Cliff Mine

Copper Country Heritage Guide - Types

Probably the most famous of all Copper Country fissure mines, the Cliff Mine was opened by the Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company – the premiere Lake Superior copper mining company. First opened in 1845, the mine was opened at the site of the discovery of a massive coper boulder just southwest of Eagle River. The boulder was found within a 70 foot drift at the base of the Greenstone ridge, just a portion of a massive fissure deposit the Cliff would mine for the next thirty years. The mine was almost instantly successful, and was able to pay its first dividend in 1849 – the first ever to do so in the Copper Country. Almost overnight the Cliff became a celebrity an ushered in a renewed enthusiasm for the region.

The Cliff operated through four shafts, two at the cliff’s base and another two up atop its bluff. In addition to those shafts there was also a long adit driven into the cliff’s base. A large collection of wood framed and rock walled buildings were established, as well as a sprawling mining town in the neighboring lowlands. Though rarely needed due to the mine’s mass nature, a small stamp mill was also built nearby align the West Branch of the Eagle River.

Unfortunately as the mine deepened its costs became prohibitive, and though plenty of copper was still believed to exist, the mine was closed and sold off in 1870. Through the next half century the mine would be operated sporadically on and off through various owners (including the Tamarack and C&H) but never achieved any further success. The mine was finally abandoned for good in the 1950’s and its rotting surface plant allowed to be retaken by nature.

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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.