Copper mining has had a huge impact on Michigan throughout history. Copper mining has had such an impact that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has a region referred to as “The Copper Country” because of its involvement in the copper-mining industry. The copper-mining industry has also led to technological developments necessary for hoisting and drilling as well as the development of towns and cities in the Keweenaw. In addition, it led to the creation of many potential jobs for residents of the towns that were developed to support these mines.
One of the first attempts to locate and mine this copper was back in 1771 when the first mining expedition was organized. English miners were sent to the New World to locate and mine the copper heard of in Indian tales that had been passed along by the French. These miners had begun their excavation in a clay bank where they had previously seen trickling green copper-containing water with pieces floating in the water nearby. Unfortunately, the frozen roof of the tunnel had thawed and lead to a cave in resulting in the first failed attempt at mining copper in Michigan.
Douglass Houghton had surveyed the Keweenaw’s copper deposits in 1840 and had reported them to the state legislature. These reports sparked interest in mining these deposits in 1841. In 1843, the treaty of LaPointe was signed with the Chippewa which resulted in a mineral land office being opened in Copper Harbor. Investors and prospectors in Copper Harbor began leasing this newly obtained land near Lake Superior for mining expeditions. This led to issuances of permits that would be required for mining operations. Unfortunately, these permits could not be bought nearby. Sault Ste. Marie was the closest place where permits cou...
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...f towns and cities that still exist today. In addition, the opening of mines created jobs which had a positive impact on the economy while the decline of mines led to a sharp decrease in population due to the lack of job opportunities. The era of copper mining also shows the powerful alliance that had formed between Michigan and Boston. Both Michigan mine operators and Boston investors had different kinds of resources that the other lacked. It can be seen that Michigan would not be the way it is today without outside influence from investors and interested prospectors.
William B. Gates, Michigan Copper and Boston Dollars (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), 1.
J. Robert Van Pelt, “Boston and Keweenaw: An Etching in Copper,” American Scientist (1949): 220-221
Larry Lankton, Hollowed Ground (Detroit: Wayne University Press, 2010), 11-13.