Sketch of Cliff Mine, 1849    Michigan Tech Archives

Of course indigenous people mined copper on the Keweenaw and Isle Royale. The earliest of Michigan’s mechanized copper mines was the Cliff Mine, which got underway in a serious way in August 1845 when a vein on the greenstone cliff was followed into the cliff wall and it widened into a substantial copper mass.  By 1848 there was mining fever here and many of the 49ers who were in the California gold rush of 1949 learned a lot about mining here under the Cliff. Read more in History of the Cliff Mine by Sean Gohman or in Michigan Geological Survey Bulletin #1.

Greenstone Flow


C & H workings


Stamp Mill



The Cliff Mine is the first successful mine in the Michigan Copper District and dates from 1845. It remained highly successful, the largest copper mine in the US for more than a decade. Ruins of the early mining operations, the town of Clifton and two cemetaries are here to visit.

Copper crystals from the Cliff mine,

Largest crystal is 2 cm.

John T. Reeder Collection #1680.

John A. Jaszczak photo.

Analcime (1.5 cm) with

copper inclusions.

L. L. Hubbard Collection #1021.

Cliff Mine,

John A. Jaszczak photo.

Silver crystals with copper,

Cliff mine

ex L.L. Hubbard collection.

John A. Jaszczak photo.

AE Seaman Museum, Michigan Tech

Above the Cliff Mine, looking west

Jim Belote

Cliff Mine