Copper Country Heritage Guide - Types

Due to the Keweenaw’s extreme northern location and its wilderness nature, the only way to reach its copper rich shores was by means of Lake Superior. While there were several protected coves and harbors littered along the peninsula, the sharp rocks and steep cliffs found along the majority of the Keweenaw’s shore made entering those protected refuges difficult. As the copper rush began in earnest in the 1840’s, the need for navigational aides became abundantly clear.

The first lighthouse built along the peninsula was at Copper Harbor – only the second lighthouse to be built on Lake Superior up to that time. As mine companies moved south, new lighthouses were constructed in more convenient ports such as Eagle Harbor and Eagle River. With the opening of the Soo Locks along the St. Mary’s River, boat traffic to the region exploded. Even more lighthouses became urgently needed, and in the end close to a dozen lighthouses were put into surface up and down the peninsula.

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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.

Eagle Harbor Light Station

Eagle Harbor – Guarding the entrance to the protected waters of Eagle Harbor, this brick building with corner light tower was erected in 1871 to replace the harbor’s original lighthouse built in 1850.

Eagle River Lighthouse

Eagle River – Built in 1873, this rather uninspired lighthouse once guided freighters to the copper-packed docks of the Cliff and Phoenix mines.

Mendota Lighthouse

Lac La Belle – This quaint structure was built to mark the entrance to the man-made Mendota Canal, which connected Lake Superior to the mills and smelters found along the shores of Lac La Belle.

North Entry Light

Hancock – This art-deco inspired design accenting a sprawling rock breakwall was built in 1950 to replace an earlier light marking the entrance to the Portage Canal.

Portage River Lighthouse

Jacobsville – This iconic sandstone tower with detached keepers dwelling was built in 1869 to help guide ships to the mouth of the navigable Portage River.

South Entry Light

Jacobsville – Located at the end of massive half-mile long pier, this octagonal shaped steel tower marks the east entrance to the Keweenaw Waterway.