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.