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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Houghton in Houghton County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Amphidrome / The Birth of Professional Hockey

 
 
The Amphidrome Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
1. The Amphidrome Marker
Inscription. side 1
The Amphidrome
The Amphidrome stood on this site from 1902 until 1927, when it burned. The first hockey game was played in the arena on December 29, 1902, when Portage Lake beat the University of Toronto, 13-2. The Amphidrome was the home of the Portage Lakes, a team in the International Hockey League, Ice Hockey's first professional league. The building also hosted the agricultural society's annual Copper Country Fair and numerous other community events. The Houghton Warehouse Company, headed by James R. Dee, who helped organize the International Hockey League in 1904, led the effort to rebuild the Amphidrome. This building opened in 1927 on the site of the original one and hosted professional ice hockey games until 1907. It was renamed Dee Stadium in 1943.

side 2
The Birth of Professional Hockey
In 1903-04 the Portage Lake Hockey Club became the first hockey team to pay all its players. In March 1904 the club won the U.S. Championship and beat the Montreal Wanderers in the Houghton Amphidrome for what was billed as the World's Championship. Later that year local entrepreneur James Dee and Houghton dentist John "Doc" Gibson, a former hockey player originally from Ontario, organized the first professional hockey league. The International Hockey League (IHL) began play in
The Birth of Professional Hockey Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
2. The Birth of Professional Hockey Marker
December 1904 and comprised teams from Houghton; Calumet; Sault Ste Marie, Michigan; Sault Ste Marie, Ontario; and Pittsburgh. The league folded after three seasons, but it marked the start of professional hockey.
 
Erected 2006 by Michigan Historical Commission - Michigan Historical Center. (Marker Number S0690.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Michigan Historical Commission marker series.
 
Location. 47° 7.362′ N, 88° 33.935′ W. Marker is in Houghton, Michigan, in Houghton County. Marker is on East Lakeshore Drive 0.1 miles east of Isle Royale Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is located at the Dee Stadium in Houghton. Marker is in this post office area: Houghton MI 49931, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Historic Houghton (here, next to this marker); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Float Copper (approx. 9.9 miles away); St. Paul the Apostle Church (approx. 10 miles away); Calumet Theater (approx. 10.1 miles away); The Italian Hall / Italian Hall Tragedy (approx. 10.1 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  The Birthplace of Organized Professional Hockey!.
The Amphidrome Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
3. The Amphidrome Marker
(Submitted on August 16, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Sports
 
Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
4. Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey
Sign mounted to the main entrance of Dee Stadium
Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
5. Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey
panel left The Amphidrome 1902-1927
The 1901-02 Portage Lakes

In 1900, Dr. John L. "Jack" Gibson, who had played hockey in Ontario, settled in Houghton to pursue a profession in dentistry. He would soon become known as "Doc" Gibson and he would become one of a small circle of pioneers who helped develop hockey into a professional sport. With his enthusiasm and drive, Houghton had the first professional hockey team (1903-04 Portage Lakes) and was a founding member of the first professional hockey league. International Hockey League (Founded 1904

After an the Portage Lakes went undefeated in the 1902-03 season, Gibson started to recruit for the 1903-04 season. The 1903-04 Portage Lakes is recognized as the first professional hockey team. Gibson played one year for the Portage Lakes (1903-04) and eventually moved to Calgary where practiced dentistry and died in 1955. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder (1976) and he was one of the original inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (1973)
Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
6. Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey
panel center The First Professional Hockey Team
1903-04 Portage Lakes
Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, August 14, 2014
7. Dee Stadium-The Birthplace of Professional Hockey
panel right The Dee Stadium 1928
The 1902-03 Portage Lakes

James R. Dee (1856-1946) born in Cliff Mine, in nearby Keweenaw County, was a local business man who organized the Worlds First Professional Hockey League here in the Copper Country. James Dee is recognized as the father of professional hockey in the United States. The first professional hockey league in the world, featured teams from Calumet, Sault Ste. Marie Canada, Sault Ste. Marie Michigan, Pittsburg and our Portage Lake team. "His teams won international championships and laid the foundation for the formation of professional hockey leagues which are thriving in America today." according to the local newspaper on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

His interest in winter sports and hockey lead him to promote and organize a company to build the Amphidrome in 1902. It was the largest enclosed ice rink in the country at the time. When the Amphidrome was destroyed by fire in 1927, Dee took the lead in organizing the financing the construction of the New Amphidrome before the beginning of the next hockey season. This ice rink was purchased by the College of Mining and Technology (Now MTU) in 1943; at which time, they dedicated the rink the James R. Dee Stadium
<i>The New Amphidrome, Houghton, Mich.</i> image. Click for full size.
circa 1932
8. The New Amphidrome, Houghton, Mich.
<i>Amphidrome from Portage Lake, Houghton, Mich.</i> image. Click for full size.
By A.W. Buck, circa 1910
9. Amphidrome from Portage Lake, Houghton, Mich.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 16, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 307 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on August 16, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   8, 9. submitted on January 2, 2015.
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