For the early copper mines of the Keweenaw, the difference between success and failure was often only a matter of location. While clues on the surface could indicate a presence of copper, they could not determine its richness. Even with modern science behind them, mine companies could do little more then bet big on their plot of land dealing them a winning hand. This was especially true on the northern end of the peninsula, where most copper was trapped in very rich but highly localized and finite fissure deposits. If signs of copper were discovered, companies quickly bought up land and begin sinking shafts. Hit a fissure and the company earned a dot on the map; miss and succumb to history. Luckily for the Central Mine, it was a hit.
It was 1854 that the Central Mining Company bet big and sunk its first shaft in an ancient Indian mining pit below the Greenstone Bluff. The company hit it big time, uncovering over 40 tons of copper in the first forty feet of depth. Within a year the shaft had produced over 83,000 pounds of copper and was the only Copper Country mine ever to make a profit in its first year. For the next forty years the mine managed to produce a staggering amount of copper, enough to pay over $2 million in dividends to its investors. The mines obscene success was shared by the town which supported it. The little mining camp of Central quickly blossomed to a community of over 1300 people, sprawling across the de-forested hillside at the bluff's base.
NOTES: The Central Mine ended as quickly as it had begun, with the copper simply stopping at the 30th level. The town was abandoned almost immediately, with only a few scattered residents sticking around. Save a few scattered summer cabins, the community is now largely a ghost town. The Keweenaw Historical Society now owns much of the old town site and has rehabilitated several buildings for historical interest.
DIRECTIONS: Follow US41 north out of Houghton for 28 miles until arriving at Gratiot Lake Road on the right. The road to Central will be just before this road - on the left. Follow this road (Central Road) up into the old mine location.