Temporal Boundaries

So the physical boundaries of the Cliff Mine nominated property have been defined. But what of the time period of significance? This determination is important for considerations of future management, as well as refining the scope of possible narratives about the site useful for future funding (grants, for instance). For starters, a nominated property must […]

First Things First: Defining Boundaries

For the majority of National Register nominated properties, defining a boundary isn’t too difficult. The historic home is defined by it’s lot (unless it’s just one of several historic homes—then perhaps the entire block/neighborhood). Same goes for most other architectural resources. But what of a landscape? Is it enough to only include a 100 year […]

What is the National Register of Historic Places?


As stated by the Guidelines for Completing National Register of Historic Places Forms, “The National Register of Historic Places is the official Federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. These [places] contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation.” These places include all prehistoric and historic properties of the National Park System, all National Historic Landmarks, and properties that have been successfully nominated for inclusion by State Historic Preservation Officers, Federal agencies, and even you.

To qualify for the National Register, a property must possess both historic significance and integrity. Significance is tied to “four aspects recognized by the National Register Criteria.”

  • Criteria A: Association with historic events or activities.
  • Criteria B: Association with important persons.
  • Criteria C: Distinctive design or physical characteristics.
  • Criteria D: Potential to provide important information about prehistory or history.

The first two criteria are fairly straightforward. The site of an important battle (or in our case, the first profitable copper mine in Michigan) is a great example of significance under Criteria A. The birthplace of an American President would be one example falling under Criteria B. Criteria C is often associated with architecture or perhaps (in the case of the Copper Country) a well preserved company town/district. But it can also refer to an excellent example of workmanship or technical practice not tied to a specific piece of architecture. For instance, one building may not be individually significant, but a collection of structures could embody a distinctive method of creation, use, or process. Criteria D is generally associated with archaeological resources. The property may not include any standing/obvious features at the surface, but beneath that surface may be found years and years worth of resources related to some aspect of our nation’s history and/or prehistory.

Beyond historic significance, a nominated property must also contain a level of integrity. This is defined as “the authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s prehistoric or historic period.” A property is measured against seven qualities that can determine historic integrity:

  • Location
  • Design
  • Setting
  • Materials
  • Worksmanship
  • Feeling
  • Association

A property does not need to meet all seven qualities, but it must meet at least one.

As you continue following my education in completing one of these nominations, I’ll return to these ideas of historic significance and integrity, and discuss how the Cliff mine and Clifton meet (and in some cases, don’t meet) these Criteria and qualities.

Next time I’ll discuss the importance of defining appropriate boundaries for your nominated property.

The blog is back. Happy 2014!

Welcome back to the Cliff Mine Archaeology Project blog. I started this blog back in the spring of 2010 to follow research that formed the heart of my Master’s thesis. I continued working at Cliff for the next two summers, focusing on excavations at the mine’s stamp mill location. In 2012, additional student researchers joined […]

Excellent Keweenaw Summer

Sam Sweitz took this photo from one of the overlooks on the bluff overlooking the Cliff and Clifton. This weekend’s weather will finally be perfect for an open house! Come see the dig this weekend before we backfill for the season.

Final Open House Weekend for 2013

Hello all- This weekend is the final open house for the 2013 field season.  We will have lots going on at the site, even though the rain has kept our excavation units flooded by the high water table. We are trying to finish the excavation of four trenches, all of which visitors can see when […]

Prepared for your visit to the Cliff?

If you’ve never been to the site before, or you are a new reader of the blog, you may not know that we’ve posted some videos to YouTube over the past few years.  I’m reposting this video that Mark Dice completed in 2010!


Mark made this video before we had started any excavations at the site, but it still serves as a great introduction for those planning a visit. It answers questions like, “where is the nearest toilet?” and “what might I see?”

The weather will be spotty- but it looks good for the morning with thunderstorms developing in the afternoon.  We will watch the NEXRAD radar to keep an eye on things.  Thunderstorms create unsafe conditions, as do high winds, so we will be out working and hosting guests today, unless strong storms drive us away!

Two Rainy Days

The past two days have been pretty rainy. The research team has excavated down to the water table, so the deepest trenches start to fill up with water when we’ve had rain, so we couldn’t get much done in the field. As a result, we’ve spent two days working in the lab, having lectures and […]

Rainy Friday

It looks like we may get rained out again today. Even worse, the weekend looks pretty bad too. I’ll post early each morning about whether or not we’ve been rained out each day. The research team will spend another day in the lab today, I think. That may allow me to get some blog posts […]

Remaining public tours scheduled for 2013

WE hope that everyone will come to visit us this summer in June!  The first weekend allowed us to work out the tour’s basics and the visitors helped us to think about how we could improve the experience. Cliff is an important site with a fascinating history, and we hope to share it with as […]