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      Behind the gates

      About 40 miles northwest of Marquette, down a winding unpopulated road, you TMll find the entrance to the Huron Mountain Club, but don't expect to get in.

      The Huron Mountain Club is virtually unknown to outsiders and has been that way since it started in 1889 as a hunting and fishing club, founded by a group of rich Marquette-area residents.

      But it isn't much for hunting and fishing as it use to be, comments U.P. Historian Fred Rydholm. It TMs a club that tries to preserve nature.

      The club has also done a good job at preserving their privacy. It TMs so exclusive that when we tried to talk to members themselves, we were told that if anyone spoke to the media, they would face severe criticism from other members. TV6 also tried to talk to other residents of Big Bay, with no affiliation with the Huron Mountain Club, and even they would not comment.

      This doesn TMt surprise Rydholm.

      Down through the years, there have been pressures on them of all kinds of descriptions to break up that idea, but they've done pretty well at maintaining it, said Rydholm.

      At least until recently, some Huron Mountain Club members aren't staying quiet about one issue - their opposition to Kennecott's plan to build a nickel and copper mine at the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River, which run through the club's property.

      That has been kind of their golden call, the Salmon Trout River, explains Rydholm.

      The club has a limit of 100 associates and 50 permanent member families who own cabins on the nearly 26,000 acres of land. "Some of them," says Rydholm, "Are fifth, sixth, seventh generation descendants of the club's founders. A lot of people are a little resentful that they aren't in on it for some reason or another, claims Rydholm. Well, those people were here for generations, you know?

      Members have included well-known public figures such as actress Julie Harris and Henry Ford, who waited for 13 years before being granted membership.

      Some of today's members are from Marquette, but most reside in metropolitan areas like Detroit and Chicago.

      For them, the Huron Mountain Club is a haven, a serene escape from the rest of the world. It's only in recent years with the mining controversy that the club has reluctantly taken a public stand. However, their preference clearly is to be left alone, and for the rest of us, what goes on behind the gates will remain mostly a mystery.