Thousands of years ago, Native Americans worked copper in the area around what is now Lake Superior. The remains of copper pits, where the mineral was alternately worked with fire and water, still remain. Scientists estimate that over 1.4 billion pounds of copper were mined from these massive copper pits. In more recent times, a massive rush of copper miners from across the United States descended on Michigan in 1843. Today, natural copper nuggets can still be found around Copper Harbor on Lake Superior.
Things You'll Need
- Sluice box
- Gold pan
- Metal detector
Visit the Caladonia Mine located in the Porcupine Mountains near Ontonagon to dig through ore dumps for copper nuggets. The mine dumps are from the original mining operations on the property. Instructions, specimen identification and supplies are available.
Red Metal Minerals
202 Ontonagon St.
Ontonagon, MI 49953
Prospect for native copper on public lands in Copper County. Copper is found almost exclusively in Copper County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Pan the gravel from stream beds and creek banks. In designated areas, a sluice box can be used to separate copper nuggets from other river gravels.
Locate old ore dumps, and work the tail pilings with a metal detector. Many sizable nuggets were lost because of old production methods, and they can be found in the ore dumps of century-old mining operations. Some of the richest copper mines in the world were located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, about 100 miles long and 10 miles wide, on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Look for copper nuggets with silver inclusions. Michigan locals call these rare nuggets "half breeds." All Michigan native or mass copper is pure metal and easily detected by a metal detector.
- Photo Credit Rustic copper pot, isolated on white image by Accent from Fotolia.com michigan map image by Vladislav Gajic from Fotolia.com
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