State geologist Douglass Houghton first arrived to this natural harbor along the Keweenaw's northern shore around 1837, and almost immediately discovered signs of copper along its rocky shore. Subsequent trips to the region would provide even more compelling evidence of the rich copper deposits buried within the peninsulas rugged interior - a fact that would be featured prominently in Houghton's report to the governor detailing the peninsula's resources. As word made its way out east, investors and prospectors began arriving at the Keweenaw to stake their claims. In response the US government quickly established a Mineral Land Agency at Copper Harbor, and started the process of selling off mineral leases in 1843. The Copper Rush was on, and with it the birth of the town of Copper Harbor.
Soon the town became home to several boarding houses and hotels, providing homes on the frontier for the hundreds of arriving prospectors and immigrants. Burgeoning mine companies chose the town to locate their company offices and warehouses. To insure security, the US Government established an army fort along nearby Lake Fanny Hooe and laid out a military road southward that connected it with another fort at Green Bay. To increase safety for arriving ships, the government also built the regions first lighthouse on a rocky point at the mouth of the harbor.
NOTES: Unfortunately, the early Keweenaw Copper rush was not nearly as successful as was hoped. As mine after mine closed down, prospectors turned southward in search of more profitable copper deposits. As they did, and mines such as Copper Falls and Cliff opened down south, the importance of Copper Harbor as a port town diminished substantially. Today, the town exists exclusively as a tourist destination, with most residents leaving during the harsh winter months.
DIRECTIONS: Follow US41 north out of Houghton for 41 miles until arriving at a blinking stop (cross-traffic does not stop). Turn right to head onto the village's main street.