travel conditions.

However, while taking in what we could of the abandoned ore dock, we did manage to find an amazing location to grab lunch and have a hot coffee.

The Iron Bay Resturant and Drinkery

Located directly across from the ore dock and right in the middle of the best views of the harbor, the Iron Bay Resturant and Drinkery is a great eatery to experience.

A great menu with a variety of items for every taste and appetite. Service was superb and coffee was equally good.

I highly recommend the Iron Ore Burger. My wife had the Iron Bay Whitefish Tacos, which she said were extremely good and light.

Check other menu items HERE.

The Tap Room, of course, was closed the day we visited due to the weather, but based on local reviews, it’s a winner. Check some reviews on Trip Advisor.

After we finished at Iron Bay Resturant and Drinkery, I suggested we head up to the Ore Dock Brewing Company.

I had heard great things about the Ore Dock Brewing Company – online reviews, etc., and really wanted to pay it a visit. Not recommended when it’s blizzarding, but hey, we were on vacation and I wasn’t about to waste it.

A great little destination. We had one drink, looked around, bought souvenir sweatshirts, and then made our way back out into the blizzard to return to our cabin; an hour away.

Below is my lovely wife being pelted in front of the Ore Dock Brewing Company to show our friends how bad this snowstorm really was.

wife in snowstorm
Standing outside the Ore Dock Brewing Co

All-in-all, our trip to the Upper Peninsula was really special. We experienced our first snowmobiling ride together, more snow that either of us had ever seen, and discovered a destination we absolutely hope to return to.

I highly recommend a visit in more mild weather if you want to sightsee. The winter weather is really quite harsh compared to what us tender foot people of the southern Midwest are used to.

Parting Tips

  • Book early for lodging. Our purpose for the trip was snowmobiling and we booked three months out. It was slim picking even that far out.
  • Watch the weather. Talk and listen to the locals – if they say the weather might get bad, listen to them because they know.
  • Travel in a four-wheel drive or SUV if you are visiting in winter. Other means would have been nearly impossible.
  • Maybe try to visit in warmer weather – like July maybe. Just kidding – all seasons have something to offer, just be familiar with weather and travel conditions.

We loved our trip to this area and plan to return.

Below are some helpful links and were used to support this post.



Photos used in this post have credit given where appropriate and can be found via internet search.




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    1. Concrete mostly Jim – of course some good old fashion American steel from the early 30s. One of the links I added to the post was from a guy that lives in that area, included some photos of the trestle that would have provided the trains a ramp to push cargo onto the dock. The trestle was largely old timbers – looked pretty rickety when it was finally dismantled.

  1. Thanks for the informative post. We’ll be spending the better part of the summer in upper WI with excursions into the UP. Definitely planning on a stop in Marquette.

    1. The ore dock may not be for everyone but I’m really fascinated by structures and history, and this spot is full of history. I am definitely going back so I can enjoy more than I got to see in February during the worst snowstorm I’ve ever seen. Thanks for stopping by.

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