In the early 1840s, State Geologist Douglass Houghton’s studies in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula confirmed the copper riches of the region.
Prospectors and adventurers, many knowing little of the geology, topography or climate of the region flocked to the Copper Country.
But the lack of transportation facilities and the ruggedness of the country caused the boom to fade almost as soon as it arose.
In the winter of 1848, Samuel O. Knapp, one of these early prospectors investigated suspicious depressions beneath the snow and discovered indisputable evidence of ancient mining around a 6-ton mass of pure copper supported on rotting wooden beams.
This discovery at what would later become known as the Minesota Mine led to recovery of native copper deposits so rich that the Minesota became known as “the richest mine ever opened” in the western Lake Superior region.
Knapp’s canny observations as to the true nature of the artificial depressions led others to look for them also. In succeeding years, the “ancient diggings” became surefire indications of significant copper deposits below and the traces of prehistoric activities thousands of years old saved a struggling industry and provided the inspiration for the injection of millions of dollars eastern capital.
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