The Northwestern began its life of quite desperation in 1845 along a fissure vein just east of what would later become the Central. The vein was worked by a collection of four vertical shafts, each only a few hundred feet in depth. In addition to those shafts, an adit was also driven a thousand feet into the vein to work the lower levels. While there was copper to be found, the quantities were hardly record breaking, or even mine sustaining. After a decade of work the mine was only able to produce some 300 thousand pounds of copper, prompting its closure around 1857. A few more sporadic explorations were begun on the property in the ensuing decade under Central’s watch, but the mine would never become a major producer.
Today the old copper vein is covered by a wide stretch of poor rock which makes its way down the hillside from the No.4 shaft on the north end to the No.1 to the south. Like most piles in the Keweenaw they have been bulldozed several times over the years and now sprawls out between the surrounding trees. Making our way up the rocky landscape we couldn’t find any evidence of the old mine that once resided here. That was until we hit its northern extension – at the location of the No.4.
Here sat several parallel walls of poor rock, culminating in this stoic masonry corner overlooking the rock piles below. This type of layout made me think we were looking at a hoist building, but if we were it was definitely a small one. The building was hardly a dozen feet in width.
Here’s another look, this time from the building’s east side. You can see the other walls in the background. Besides a hoist its also possible that this was a foundation to some type of rock house, but due to the mine’s age I don’t think that’s very probable.
Whatever the purpose of that mystery foundation, we found another mystery just a few steps away. This barb wire teepee was most like the remnant of an old fence that once surrounded the shaft. With its presence we now knew that a shaft was close, and it was most likely the No.4.
Sure enough a quick look down the hillside towards the rock pile revealed the tell-tale signs of a capped shaft. A suspiciously cleared area speckled with four steel posts set at the corners of a large square. After taking a short walk down to read those posts it was revealed that this was indeed the capped No.4 shaft – marked NW4.
Once down at the site of the old shaft we could make out another ruin just beyond the tree line. We moved in for a closer look…
To Be Continued….