What was (and is now) the ‘Function/Use’ of the Cliff?

So the property has a classification and (at some point) will have a hard number of contributing and non-contributing resources that go into that will help support its nomination… and in this next step, the assignment of past and current Functions/Uses.

It’s important to list what a property’s current state of use (or function) in order to facilitate its future management. The National Register guidelines provide a very detailed selection of Function categories to choose from. There are 14 categories as well as 4 categories for difficult to define properties: Work in Progress, Unknown, Vacant/Not in Use, and Other. These categories are used to designate both the property’s historic and current use. Here’s a list along with an applicable example:

Domestic: A single dwelling

Commerce/Trade: A business, or perhaps an archaeological site that shows evince of trade.

Social: A clubhouse (Masonic Temple for instance)

Government: City Hall

Education: School house

Religion: Church

Funerary: Cemetery or burial site

Recreation and Culture: Theater or monument/marker

Agriculture/Subsistence: A pasture, a vineyard, but also a meatpacking plant

Industry/Processing/Extraction: Windmill, factory, or warehouse

Health Care: Hospital

Defense: Battle site or fort

Landscape: Park, natural feature

Transportation: Railroad, lighthouse, or trail system

So which of these categories best defines the historical function of the Cliff Mine?

Industry/Processing/Extraction would be the correct choice.

Of course (just to make things more complicated) each category has several subcategories. So within the Industry/Processing/Extraction category there are 7 subcategories:

Manufacturing facility

Extractive facility


Energy facility

Processing site

Industrial storage

For the Cliff, the proper subcategory is Processing site, since the mining and milling of copper took place on one site, rather than merely an Extractive facility (where only mining occurs).

But what about Clifton you ask? Well, you can have more than one category assigned. So we can also categorize the property as Domestic, with the subcategory of Village site.

As for the property’s current use, the area is considered Vacant/Not in Use. The owners of the rock piles, the Keweenaw County Road Commission, view the site as an Extractive facility, but since at this point they are not removing rock for the creation of gravel and road fill, it is sitting vacant.

So now the property has had its Function/Use categorized for its past and present. Pretty much all the formalities are now out of the way. What’s left is providing the historic context and description that support its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.


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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

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