The word of the week this week is copper. Copper is a substance that has a big role in the history of Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula. Wikipedia’s entry for copper tells you what you need to know about this vital mineral. Michigan was a major producer of native copper (copper found in a chemically uncombined state) and you can get great photos of native copper from Da Yoopers guide to Copper.
The Michigan Historical Museum says that as early as 5,000 B.C., Native Americans used Michigan copper from Isle Royale and in the Upper Peninsula regions of Michigan that we know as Keweenaw, Houghton and Ontonagon counties. You can see it in the names of places like Copper Harbor and “Coppertown” aka Calumet and in the vast mines like Delaware Mine and the Adventure Mine from which thousands of tons of copper were pulled. Copper was at the heart of one of Michigan’s most tumultuous labor conflicts, the Michigan Copper Strike of 1913 (see the video below).
You can explore the history of copper today through the Keweenaw National Historic Park, which includes a wealth of heritage sites, through some books about copper mining in Keweenaw & Isle Royale and in the forthcoming 1913 Massacre.
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