The Gogebic Range

The following  excerpt came from a book authored by Monsignor Peter Oberto - (History and census of the Italian immigrants from the seven towns of the Asiago Plateau on the Gogebic Range of Michigan and Wisconsin)

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the United States, Raphael Pompelly discovered iron ore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Newport Hill on October 8, 1871. This led to the development of the Gogebic Range in Michigan and Wisconsin. During the 1880s a new process for making steel had been found and steel manufacturing centers were developed at Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, where iron ore was brought in by ships from the newly discovered ore mines on the Gogebic Range.

The first railroad was extended to Ironwood from the steel manufacturing districts to bring in mining machinery about 1884. The Gogebic Range began to be populated in 1885. Ironwood became a village on September 2, 1887 and was devastated by a fire on September 17,1887. On April 8, 1889 Ironwood became a city and shortly afterward was connected to Chicago via Milwaukee by the Chicago and North Western Railway. The Panic of 1893 closed mines and there was an extensive epidemic of typhoid fever. On March 11,1907 Erwin Township was created out of Ironwood Township. East Ayer Street, known as the "old county road," was the only road that connected Ironwood and Hurley with Bessemer and Wakefield. Near the Newport Mine (Newport Location and Jesseville), the Bonnie Mine (Bonnie Location in Irwin Township), the Purtain Mine (Yale Location) and the Ironton Mine (Bessemer) was where most of the immigrants from the Asiago Plateau settled.

More than 2000 immigrants from the plateau arrived at Ellis Island in the Port of New York and even more from other smaller U.S. ports as well as through Canada and Mexico from 1890 to 1924. Many left from the Port of Le Harve, France. This was a sad period in the history of the plateau. Families and mends were separated; many never to see each other nor the land and mountains of the plateau again. The former railroad station at the town of Asiago, built in 1909, was the point of departure for many immigrants from the plateau. A bronze statue on the left side of the railroad station was erected some years ago to commemorate this exodus.

About 464 immigrants made their journey from the plateau to the Gogebic Range between 1890 and 1924. Those that were definitely born on the Asiago Plateau were 227 adults plus 27 children equaling 254 people. Most of these people-approximately 96 families-stayed and raised their families and died on the Gogebic Range. There were 49 boarders living with some of these families. Most of these boarders and a few families either returned to Italy or settled in Detroit or Chicago or some other smaller city.

There were also 193 adults plus 17 children equaling 210 people born in Italy. Many of them were boarders - 86 immigrants - and 42 families that settled on the Gogebic Range for only a few years and for that reason information about them is scarce. There is a high probability that these immigrants came from the Asiago Plateau. Their last names were Rigoni, Passuello, Stella, Pertile, Carli, Basso, Pesavento, Forte, Longhini, Guzzo, Frigo, etc. They spoke the same language, the Venetian dialect, which was distinct from other dialects of Italy and lived with families born on the plateau. People usually immigrated to areas of the Upper Peninsula where others from the same area of Italy had gone. For example, many from Lucca, Italy settled at Hancock, Michigan. Southern Italians from the town of Simbrio in Calabria settled in Ishpeming, Michigan. Those from the Bergamo area north of Milan, Italy settled in Negaunee, Michigan. This was a pattern also found in other parts of the United States.


 Last updated 03/12/13 - (c)2007 - Barth Cunico - All rights reserved