The great rocky ridge that thrusts upward along the Keweenaw’s spine is broken just north of Calumet by a wide valley known as the Allouez Gap. Here the highlands of the Calumet area plunge into a swampy valley which drains westward along Hill’s Creek. The region’s unique geology created the perfect conditions for the formation of copper, resulting in one of the most copper rich regions along the peninsula. The regions first copper mine – the Allouez – began mining along the gaps southern flank in 1869. While not entirely successful, the mine paved the way for the several that would follow and would usher in nearly a century of prosperity for the area.
Due to the large number of mines scattered across the gap, several communities sprung up in the shadows of those rock-houses and smokestacks. The area’s large population prompted area businessmen to establish the town of Ahmeek, a town where saloons could flourish without mine company intervention. As the Ahmeek Mine prospered over the years, so too did the town of Ahmeek which quickly became the center of commerce in the area.