Copper Harbor

Copper Country Heritage Guide - Locations

State geologist Douglass Houghton first arrived to this natural harbor along the Keweenaw’s northern shore around 1837, and almost immediately discovered signs of copper along its rocky shore. Subsequent trips to the region would provide even more compelling evidence of the rich copper deposits buried within the peninsulas rugged interior – a fact that would be featured prominently in Houghton’s report to the governor detailing the peninsula’s resources. As word made its way out east, investors and prospectors began arriving at the Keweenaw to stake their claims. In response the US government quickly established a Mineral Land Agency at Copper Harbor, and started the process of selling off mineral leases in 1843. The Copper Rush was on, and with it the birth of the town of Copper Harbor.

Soon the town became home to several boarding houses and hotels, providing homes on the frontier for the hundreds of arriving prospectors and immigrants. Burgeoning mine companies chose the town to locate their company offices and warehouses. To insure security, the US Government established an army fort along nearby Lake Fanny Hooe and laid out a military road southward that connected it with another fort at Green Bay. To increase safety for arriving ships, the government also built the regions first lighthouse on a rocky point at the mouth of the harbor.

Unfortunately the copper deposits at Copper Harbor’s doorstep were found to be relatively poor, and mines moved further south in search of better fortunes. The village’s population dwindled, the fort was abandoned, and the post office was moved inland to the Clark Mine location. But the arrival of the automobile would give Copper Harbor new life, as it and the neighboring fort ruins became popular auto touring destinations. With the completion of the scenic Brockway Mountain Drive and Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, the village’s transformation into tourist destination was complete, a role it has played ever since.

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West Bluff

Brockway Mountain Drive

Copper Harbor – Reached via the highest scenic drive in Michigan, this rugged bluff provides a stunning view across the Keweenaw’s north shore, Medora Lake, and the peninsula lush and rugged interior.

Clark Mine

Clark Mine

Clark Mine – One of the Keweenaw’s earliest Fissure Mines, the Clark is memorialized by and impressive stone smokestack that continues to stand tall over the old mine site.

Copper Harbor Cemetery

Copper Harbor Cemetery

Copper Harbor – Set along the base of Brockway Mountain this 150 year old burial ground is one of the peninsula’s oldest, established for the peninsula’s earliest settlers and prospectors.

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor – One of the oldest lighthouses on Lake Superior, this classically designed rubble rock building marks the entrance to the Keweenaw’s premier copper port.

Fanny Hooe Creek Bridge

Fanny Hooe Creek Bridge

Copper Harbor – This unique cement arch bridge crossing Fanny Hooe Creek was built in 1927 to facilitate the use of the newly opened state park on the other side.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

Copper Harbor – This rustic north woods inspired lodge was built during the Depression as part of a government works project, along with a complimentary set of cabins and an adjacent 9-hole golf course.

Keweenaw Rocket Range

Keweenaw Rocket Range

Copper Harbor – Once used as a rocket launch site, this remote lakeshore overlooking the Gull Rock lighthouse is littered with several rocky outcroppings and unspoiled cobblestone coves.

Lady of the Pines Church

Lady of the Pines Church

Copper Harbor – Built entirely out of hand-hewn pine, this rustic Catholic church was built in 1952 to serve Copper Harbor’s seasonal residents.

Porter's Island

Porter’s Island

Copper Harbor – This thin sliver of land fronting Copper Harbor was once home to the government’s land office where prospective mines could lease plots of land for exploration. Today it’s part of the neighboring State Park.