Phoenix

Copper Country Heritage Guide - Locations

Only a couple years after the great copper rush began along the Keweenaw, things were looking grim. As prospectors rushed into the rugged hills of the peninsula, they quickly found the terrain unforgiving and the copper scarce. Newly established mines quickly exhausted their cash supplies in search for only a marginal amount of copper. Mine after mine failed, and investor after investor lost their shirts in the process. In desperation companies moved southward, hoping that the great copper lodes Houghton suggested did indeed exist. It would be 1845 – with the discovery of the copper-rich Cliff Mine – that faith would be restored. The region would never look the same.

The first copper mine to pay a dividend to its investors, the Cliff proved that copper in profitable quantities did indeed exist. The mine would spark a second copper rush, this time concentrated along the miles of steep cliffs in the peninsula’s interior, known today as the Cliff Range. The Cliff Mine was soon joined by several new mines including the sprawling Phoenix Mine just a mile to the east. These mines were accompanied by hastily constructed town sites, home to stores, churches, schools, and hundreds of houses and bunk-houses for the mine’s workers.

As the mines grew, so too did these towns. Before long the town at the Cliff Mine – known as Cliffton – had become one of the largest settlements in the Keweenaw. For the next twenty years the mine and town prospered. With the mine’s inevitable closure in 1870, a lot of the town’s residents and a few of its buildings migrated a mile to the east – to the Phoenix Mine. While never as successful as its neighbor, the Phoenix managed to stay in intermittent operation for a few more decades – sustaining the town of Phoenix in the meantime. Unfortunately the mine would finally succumb to the Depression, and the town of Phoenix would all but disappear.

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Bammert Blacksmith Shop

Bammert Blacksmith Shop

Phoenix – Originally built in the 1880’s to serve the neighboring Cliff Mine, this old blacksmith shop has been outfitted with all the latest 19th century iron working equipment and gear.

Cliff Cemetery (Catholic)

Cliff Cemetery (Catholic)

Phoenix – First used around 1866, the remains of this picturesque cemetery lie shrouded among a lush carpet of clover deep within an old cedar forest.

Hillside Cemtery

Hillside Cemtery

Phoenix – One of two cemeteries to serve the Cliff Mine, the Hillside sits up against the base of the neighboring cliff and served the Protestants.

Cliff Mine

Phoneix – First opened in 1844, the Cliff Mine was the region’s first to earn a profit and pay dividends to its investors. Over a century later the vast ruins of the great mine can still be found along the base of a soaring rock cliff.

Hays Memorial

Hays Memorial

Phoenix – Originally erected in 1930, this large boulder near the Cliff Mine was once home to a bronze plaque commemorating the life and work of John Hays, one of the founders of the Cliff Mine.

Phoenix Church

Phoenix – This picturesque church was originally located in the neighboring mining town of Cliff, before being moved here after the mine’s abandonment.

Phoenix Mine

Phoenix Mine

Phoenix – One of the earliest mine companies to organize on the peninsula, the former Lake Superior Mining company would survive into the 20th century as the Phoenix with only limited success.