Locations

It was along the rocky Superior shore at Copper Harbor that large outcroppings of copper would begin the great Keweenaw copper rush around 1844. The first shafts ever sunk along the peninsula would be along Hay’s Point – the craggy finger of land jutting out along the harbor’s entrance. The search for copper pushed southward, and with it the commerce and activity that Copper Harbor once knew. The migrating copper rush’s first stop was along the towering rocky precipices that made up the peninsula’s Cliff Range. It was along these cliffs that the region’s first profits were made – more than five years after the copper rush first began.

With the region’s first profits came a renewed optimism and copper fever. Several more mines were established nearby, and prospectors turned southward in search of the copper riches they now knew were there for the taking. This search resulted in the discovery of the Calumet Conglomerate Lode and the rise of the region’s largest and most profitable mine – the great Calumet & Hecla. In its shadow many other successful mines followed, their inexhaustible thirst for workers prompting the establishment of various worker communities such as Osceola, Tamarack, and Centennial. Together these scattering of towns and mining locations would create a sprawling metropolis of over 30,000 people.

As mines pushed southward, new ports had to be established to deliver the men and supplies these fledging enterprises required. The towns of Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Lac La Belle were all born from this need, serving the new crop of mines that had opened up along the peninsula’s rocky spine. The burgeoning central range of the Keweenaw required a convenient deep water port of their own, turning to the primitive waterway along the Portage Valley to serve their needs. By the end of the century this new transportation corridor would help the Portage Valley become the commercial and transportation hub for the entire peninsula – creating the cities of Houghton and Hancock in the process. Besides ports, these mines also required mills to work their copper spoils. The companies turned to the Lake Superior Shore and the deep waters of Torch Lake to provide the necessary water and tailings reservoir these mills needed. Serving these mills were even more towns, small communities built in the shadow of the mill’s they served along the peninsula’s outskirts and Torch Lake’s western shore.