1850 Eagle River Mining

Lake Superior Journal, July 28, 1850

After a pleasant ride of about 24 hours on the supub Steamer Manhattan—with her fine accommodations and gentlemanly and obliging officers, no person can pass the time otherwise, than agreeable—we found ourselves at Carp River, the landing place for the Iron region of Lake Superior. We were soon stowed away in comfortable quarters, by the hospitality of Mr. Harlow, the manager of the Marquette Iron Co., under whose enterprising management, surrounded by many difficulties that can scarcely be appreciated by those unacquainted with commencing business in a wilderness, where ever thing has to be brought from a great distance, and being necessarily compelled frequently to employ men in branches of business they are wholly unacquainted with, in the short space of 12 months has grown up a very respectable establishment. They have now a steam saw mill in operation, which turns out a large amount of beautiful pine lumber, all of which, has as yet, and will for some time to come, be used on the ground. They are erecting a forge house, machine house, engine shop, mill house, barn, store house, dwellings, a church, and all of which are being built in a substantial and durable manner. They are now working about 70 men, and will in a short time be making iron pretty extensively. They have divine service twice ever Sabbath, under the care of a respectable Congregationalist Minister, the Rev. Dr. Morse.

Our next visit was to the oilstone factory of Messrs. Smith and Pratt, who are preparing to manufacture them upon a pretty large scale, with machinery, and judging from the quantity of specimens we examined, this will be an item of Lake Superior production of some considerable importance.

From the Marquette works we traveled some 10 or 12 miles to the Jackson works, who are the pioneers in the iron business of Lake Superior. At their forge has been made all the iron that has been shipped from the Lake. Their machinery is propelled by water, it is in most of its details very imperfect, and it is only wonderful that they can make iron at all—but with the improvements they contemplate making, and the vast amount of water power and ore, owned by the company, there is nothing but capital and perseverance wanting, to enable them to make iron to almost an unlimited extent.

Three miles from the Jackson works brought us into the iron, mines, or mountains, as they might properly be called; and, although we had heard many flattering and, as we thought, exaggerated accounts of these mines, we were not prepared to expect any thing like it. The iron lays in ridges or mountains with acres of it naked and exposed to view, varying from 20 to 200 feet in height, but how far east, west, north or south, or how far it extends downwards, is unknown, but from what we saw, I should think, we hazard nothing is saying there is enough to supply the wants of the civilized world for a number of centuries to come.

It lays in stratified layers, very easily quarried and requiring no selecting, being unmixed with stone, earth, or anything but the ore, yielding form 65 to 80 percent of iron, of a quality, it is believed from actual experiments made, unsurpassed by any iron in the world.

The only obstacle to bringing this iron immediately and extensively into market is some mode of conveyance more economical and expeditious than common roads. Two plans, or routes, both feasible, present themselves; one, by Railroad from the Iron Mountains to Bay de Noquet, Lake Michigan; the other, by Railroad from the mines to Lake Superior, and a ship canal around the Falls at Saut Ste. Marie.

But if there was a Railroad from Bay de Noque to Lake Superior at the mouth of Carp River, through the Iron Mines, and a ship canal around the Ste. Marie Falls, there is Iron enough to keep both ends, or routes at work for centuries to come; and it does seem to me that a matter of such vast importance should claim the early attention and prompt action of Congress.