Vintage Photos of Copper Harbor, Michigan: 1890s-1950s
I have been up to Copper Harbor a couple of times in the 2000s. The first time a buddy and I tried to make it as far as we could to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula where the old rocket range is. The road was so steep, rocky, and craggy that we just couldn’t go much further…so we just bummed around Copper Harbor for a while.
Archeological digs have shown that over 7000 years ago, the people of the time were separating copper from rock and making all sorts of things: awls, beads, fish hooks, jewelry, knives, and ornaments, all discovered by archaeologists.
In 1840, Governor Stevens Mason appointed Douglass Houghton as Michigan’s first geologist. Houghton’s 1840 published report mentioned the vast amount of copper found in the Keweenaw but at the same time, tried to discourage get-rich-quick opportunists from arriving. It didn’t work – they came anyway. In 1844, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company arrived and began digging in an area that is now called Hayes Point. This became the country’s first serious mining endeavor.
By 1846 a “tent city” had arisen, full of all sorts of explorers, amateur & pro miners, and people looking for quick riches.
With this influx of people, the government figured they should do something to protect the land, copper, and residents. The answer: Fort Wilkins, established in 1844 to keep law and order and protect the mining companies.
1846: Daniel Brockway builds the first log building, the Brockway House Hotel
1848: Copper Harbor’s first lighthouse
1849: Lighthouse lit for the first time
1866: Replacement lighthouse for the original
1882: Only six families and thirty residents remained
Copper mining was not as good as expected at Copper Harbor, so many residents split to other parts of the Keweenaw where mining was more profitable. For the ones who stayed, they were able to make comfortable livings with commercial fishing. Fast-forward to the 2000s, and Copper Harbor is a very popular tourist destination, with numerous cottages for vacationers and miles of beautiful Lake Superior terrain and shoreline.
Below is a gallery with many vintage photos of Copper Harbor…
Copper Harbor, Keweenaw Peninsula