1850 Copper Mining

LAKE SUPERIOR JOURNAL-OCTOBER 1850

A short visit last year to this interesting section of the Lake Superior Copper Mines, left impressions of its future value that induced in return.

And as many of your readers are interested in the mining works of the country, I have thought to give you the rambles of a week here for what they are work.

On landing at the mouth of the Ontonagon one seen at once a great change-its cresent shores are now studded with buildings; several new and pleasant residences have been built, giving evidence of taste and comfort seldom seen, on the Lake. There is also a large increase of mercantile supplies for mining country. Two lines of boats have made weekly trips here during the past summer and have been well sustained. There are also two keel boats making semi-weekly trips to the landings of the mines up the river, giving a life to the place hardly to be expected from its quiet appearance last year. A keel-boat trip up the river is an interesting one, managed by a dozen Frenchmen or Half-breeds, carrying one hack to the early times of river navigation. Here and there may be seen the cabin of the hardy Pioneer subduing the forest, and bringing the rich-self into cultivation; wherever farming is commenced prosperity succeeds, as I have seen no soil more fertile, no farming country promising greater success. The banks of the river present many scenes of rare beauty; the country is heavely timberd and well watered.

Twelve miles from the Lake we arrived at the mountainous range of trap, the mines nearest the river are the "Forest" on the west, and the "Minnesota" in the east. Ground was first broken at the Forest 10 months since; they have sunk a Shaft 100 feet and are drifting at different points, and will ship about 6 tons copper this season, which is favorable for the first season of mining. Several houses have been erected and they will work 30 men during the winter. A whim has also been put up with other necessary buildings for mining purposes.

The "Minnesota" is the cpioneer of successful mining in the Ontonagon district; for the extent of ground opened, it has been extraordinarily productive. Had their stamp-works been in operation in the early part of the summer their shipments would have reached about 400 tons this season. This mine was first opened in the fall of 1838 and commended with about 20 people who were accommodated by one log cabin; now they have a population of 170 people and with the buildings for mining accommodation, which together with stamp and saw mill give the appearance of a respectable village. Their mining work is progressing rapidly; 4 shafts are being sunk, one is now at the depths of 140 feet; the 1st level is being extended so that by spring it be opened 900 feet long. The 2nd level is now about 500 feet. The produce of the mine and the stamp-work on hand must pay a handsome dividend to the Company next season.

The mines of the District are being opened and worked under favorable circumstances.

Several new companies have started into existence and several old ones have been resuscitated which, with practical ability in their management will no doubt succeed. The question formery so much debated in scientific circles as to their being copper here has been solved beyond a doubt. It has also been proved to be more than mere surface indications. The ancient works of the country, every day more and more developed, show that it has been extensively, mined at a former period when ore and the stone hammer were the only tools used.