History worth visiting.
The First Immigrants
Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric peoples in the area dating back 7,000 years. They mined and traded copper in the area prior to the arrival of the Anishinaabeg. The Anishinaabeg harvested and celebrated resources the area provided, including fish, game, and copper. By the middle of the 19th century much of the Anishinaabeg land was ceded to the United States, but as some of the Copper Country’s first immigrants, their impact on the area is undeniable.
The Copper Revolution
In 1841, Douglass Houghton, Michigan’s first state geologist, filed surveys and reports demonstrating an abundance of copper in the region. It was the start of the area’s copper boom. The Calumet and Hecla Mining Company (C&H) and the Quincy Mining Company came to dominate the Michigan copper industry. From 1867-1882, the companies represented the greatest longevity, production, and technical innovation in the world.
The Height of Prosperity
During this time, C&H alone accounted for more than half of the nation’s copper. As late as 1882, C&H accounted for 63 percent of the total U.S. copper production.
At their height, the mining companies constructed public buildings and housing for their employees and lavish residences for themselves, reflective of the Copper Country’s growing prosperity.
Building Enduring Communities
As the Copper Country rose to international fame, immigrants poured in from all over the world. Ethnic groups included Cornish, Italian, Finnish, German, French Canadian, Irish, and many more.
These new Copper Country residents built the facilities that eased life in a new world – bars, government buildings, fraternity halls, and stores – and in turn established enduring communities throughout the Keweenaw that can still be seen today.
The End of an Era
As the nation shifted from the roaring 1920s to the depressed 1930s, so did mining activity in the Copper Country. The decline of copper mining caused an out-migration over the following decades, forcing C & H to close their last remaining mine in 1968. This was the last native copper mine in the Keweenaw.