Copper prospectors first descended on the Copper Country in all earnest around 1845, flocking to the government land office set up on Porter’s Island to make their claims. From there they headed inland through the thick forest and rugged ridges of the peninsula’s interior in search of their fortune. But the great copper deposits were far to the south, and the scattering of small fissure deposits found here in the north were not nearly rich enough to support a mine – much less make a profit. For the years to follow optimistic investors sunk dozens of shafts across the wilderness, all of which were soon abandoned. The costs of sinking shafts, building infrastructure and clearing roads far exceeded the money earned on what little copper was discovered. The regions early copper rush was a failure.
One of the largest of these early failures was the Clark Mine. Established in 1853, a total of eight shallow shafts and three adits were sunk into a small vein of copper discovered a mile south of Copper Harbor. Before long the mines initial investment was depleted without any sizable amounts of copper having been recovered. The mine was forced to close down only a year later. The mine would change hands several times in the decades to follow, and sporadic work was carried on unsuccessfully until 1901 when the mine was finally abandoned for good.