For the early copper mines of the Keweenaw, the difference between success and failure was often only a matter of location. While clues on the surface could indicate a presence of copper, they could not determine its richness. Even with modern science behind them, mine companies could do little more then bet big on their plot of land dealing them a winning hand. This was especially true on the northern end of the peninsula, where most copper was trapped in very rich but highly localized and finite fissure deposits. If signs of copper were discovered, companies quickly bought up land and begin sinking shafts. Hit a fissure and the company earned a dot on the map; miss and succumb to history. Luckily for the Central Mine, it was a hit.

It was 1854 that the Central Mining Company bet big and sunk its first shaft in an ancient Indian mining pit below the Greenstone Bluff. The company hit it big time, uncovering over 40 tons of copper in the first forty feet of depth. Within a year the shaft had produced over 83,000 pounds of copper and was the only Copper Country mine ever to make a profit in its first year. For the next forty years the mine managed to produce a staggering amount of copper, enough to pay over $2 million in dividends to its investors. The mines obscene success was shared by the town which supported it. The little mining camp of Central quickly blossomed to a community of over 1300 people, sprawling across the de-forested hillside at the bluff’s base.

Unfortunately it was not to last, as what was once a highly rich copper fissure suddenly petered out. With no copper to mine, the company quickly closed down and with it the fortunes of Central took a turn for the worse. Before long a town of a thousand became a town of just a few, and the dozens of homes scattered across the landscape were abandoned and allowed to rot away. That was until the local historical society bought up much of the old town and began to return it to its former glory, which now includes the old Methodist church and a handful of restored miner’s homes.

A Central House


Hidden away off the main road in the old ghost town of Central sits this interesting old home – one of hundreds that once graced the slopes of the hillside here. It seems in remarkably great shape, looking almost as if it was just built yesterday. We had stumbled across …

Central Salt Box


The vast majority of housing established across the peninsula was built by mine companies for the housing of their workforce, a necessary expense considering the remoteness of the region. Companies would keep costs as low as they could, utilizing very simple and open layouts. For the Central Mine this meant …

Along the Greenstone Flow


The high ridges that make up the Keweenaw’s rocky spine were born from volcanic activity millions of years ago. They consist of stacked layers of basalt (cooled lava) – known collectively as the Greenstone Flow. The Greenstone Flow was resistant to the glaciers that rumbled over it, while the surrounding …

Bricks and Stone


If you follow one of the trails near the visitors center, you find yourself hiking up the steep bluff above the town to a simple sign in the woods. Although there isn’t much left to show for it, here once stood the old Central School. Like all mine locations, skilled …

Central Church


the lone church at Central, built for the Cornish by the Cornish Central, like all other mining towns along the Keweenaw, were populated by peoples from all across Europe and Great Britain. A substantial part of Central’s inhabitants were Irish and German, and the highest percentage were Cornish. Mining was …

Visitor’s Center


the new visitors center and miner’s house at Central For many decades Central simply sat and decayed. Building after building was abandoned, and year after year the heavy snows did their work brining them down. Besides a few summertime residents, the town of over a thousand became a town of …

A Ghost Town No More


Even decades after its closure, the size and scope of a once thriving settlement can easily be seen In 1854 a mine was opened on a fissure deposit of copper atop a craggy bluff overlooking the East Branch of the Eagle River. Like most mines begun along the Keweenaw it …