Superior SAR

Superior Search and Rescue (SSAR) is in no way connected with Michigan Technological University. Any information or views presented here are strictly those of SSAR.
Why did strangers from distant parts of the Keweenaw come together and form this organization? Why does our group spend so much money and effort on publishing a newsletter and this booklet, purchasing expensive specialized gear, cleaning highways, and meet in so many different locations? Why do our members spend several hours every month training and be willing to leave the comfort and warmth of their home to walk through the woods in the middle of the night? Why do a few dedicated members spend hundreds of hours every year keeping the organization running? There is only one reason. To save someone's life. Superior Search and Rescue works together as a team to find and preserve lives in the wilderness.

Superior Search and Rescue was formed in 1989 by a group of concerned local citizens who saw the need for a SAR group in the area. Since then, we have grown from a half-dozen to nearly a 100 members.

We assist the Houghton and Keweenaw County law enforcement agencies with searching for lost or missing persons. The agencies include the Houghton County Sheriff Department in Houghton, Keweenaw County Sheriff Department in Eagle River, and the Michigan State Police in Calumet.

Our emphasis is on providing trained ground searchers and command organization. While SSAR can only be called out by a law enforcement agency, we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We do not provide water or technical rescue (mine shaft, high-angle) services.

We cover a very large area. Houghton and Keweenaw Counties combined is about a two hour drive north to south and a 30 minute drive east to west ( a total of 1600 square miles). The northern half is mostly northern forest (conifer, maple, aspen, birch) while the south end has a good number of open fields. Significant features include Cliff Drive (a mile long +150 ft. tall basalt bluff), numerous abandoned mineshafts, and miles of logging roads. The area is criss-crossed by numerous streams, all heading toward Lake Superior. The main towns are Houghton and Hancock (twin cites, pop. 12,000 but with Michigan Technological University in session it's near 18,500). Other important towns include Calumet (pop 7,000 & once candidate for the state capital) and Copper Harbor (pop. 104). The economy is based upon MTU, forestry, and tourism. Annual snowfall is about 250-300 inches and flies from mid October to mid May.

Besides local law enforcement, we work very closely with D.O.G.S. North, ARES, and the U.S. Coast Guard, who provides us air support with the helicopter from Traverse City, MI. As an aside, several members are hoping to establish a CISD team to serve the area.

The team is a completely volunteer in nature and is totally funded through donations from local government, businesses and citizens. Members pay for own equipment and other expenses. Currently, we have about 60 members, about a quarter of them are students at MTU. We have several easily met requirements to join and welcome all whom are interested in SAR.

Formal monthly meetings are held at various places throughout the area from September through May. Our meetings are open to the public. Each meeting usually consists of a business session and a training session. We try to have several mock searches every year.

We maintain an e-mail list (, a WWW site (containing this booklet, the newsletters, and nearly all of SSAR documents, but alas a permanent site has yet to be found), and may soon sponsor a newsgroup, all on the Internet. In addition, we publish a monthly newsletter.

For more information please contact one of the following:

This is a very fluid document since techniques and policies are ever-changing in SSAR. Please refer to our newsletters for the most-up-to-date information.