The earliest of those copper hunters was the Lake Superior Copper Company, who acquired 21 square miles of lands along the Eagle River’s route in the mid nineteenth century. While initially promising the lode proved spotty at best, and after years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars the failing mine was reorganized as the Phoenix in 1849. The new masters went to work finding new lodes to explore, sinking shafts not only along the Eagle River’s route, but into the towering cliffs of the Cliff Range as well. A total of five new veins were explored and worked in earnest, though not all at the same time. In addition to its collection of mines, the Phoenix also boasted three stamp mills scattered across its lands with an impressively sized narrow gauge railroad to connect them all. All four of these mines operated as one to form – for at least a time – a mining conglomerate of a size and scope rivaling any of its time or after.
Such an empire demanded a capital city to serve it – a community of an equal size and scope as the mines it served. With Eagle River too far away, a new community would take shape along the Phoenix’s lands nestled within the crook of land tucked within the river’s cut through the cliffs. . First began around 1845 it was nothing more then a collection of small log cabins to house workers, but as the Phoenix Empire grew so too did the small little community. By 1875 the town had grown to over a thousand residents, large enough to warrant its own school and a pair of churches. It also boasted a general store, a hotel, sawmill, blacksmith shop, several tailors, a jewler, a doctors’s office and its own post office.