This range, named for the Menominee River which runs through part of it, is one of the great iron districts in the Upper Peninsula. In 1846 Wm. A. Burt,
the discoverer of the Marquette Iron Range,
noted signs of iron ore in the Crystal Falls area. In 1849, federal geologist J. W. Foster found ore near Lake Antoine and two years later he and J. D. Whitney confirmed Burt's report on the Crystal Falls district. The first mining activity began in 1872 at the Breen Mine where ore had been discovered in the 60's by the Breen brothers, timber cruisers from Menominee. Development of the range was delayed until a railroad could be built from Escanaba. The Breen and Vulcan mine shipped 10,405 tons of ore in 1877 when the railroad was built as far as Quinnesec. By 1880 it reached Iron Mountain and Florence, and in 1882 tracks were laid to Crystal Falls and Iron River. Twenty-two mines made shipments of ore that year. A few crumbling ruins are all that remain of most of them, but in subsequent decades more mines were developed which have produced vast amounts of ore for America's iron and steel mills.