Cliff Mine underground workings, 1850. (photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives)

This blog follows Industrial Archaeologists from Michigan Technological University during May and June of 2010, as they help document an historic mid-nineteenth century native copper mine in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the Cliff Mine. The Keweenaw is famous as one of the few places on earth where humans found significant quantities of metallic copper, ranging in size from tiny flakes to massive boulders of pure metal. The Cliff Mine (1845-1870), often referred to as the nation’s first great copper mine, focused primarily on mass copper, that being copper found in its native, metallic state. Masses were often found exceeding 50 tons in weight and could take months to break up and remove from underground.

The site sits atop and below the 200-foot greenstone bluff that runs along the spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula, about 30 miles northeast of Houghton, Michigan, and its picturesque location attracts visitors year round. The focus of the project will be to thoroughly document the site in hopes to reconstruct the evolution of the industrial process using clues left by workers as they built, worked, and reworked the site’s shafts, mill, engine house, kilns, stacks, shops, houses and offices.

This project is not just about documenting an historic mine however. It is also about community outreach and involvement in local history. We welcome your interest in the site, both on the blog and in person. Multiple public “Open-Houses” are planned during the field season in order to engage community members in their local history as well as provide an outlet for sharing what it is archaeologists, and Michigan Tech’s Social Sciences Department, do.

4 responses to “About”

  1. Eric Johnson says :

    I can’t wait to see this. I will see you on Saturday the 12th at 10 am with my hiking shoes on!!!

    I think what you guys are doing is amazing, as well as completely necessary to preserve the history of the area before it is obliterated. I have studied the literature about the site, but never fully realized how much was actually left to see!

    Thanks for your work!


  2. Daniel Hopkins says :

    I have been working on digitizing several older maps of the area and placing GPS waypoints on features in the area including shafts and addits. If you are interested in the data that I have compiled send me an email.

    Ever since coming to Tech, these old mining sites have fascinated me. I am glad to see that you are helping to preserve history.

  3. Tom says :

    Do you check this blog. I have a question on a cave / mine opening that may have reopened not far from the stack in one of your pictures

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