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Copper Harbor, Michigan is an unincorporated community in the northern part of the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which juts out into Lake Superior from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The community is bordered to the north by Lake Superior and to the south, in the eastern half, by Lake Fanny Hooe. The main settlement area is to the west of Lake Fanny Hooe. To the north and west is a large wooded area that includes the Trails End Campground. A narrow strip of land juts out into Lake Superior to the east toward Porters Island, which is part of the Copper Harbor census-designated area. From the main settlement area, US-41 leads east through Fort Wilkins State Park, which is an isthmus, with Lake Superior to the north and Lake Fanny Hooe to the south. East of the state park is another wooded area that includes Lily Lake and a portion of Mud Lake. Also known as Lighthouse Road, Woodland Road leads north, and then west onto a small peninsula, which is also part of the Copper Harbor census-designated area. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is at the tip of the point of land that hugs the harbor. Established in 1849, the original light is no longer operational. The light itself was removed from the lighthouse in 1933, and placed on an adjacent 62-foot skeleton tower. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1974 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

US-41 enters the south-central part of the village, where its main settlement area is, while M-26 forms a portion of the village's southern border in the north, leading east into Copper Harbor's downtown district, where it ends at its junction with US-41, while US-41 continues to the eastern part of the village, where it terminates.

Lake Fanny Hooe is a 227-acre lake that is mostly separated from Lake Superior by Fort Wilkins Historic State Park and joined to Lake Superior by the Garden Brook. Fort Wilkins was commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1844, largely to keep the peace between local miners and the local Ojibwas, some of whom opposed the Treaty of La Pointe that had ceded the area to the United States in 1842.

At one time, the fort included twenty-seven structures, several of which still survive, while others have been rebuilt. When war was declared with Mexico in 1846, the fort was left in the hands of a single caretaker, Sergeant William Wright. When he passed away in 1855, the fort was leased to Dr. John S. Livermore, who planned to turn it into a health resort, but he died in 1861 without opening the resort. After the Civil War, the U.S. Army reoccupied Fort Wilkins between 1867 and 1870, where it served mostly as a place for men to serve out the remainder of their enlistments after the war.

Abandoned in 1870, the fort became a state park in 1923 and is open to the public during the summer months, when it is staffed by costumed personnel who portray U.S. Army life during the fort's final summer as an active post.

Copper was first mined in the area as far back as 1200 BC, as evidenced by copper pits and thousands of crude hammering stones that were used to work the pits. Copper mined from Copper Harbor has been found in prehistoric sites throughout North and South America.

When European-Americans first came into the area, it was inhabited by the Ojibwe. However, in 1842, the Ojibwa were persuaded to cede claims to the Upper Peninsula to the U.S. government. Captain Walter Cunningham was appointed to act as a Special Agent to mining interests that were developing in the area. He established the Government House on Porter's Island. Beginning in 1843, thousands of people came to Copper Harbor, Ontonagon, and Eagle Harbor seeking copper. Boomtowns were founded wherever ships could find a safe harbor.

The early Copper Rush proved not to be entirely profitable, however. By 1846, only the Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company and the Lake Superior Mining Company were still in operation. Of twenty-four companies that were formed between 1844 and 1850, only six would pay dividends. Years later, the Central Mine, Cliff Mine, and others were opened and became successful. In 1855, the Soo Locks opened, providing immigrant labor and more affordable shipping connections. Railroads were soon built to serve the entire area, and the Keweenaw Peninsula became a major mining and industrial center. Settlers came to work the mines, clear land, establish buildings, and build farms. By 1870, when the mines were no longer profitable, the companies and their employees left, leaving behind the ruins of mines, ghost towns, and a lot of copper remaining.

Daniel D. Brockway built the first home in Copper Harbor in 1846, later expanding it into a hotel known as the Brockway House. On May 4, 1860, a post office was established, with Mr. Brockway as postmaster.

The focus of this guide is on the community known as Copper Harbor, Michigan.


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