A Brief History of Mining in the Upper Peninsula

  • 1844: Iron ore is discovered in the Upper Peninsula by William A. Burt, the United States deputy surveyor. (27)
  • 1845: The first major discovery of ore is made near Negaunee, Michigan. (28)
    • July 23: The Jackson Mining Company is formed.
    • The Jackson Mine is opened in Negaunee, Michigan.
  • 1849: Iron traces are found in the Menominee Iron Range.
    • April: The first blast furnace is built near the Jackson Mine. (29)
  • 1852: Congress authorizes the construction of a Canal on the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie. (30)
  • 1853: June 4, construction of the Soo Canal begins.
  • 1855: The Soo Canal is completed (Soo Locks) in the St. Mary’s Canal which allowed passage between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes (750,000 acre public land grant by the government). This allowed large ore ships to pass through, the first being the Brig Columbia carrying ore from the Marquette range. (30)
  • 1857: The Jackson Mine in Neguanee ships its first load of iron ore. (31)
  • Late 1850s: Construction of railways in the Upper Peninsula begin.
  • 1861: There are 3 mines open in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: The Jackson Mine (Negaunee), the Cleveland Mine (Ishpeming), and the Lake Superior Mine (Ishpeming). (32)
  • 1861-1865: The Civil War causes an increased demand for iron ore that can be made into Bessemer steel or used for cannons and ammunition.
  • 1864: There are 6 operational mines in the Upper Peninsula located in the Marquette Iron Range. (33)
  • 1880: The government passes a tariff on ore to keep the price of ore up. (34)
  • 1881: First interpeninsular railroad is completed.
  • 1884: Railroads reach the Gogebic Iron Range, and the Colby Mine sends out its first shipment of ore. (35)
  • 1891: Iron-Cliffs Mining Company and the Cleveland Mining Company join to make the Cleveland-Cliffs Mining Company. (36)