Exploring Michigan: Freda Ruins

A lesser known spot in Michgan’s Upper Peninsula, The Freda Ruins are a fun spot for a day trip on the Western side of the U.P. The ruins are from the Champion Mill, which received rocks from nearby copper mines to have the copper extracted from them. I’ll talk about the experience I had a Freda with my friends: Justin and Zach (Pictured above). The whole area begs to be explored, and it can take some time to look in every nook and cranny you come across. I’d plan for 1-2 hours if you’re going to make the visit.

Directions: Freda is about 12 miles directly West of Houghton, Mi (as the crow flies). Directions are pretty straightforward, and I’ll even give you a google maps link below, with a marker at the parking area:

Once you park, there’s a steep, rocky path down to the ruins. We didn’t see an easier way down, but maybe we missed the easy route.

Be sure to pay attention to Private property signs. While the ruins are public, they are surrounded by private property, and we found the residents are very eager to “protect their easements” (more on that story later on…).

The first thing we checked out was the smoke stack that still stood. You can actually walk inside of it, here’s was the entrance looks like:

Graffiti within the Freda smoke stack
Spoopy indeed. 

You’ll notice there’s no shortage of graffiti within the ruins. It adds a level of creepiness to the ruins, which was a constant during our exploration. 

There’s also broken glass, rusty metal, and jagged rocks everywhere. Watch your step, and bring appropriate footwear.

Looking up into the Freda smoke Stack tower
Looking directly up into the smoke stack, and more interesting graffiti.

There are very few interiors to explore, but we did find a few. We found more graffiti and some…party favors? It was a little sad to see litter there, but it also added to the intrigue of the place. What on earth happened inside here?

We found a man-made cairn (not part of the original ruins). I’ll knock down most cairns, unless they have a use for navigation.

Knocking over a cairn

I don’t want to listen to your story, but you’re going to hear mine!

As we headed out, we went down a road, that apparently was an easement. We were careful to look out for private property signs, and didn’t see any. The owner ended up driving by, and was in a mood to angrily talk at (not to) us. We tried to let him know we ended up on the road from the ruins, but he said (and I quote) “I don’t want to listen to your story, but you’re going to hear mine”. The man proceeded to tell us we jumped over a gate to get on this road (which wasn’t true). After talking at us angrily for a minute of so, he told us to have fun in the ruins, and not to litter. With how remote Freda is, I think the guy just wanted someone to talk to.