18 Uncles — The Keweenaw Peninsula

Mining ruins, the shores of Lake Superior, and rural American living

Mitchell Peterson
5 min readAug 10


The tip of the Keweenaw. (Photo by Miles North Creative Co.)

Note to readers: My work has shifted to another website and all posts are at Substack.com. This is simply an introduction for my former Medium.com audience.

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Our house was on a tree-lined country lane ten minutes outside a tiny single-main-street town. I always say it was kind of like growing up in the 1950s because we were surrounded by forest, it was pre-internet, and we didn’t have cable television, only a microwave-sized bubble TV connected to an antenna my father rigged on the roof that somehow got us one channel: ABC. So, in those chilly autumn months after school growing up, we could gather around and watch Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and Seinfeld reruns. We even caught the first season of Lost and early Grey’s Anatomy.

But the bus home from school took an hour. It wound ten minutes down each and every lumpy gravel road to stop at one house, turn around, and head back where we came from. There was no such thing as suburban sprawl, and many homes lay down their own country roads, miles from each other.

To this day, the smell of diesel fuel takes me right back to those brown seats, my skin sticking to the plastic as my sleepy head rattled against the window, snapping up when we hit a particularly large pothole, or in the winter watching kids frantically scratch the thick layer of frost on the glass, gather ice under their fingernails, and then stick all five fingers in their mouths to suck the dirty moisture.

About twenty minutes before the bus dropped us off, it turned onto a dirt cutoff that connected the paved Lake Annie and Pontiac Roads.

A large portion of the remaining students would scamper out because a family on that street had fifteen children



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.