Exploring the Mining History of the Upper Peninsula

Welcome to the Upper Peninsula, home of Stormy Kromer. A land of breathtaking beauty and rich historical treasures. While many know the UP for its stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures, few are aware of our fascinating mining history. Join us on a journey back in time as we dive into the captivating stories of Michigan’s mining history, culture, and landscape. From the glimmering shores of Lake Superior to the depths of ancient mines, the Upper Peninsula’s mining history awaits.

Carved in Copper 

Hailed as Copper Country, the UP is renowned for its copper mining heritage. Venture to the Keweenaw (kee-win-awe) Peninsula and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of copper-rich history. In the 1800s, copper was king, and miners flocked to the region from all corners of the globe. 

The Quincy Mine, one of the oldest and largest mines in the Keweenaw, offers a glimpse into the life of a miner. Descend into the depths of this historic mine on an underground tour with the Quincy Mine Hoist Association. Hear the echoes of past pickaxes and dynamite blasts when millions of pounds of copper were mined. While Quincy stopped mining in 1945, the reclamation plant continued to produce copper until 1967.

Michigan’s Copper Harbor was discovered long before the 1800s; archeological evidence shows that over 7000 years ago, ancient civilizations dug pits in the ground and used heavy stones to separate the copper from rocks, making bracelets, beads, tools, fishhooks and other products for trade.

Iron Ore

The UP mining narrative also encompasses iron ore. The Marquette Iron Range played a pivotal role in fueling the Industrial Revolution, turning sleepy settlements into thriving cities. Walk along the cliffs of Lake Superior in Marquette, and you can visualize the colossal freighters laden with ore and carried through the Soo Canal

Stop at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, where you’ll step into the boots of ironworkers and learn the arduous process of mining and smelting iron. The museum’s interactive exhibits will transport you back in time to an era that shaped the Upper Peninsula’s identity. 

Ghost Towns

Beyond the grandeur of the well-known mines, the Upper Peninsula holds countless hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Throughout the region, abandoned mines and ghost towns whisper tales of the past, inviting adventurers to uncover their secrets. Hike along scenic trails and let your imagination run wild with stories of those who once inhabited these mining communities.


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mining history is not merely a collection of facts and figures; it embodies the spirit of perseverance, community, and the pursuit of dreams. It shaped the lives of countless individuals, leaving a lasting impact on the region’s culture and traditions. As you explore the mining history, you’ll find that the spirit of the miners still echoes through the forests, the waters, and the communities that call this land home. 

Underground mine shaft tunnel drift turn with rails

Plan Your Journey

Pack your sense of adventure as you embark on a journey through time. Delve into the stories of Michigan’s mining pioneers and the natural wonders shaped by their endeavors. Whether you’re an avid history buff or simply eager to learn something new, Michigan’s mining history promises to inspire and captivate you. 

Come, cast your line into the depths of history, and dive into the wonders of the UP. The treasures you’ll find are not gold or silver but priceless memories and knowledge gained from a journey through time. 

Grab your gear and go. 

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