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Three Modern Eras

Mining frontiers in the United States have followed a common pattern. Historically, they have been important in that they often brought the first permanent settler population to isolated or uninviting areas. They have typically begun by a discovery or rumors of precious metal. Mining of a simple type led to the establishment of settlements, roads, and other facilities. Dwindling deposits often caused an equally rapid decline in population, with perhaps a few of the better-financed companies staying on. As time went on a very different type of mining would develop based on the use of heavy machinery and the advice of trained mining engineers and geologists. Eventually, in most areas, the deposits played out, and tourism or ranching replaced the mining.

Isle Royale followed this pattern in many ways. There was an early boom-and-bust period, lasting from 1843 to 1855; a lull, and then a revival of mining activity from 1873 to 1881; again a decline, and then a final flurry of mining from 1889 to 1893, ending with a shift to tourism and commercial fishing.


Historic Mine Sites


Last updated: May 10, 2021

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