Hays Memorial

Phoenix | ,

Hays Memorial


John Hays first came to the Keweenaw in 1843, arriving to a copper district not yet tamed by man and still very much wild and rugged. Though originally coming north for his health, Hays quickly found himself caught up with copper fever and purchased himself an interest in several claims in the region. His interest quickly evolved into a full fledged company, formed with several partners in Pittsburgh. That company was the Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company, and would have the distinction of being one of the first to form in the newly opened copper country.

Hays would return to work those claims the following spring, first working a narrow strip of land along Copper Harbor that would end up taking his name – Hays Point. This first claim proved fruitless, and Hays and company moved southward to work the next one. This claim was situated along a soaring 200 foot bluff just south of Eagle River. Encouraged by the discovery of an exposed copper vein atop the bluff, Hays and company began driving and adit into the cliff base to find the vein’s underground extension. By 1845 that effort had resulted in the discovery of a massive piece of copper, larger then any found before it. Buoyed by such success, Hays and his fellow investors infused a new supply of cash into the operation, and the famous Cliff Mine was born.


To commemorate John Hays discovery, the Keweenaw Historical Society erected a small monument at the site of the Cliff Mine in 1930. The memorial consisted of a large stone inlaid with a bronze plaque. The plaque read “On November 18, 1844 on the bluff west of this point named the Cliff Mine, pure metallic copper was first discovered in the world by John Hays of Pittsburg, Pa. – Erected July 31, 1930 Keweenaw Historical Society”.

Contemporary Use

Though still standing today, the old monument has lost its commemorative plaque and now only features a shallow cut-out where that plaque once stood.

Public Access

The monument sits alongside a public roadway and is open to the public.


The Hays Memorial sits along Cliff Drive less then a mile before the Cliff Drive. After leaving Ahmeek along US41 turn left onto Cliff Drive. Follow Cliff Drive for about six miles, the rock that once housed the memorial will be sitting off to the left near a telephone pole.