Today I received an email from Gina Nicholas, of the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District. Next week, the HKCD is going to hold a meeting for representatives of different stakeholder groups with interest in the Cliff Mine site and the remediation of stamp sands from historic sites along the Eagle River. During the meeting, Chad Kotke will present an update of the DEQ remediation plan. After this meeting, the Conservation District holds their public meeting, during which Mr. Kotke will give a lecture about the project.
If you have an interest in the Cliff or Clifton, consider contacting a representative of one of these organizations to discuss your views. Of course, the public is always invited to join the Conservation District.
Dear Cliff Mine Stakeholders,A meeting with Chad Kotke, DEQ, is scheduled for Thursday, March 21 from 2:00-3:30 PM at the MTU Lakeshore Center, first floor board room, to discuss plans for Cliff and restoration of the Eagle River. You and your organization have been identified as key stakeholders and we hope you or a designee(s) will attend.
Organizations invited include:Keweenaw County Road Commission (KCRC)Keweenaw County Historical Society (KCHS)Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP)Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC)Michigan Tech — Industrial Archaeology ProgramNatural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD)Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
If you think there are other key stakeholders please call me.Attached for your use is a map of the Cliff site.Please call me if you have any questions about this meeting.We look forward to seeing you on March 21!
Join Michigan Tech industrial archaeologists in documenting a historic copper mine in the heart of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The Keweenaw is famous for its abundant formations of native copper, ranging in size from pebbles to record-breaking boulders of pure metal. Our ongoing project investigates the ruins of the Cliff Mine, the region’s first profitable copper mine, the townsite of Clifton (established 1845, peaked c.1870, and abandoned in the early 20th century), and comparable sites on the Keweenaw. The “Cliff Vein” produced over 38 million pounds of refined copper over a 40-year period, paying dividends to its investors totaling $2.5 million. People working in the mine and living in the town transformed the social and technological practices of mining, adapting to the mass copper running through the region’s rich veins and starting America’s first successful industrial mining boom. The Cliff site is situated along the 200-foot greenstone bluff that runs up the spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula, about 30 miles northeast of Houghton, Michigan.
Fieldwork in Clifton during the 2012 season included both Wide Area Excavation and Shovel Test Probe survey.
Learning archaeological fieldwork is an immersive experience where teamwork is essential. It takes weeks of work before a person can begin assembling the clues from each discovery into meaningful pictures of the past. As a result, students should expect the work to be exacting, often slow, and physically challenging, as one develops professional skills over time. We work eight-hour days in all conditions, five days a week (generally Wednesday through Sunday) throughout the six-week summer course. All that time is essential to the process of learning tools and techniques, as well as piecing together the clues of Cliff and Clifton. Students should expect to do the actual fieldwork instead of watching other people work and tell you what it all means. Every day, each person adds an important piece to this large, multiyear, interdisciplinary jigsaw puzzle that is rediscovering Cliff and its community.
The class is led by Associate Professors Timothy Scarlett and Samuel Sweitz, in close collaboration with Project Archaeologists Sean Gohman and Lee Presley. The course runs May 13th-June 28th, 2013. Instruction is enhanced through the active participation by guest scholars and experts in Copper County industrial and preindustrial history, archaeological and environmental sciences, and planning and industrial heritage studies. The course may be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit.
Our research is driven by questions posed by a team of graduate students and faculty, as we pursue several intertwined threads:
• We are reconstructing the evolution of the mine’s industrial processes during its heyday, using clues left by workers as they built, worked, and reworked the site’s shafts, mills, engine houses, stacks, shops, houses, and offices.
• We are excavating in town to recover artifacts that tell stories about the residents’ daily lives, putting “meat on the bones” of the animals they ate and illustrating the material worlds they built in their homes, churches, and schools.
• We have established a landscape archaeology theme as well, in which we are using bioarchaeological, geoarchaeological, and archaeochemical studies to enhance our understanding of how the residents transformed the Keweenaw’s ecological setting. Our effort ties the people of the Cliff Mine to the transformations of the entire region as farms and villages waxed and economic, social, and ecological relationships with Cliff waned.
On the Cliff Mine and Clifton site, students will learn a wide range of archaeological field methods and gain proficiency using important equipment and tools, within a committed public archaeology context. Examples of what team members learn include the following:
• consulting documents, maps, aerial photos, and oral history during excavation and survey, including several different types of remote sensing (satellite, aerial, ground-based, and maritime remote sensing systems have all been used in past seasons);
• using traditional mapping technologies, along with LiDAR, Global Position Systems (GPS), and digital Total Station (EDM) tools, in mapping landscape details such as walls, structures, and roadways for the purpose of creating “living” geospatial environments within a Geographic Information System database;
• working with both “wide area” excavation and Shovel Test Pit survey for data recovery, including appropriate sampling methodology to ensure that artifacts are representative of the larger area;
• completing measured drawings of architectural remains with traditional tools, as well as digital equipment like EDMs and LiDAR, to produce measured drawings;
• sampling for archaeobotanical, geoarchaeological, and archaeochemical analyses;
• ethically driven decision making about artifact collection, cleaning, identification, analyses, and conservation, with concern for industrial archaeological sites in particular; and
• working with stakeholder and descendant communities in the responsible conduct of public scholarship and research with industrial heritage; including legal, ethical, and environmental issues surrounding industrial communities, sites, and landscapes.
During time off, students will be able to enjoy the rich cultural and natural heritage of Michigan’s spectacular Keweenaw Peninsula and the shores of Lake Superior. A short drive brings visitors in reach of two national parks, two national forests, several state parks and wilderness areas, industrial heritage museums and monuments, miles of public lakeshore, watersports, and world-class mountain biking trails. Students are also encouraged to attend the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial Archaeology in Minneapolis, Minnesota!
More information about class registration and costs can be found here:
Early in the field season I was contacted via email by Frank Hutton, a photographer and artist interested in the Lake Superior basin’s cultural and natural wonders. Frank has a blog running, “In Search of Perfect Light…,” and asked me if he could visit our workings and maybe write up a post on his visit. […]
Sorry for the lapse in posting everyone. I’ve been pretty busy with things outside of Cliff research for the past month. First, I had to work on and finish a report for one of my funders. Second, I got married and there were TWO receptions in two different parts of the Midwest. I’ve therefore been […]
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At the opposite end of things in the stamp room area of the mill site we have another excavation going. I am interested in seeing just how long the stamp room was. According to historic photos the stamp room extended eastward more than the wash-house did. The two buildings therefore made a “T” shape. The stamp […]
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Hello readers, I am Alejandra Alvarez Jimenez, I am from Colombia and I am really excited to tell you about my experience in the Upper Peninsula. I am an anthropologist in the Industrial Archaeology Master’s Program at Michigan Tech. This is my second year and I can tell you that this year I have had […]
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Over the weekend there was a rumor that the Protestant (aka- Hillside) cemetery had been vandalized and that some of the monuments had been removed. I went out to check this out and it is all a false alarm. The fact is a tree has fallen right where you usually enter into the cemetery and […]
I’m told this story ran on Sunday night.
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We had some decent weather yesterday and that brought out over 80 visitors to the site. From what I gather some of our visitors spent hours visiting the excavations and then hiking along the cleared trails using a map we’ve created for the event. Another mild day today will hopefully mean a higher number. We’ve […]
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Hello, friendly blog-enjoyers. My name is Carol Griskavich and I am pursuing my Masters of Industrial Archaeology here at Michigan Tech. I like to say I came by this field honestly – my dad being a metallurgist and mom a librarian – but in reality it’s my provision of some answers to my childhood refrain […]