Copper Country Road Trips: Copper Mining sites in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

A Guide to Michigan's Keweenaw Copper District
By Lawrence J. Molloy

The new updated version of
Copper Country Road Trips

Enjoy Keweenaw History
From The Comfort Of Your Car

Copper Country Road Trips has been updated & filled with
Photographs, Maps, and Tours of the Keweenaw . . . Past & Present

A Guide to Michigan's Keweenaw Copper District
Enjoy Keweenaw History From The Comfort Of Your Car
by Lawrence J. Molloy

Larry Molloy is a professor at Oakland Community College. He gives guest lectures about the Keweenaw to the Michigan History classes at O.C.C. and leads the historical tours for the Copper Country Mineral Retreat (copper) conference at Michigan Technological University

This is a guidebook to the copper mining history of the Keweenaw Peninsula. As a child, Larry Molloy wrote that he "often wondered who made those big rock piles and what were those big metal buildings with slanted sides. Finally my curiosity got the better of me and I began to readguide book for the keweenaw peninsula about who and what made the Keweenaw so unique. As a historian I'd found a new playground, a place where I could not only see history out of the car window but get out and climb all over it."

The Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan was the most important site in the world for pure native copper. Mining operations began in 1845 and continued until 1968. During that time over 7 million tons of refined copper were recovered from the Keweenaw's native copper mines. From 1845 to 1865, the Keweenaw Peninsula mines accounted for three-fourths of America's copper production.

Keweenaw copper was so pure that a piece brought out of a mine could be formed into pots and pans without smelting or refining. From 1843 to the 1920's, the Keweenaw Peninsula was the only place on earth where pure, workable native copper was found in commercial quantities.

Towns grew up around the mines and many of these towns still exist today. As you travel through the Keweenaw, you may see a shaft house in the distance, foundations of mills, a standing smelter, a narrow gauge railroad or many other relics of our past.

copper mining guide book

Larry Molloy takes you on 6 car tours of our historical area: The Quincy Mine location in Hancock; the Houghton - Calumet Loop; the North Keweenaw Tour covering the area from Calumet to Copper Harbor; the Ontonagon County Tour; and the Baraga County Tour. The tours in the book include maps, pictures, historical information and precise directions. If structures are dangerous to enter, you will be told about it. If there are structures that require a short walk, you will be told the length and walking conditions. You will even be told the best place to park.

You might visit the Redridge Steel Dam, considered a marvel of the engineering world. This steel gravity dam, built in 1900, stood 74' high and could impound one and one quarter billion gallons of water to supply two mills. A railroad trestle for the mills ran across the top of the dam. Explore the old mining cemeteries. See where the native Americans found the Ontonagon Copper Boulder, now in the Smithsonian Institute. Visit the location of the Minesota Mine, probably the richest mine in the Keweenaw, where a copper mass weighing 527 tons was discovered.

copper mining in the upper peninsula

Stop at the museum in Rockland and learn about the invention of the Taylor Air Compressor, a source of power with no moving parts. Air bubbles from falling water were captured in a chamber and the compressed air supplied power for the nearby Victoria Mine. Then take a tour of the restored town of Victoria and the small museum on the grounds.

Discover where "Helltown" was located. Go to Silver City, where a small vein of silver was found which started the useless "Silver Rush". Take the narrated tour (short, easy walk) of the Nonesuch Mine at the Porcupine Mountains or head for Pequaming where you may visit the Pinery Indian Cemetery and also the model town built by Henry Ford.

These places, and many, many more, are all described in this great guide book. Be sure to have it along as you travel in the Keweenaw Peninsula.


To experience the type of tours described in Copper Country Road Trips, Take a short tour with Larry Molloy going from Hancock east on M-26 to Hubbell.


Map of the Houghton-Calumet Tour Loop

A Guide to Michigan's Historic Keweenaw Copper District
is the updated edition of Copper Country Road Trips:
Enjoy Keweenaw History From The Comfort Of Your Car
by Lawrence J. Molloy

May be purchased for $29.00 including shipping & handling

U.P. Candle Company
Gitche Gumee Landing
202 Ontonagon Street
Ontonagon, Michigan, 49553
Phone: 906-884-6618 or Fax: 906-884-6753


E-Mail Richard Whiteman at for more information

Great Lakes GeoScience also publishes:
Self-Guided Geological Field Trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan by
Bornhorst & Rose. Learn about the geology of the Keweenaw Peninsula using this self guided road tour. An introduction to the geology of 1.1 billion year old Keweenaw Peninsula is followed by detailed directions to the 60 described field sites. The route is shown on geologic maps. $30 + $4 S&H

The staff of thanks Larry Molloy for permission to use his pictures and text on various pages about mining in the Keweenaw Peninsula. We do not travel in the Keweenaw without our well worn copy of Copper Country Road Trips.


Books about the Upper Peninsula
Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula
Specialty Products of the Upper Peninsula
Shopping in the Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula Traveler
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