The Copper Country
Long before Columbus reached America, Indians extracted native copper in the Lake Superior region and worked it into articles which were used throughout the continent. French explorers learned of the vast copper deposits, but were not able to mine the metal. In 1771 an English group tried without success to mine copper near the Ontonagon Boulder, a huge mass of native copper weighing three tons. In 1841 Douglass Houghton's survey of copper resources was printed. Prospectors by the hundreds soon flocked here. Boom towns sprang up. The Phoenix was the first real mine to begin operation, but the Cliff was the first to show a profit. Soon miners were tapping the rich deposits all along the Keweenaw Peninsula's backbone. Until 1887 this was the country's leading center of copper production. This has been virtually the only area of the world with any substantial native copper production. Copper is found in combination with other elements at the White Pine Mine where a great new mining operation began in the 1950's.