Getting to Calumet, MI is easy. Here is what you do. You go to Green Bay, WI. Then you head north. And you keep heading north. And just before you get to that great lake up there, head northwest. And when you think you are going to run out of land, go a few miles more.
Calumet is a small township in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The township had, at last census, a population of around 6,500, while the official city of Calumet has around 760 people. The city sits in a larger township, and the whole thing is about 10 miles northeast of Houghton, MI, home of Michigan Tech.
Why am I telling you this? Because this unlikely town, this small place in some of the coldest land of the lower 48, is home to the oldest operating indoor ice rink in the world, the Calumet Colosseum.
Yes, that place.
OK, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but that is kind of the point. The place was built in 1913, and sold to the state in 1942 to become a national guard armory after the previous one burned down. The town had to lease the arena to back to use as an ice rink in the winter months. In 2005, the city traded some land for a new national guard armory to get the arena back, and it’s been exclusively used that way ever since.
There is so much history and memorabilia in this place, I’m going to put those photos in another post. This would become way to large a post if I put it all here.
The ticket booth in the lobby. The copper sign overhead is a nod to the copper industry that fueled the town for years.
Seating inside the arena.
Notice how the structure of the roof goes through the seating area. The beams can get in the way, so watch your head.
The bench areas are pretty nice.
The walkways aren’t as well taken care of.
The scorer’s table.
They do have a pro shop here.
Emergency exits under the stands.
We are here tonight for a GLHL game, so let’s get to it. We’ll roam around more in a bit. With Calumet in the blue and Fondy in the white, let’s get to the action!
A note about these game photos. If you don’t care about camera stuff, skip this part. I tried a different lens for the action shots, a Sony 70-300 lens. It lets in more light (allowing for less noise and faster shutter speeds) and has more zoom available. I liked it, but it was big and heavy, especially compared to what I normally use for games (Sony 55-210).
Also, I normally don’t crop my photos to fit. What I shoot is what I post. I’m giving it a shot this time (and the next few posts). Hopefully, it works out.
You don’t see goalies get stick flex too often.
Goal! Calumet gets on the board.
Sorry, that’s a save, not a goal.
There’s something I’ve never seen. Little pouches on the backs of the net for the goal pegs. Good idea!
We head to the first intermission with Calumet ahead 1-0. They pretty much dominated the first period.
There weren’t many people in the stands for the game. Where were they?
Over one end of the rink is a ballroom, where the team is allowed to sell beer. The thing is, the beer has to stay up there, so people wind up watching the game from there.
Banners hanging around the arena.
Tires for practice.
Let’s get to some second period action.
A reminder that the GLHL is a full-check league. This wasn’t the most physical match you’ve ever seen, but there was hitting.
I don’t think number 15 ever had his mouth guard in his mouth when he was on the ice.
Fondy gets on the board and ties it at 1 each.
If you skate behind the net, duck.
The Bears get the go-ahead goal.
More physical play…
And another goal puts the Bears up, 3-1.
A few saves to balance things out.
This looks worse than it probably was.
And we end the second period with Fond du Lac up 3-1 over Calumet. Fondy owned much of the period, and the score showed it.
For a GLHL team, they have a solid amount of merch. I bought a puck.
This is one of the more creative ways of getting the Zamboni on and off the ice. Lift the boards and glass up with a motor.
I don’t think these are still in use.
UPDATE! I was informed on facebook that the radiators still work.
Let’s get back inside for some third period action.
That’s a pretty good screen.
Looking for the tip in.
With 2:43 left in the game, Calumet makes it a one goal game.
Could they pull it out?
Sorry, no. The Wolverines fall to the bears 3-2.
The locker rooms for the teams are below the lobby, so they have to take the stairs to get there.
My one regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time in Calumet before the game. It’s a place that deserves more time than I was able to give it. I look forward to coming back some day.
Big thanks to Michael Babcock of the Wolverines (no relation to the Toronto coach) for treating me like a true guest. I felt like a rock star.