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ancient pits along the middle range of trap, though they are not exclusively confined to it.
“Upon Keweenaw Point they have been found extending from Eagle river eastward to range 28, a distance of twelve miles, along the base of the trap range."
It is evident that these early miners were not more advanced towards civilization than the Indians generally, because the mining and other implements found in these ancient excavations, are precisely similar to those which are known to have been in use among the tribes of the Atlantic coast. The stone hammers, made of oral pebbles, grooved about the middle for withes, which formed the handles, were the native instruments for breaking out pieces of copper on Lake Superior, and for breaking the hard rocks of Moosehead Lake, for the arrow and spear-heads of the Eastern Indians. Such hammers, together with half-finished stone scalping-knives, have been found both at Ontonagon and at Eagle River. The Indian miner also assisted the operation of breaking the rocks by kindling fires upon them; and hence the origin of the charred brands and coal that have been found around the battered and beaten projections of copper.
The first Englishman that ever visited the copper region was Alexander Henry, who remained several years there, exploring for minerals. We extract from his journal the following account of his discoveries :
“On the 19th of August, 1765, we reached the mouth of the Ontonagon river, one of the largest on the south side of the lake. At the mouth was an Indian village, and, three leagues above, a fall, at the foot of which sturgeon, at this season, were obtained so abundant that a month's subsistence for a regiment conld have been taken in a few hours. But I found this river chiefly remarkable for the
abundance of virgin copper which is on its banks and in its neighborhood.
“On my way back to Michilimackinaw, I encamped a second time at the mouth of the Ontonagon river, and now took the opportunity of going ten miles up the river with Indian guides. The object for which I most expressly went, and to which I had the satisfaction of being led, was a mass of copper, of the weight, according to my estimate, of no less than five tons. Such was its pure and malleable state, that, with an axe, I was able to cut off a portion weighing a hundred pounds. On viewing the surrounding surface, I conjectured that the mass, at some period or other, had rolled down the side of a lofty bill which rises at its back."
The first copper mining company on Lake Superior was organized by this enterprising explorer. In 1770, Messrs. Baxter, Bostwick, and Henry, built a barge at Pointe aux Pius, and laid the keel of a sloop of forty tons. They were in search of gold and silver, and expected to make their fortunes. The other partners, in England, were "His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester; Mr. Secretary Townshend; Sir Samuel Tuchet, Bart. ; Mr. Baxter, Consul of the Empress of Russia, and Mr. Cruikshank; in America, Sir William Johnson, Bart., Mr. Bostwick, Mr. Baxter, and myself. A charter had been petitioned for and obtained; but owing to our ill success, it was never taken from the seal office.” The sloop and other effects of the Company, were sold by Mr. Baxter to pay its debts. The American Revolution shortly after com
1 In 1820, Schoolcraft, who accompanied General Cass on his expedition to the Mississippi, mentions this rock in his journal, “as one of the largest and most remarkable bodies of native copper on the globe.” A few years later it was removed to Washington, where it may now be seen lying on the ground, near the War Department.
menced, and the mineral resources of the lakes were forgotten.
The celebrated Captain Jonathan Carver, who visited these regions about the year 1769, in his observations on the copper mines of Lake Superior, says :—“It might, in fnture times, be made a very advantageous trade, as the metal, which costs nothing on the spot, and requires but little expense to get it on board, could be conveyed in boats and canoes through the Falls of St. Mary, to the Isle of St. Joseph, which lies at the bottom of the strait, near the entrance of Lake Huron ; from thence it might be put on board larger vessels, and in them be transported across that lake to the Falls of Niagara ; then being carried by land across the portage, it might be conveyed without much more obstruction to Quebec. The cheapness and ease with which any quantity of it may be procured, will make up for the length of way that is necessary to transport it before it reaches the sea coast, and enable the proprietors to send it to foreign markets on as good terms as it can be exported from other countries."
Samuel Preston, in a letter dated Stockport, Pa., May 1st, 1820, says:
" Dr. Franklin told me that when he was drawing the treaty of peace with England in the city of Paris, he had access to the journals and charts of a corps of French engineers, that had sloops and were exploring Lake Superior when Quebec fell to the British, from which chart he drew the line through Lake Superior to include the most and the best of the copper to the United States; and the time would come, when drawing that line would be considered the greatest service he ever rendered his country. The facilities of transportation would be well improved so as to export that copper ore to Europe cheaper than they raised it from their own mines."
The experiment of sending ships loaded with native
oopper from Lake Superior has never yet been tried. There can be no doubt of its success. Ships have cleared from Chicago loaded with grain for Liverpool, which brought high prices on arrival. The distance from the mines of the lake is somewhat less to the ocean than from Chicago, A great part of the copper in some of these mines is found nearly pure, and taken out in masses of from one to ten tons in weight. Several years ago, a block of copper from Lake Superior was sent to London as a specimen; the geologists there could not be convinced, at first, but that it was a Yankee trick—they had never heard of copper being found in such a pure state, and supposed the block had been cast for the purpose of exhibition. The writer passed through the Sault Sto. Marie Canal, on the propeller Manhattan, in July, 1856, with a cargo of about two hundred tons of nearly pure copper. A large part of it was in masses of from two to six tons weight; there were also many barrels containing virgin copper in small lumps, from six to eight hundred pounds to the barrel. This cargo was consigned to Detroit and Cleveland.
The first definite information in regard to the mineral resources of Lake Superior, was published in 1841, by Dr. Douglas Houghton, Geologist to the State of Michigan; and his report did more than anything else to awaken public interest in this region. In 1843, the Chippewas ceded their lands, extending from the Chocolate to the Montreal river, and southerly as far as the boundary of Wisconsin, to the United States. Upon the ratification of the treaty numerous settlers arrived, among them several miners from Wisconsin, who selected large tracts of land, including many of those now occupied by the best mines of the country. In the summer of 1844, the first mining operations were commenced, and many masses of native copper, some of which contained silver, and were of large size, were dis
covered. These facts were reported in the Eastern citie with great exaggerations, and a great excitement, or "copper fever," ensued; and, in 1845, the shores of Keweenaw Point were whitened with the tents of speculators and so-called geologists.
In 1846, the excitement had reached its climax; the speculations in stocks were continued as long as it was possible to find a purchaser, and a serious injury was inflicted on the mining interests of the country by the unprincipled attempts to palm off worthless land as containing valuable veins. But every such mania must have an end, and in 1847 the bubble had burst, many were ruined, and the country was almost deserted. Out of all the companies which had been formed, not more than half a dozen were actually engaged in mining.
Since this period, public attention has been again drawn toward the Superior country. Its mineral lands have been partly surveyed, and much information obtained relating to localities where the ores of copper, iron and silver abound. A considerable number of mining companies have been organized, and some of them are in successful operation. The time has now arrived when public opinion is convinced of the value of mineral productions; and it is understood that good working mines are sure to command and reward the energies of capitalists and miners, since it is proved that mining is liable to no greater risks of failure than ordinary mercantile enterprises, provided due precaution be exercised by the adventurers in the selection of their mines, and in working them to advantage.
As it is desirable to give as full an account as possible of the vast mineral wealth of Lake Superior, we shall embody in this chapter the statements of Dr. Charles T. Jackson, late U.S. Geologist and Chemist, as given in his report