The Copper Empire the Keweenaw cradled for over a century was conceived and nurtured almost exclusively by eastern investors, specifically Boston financiers. In the Keweenaw's infancy interest in the region was concentrated to just a dozen or so key players, each of which had stakes in numerous mine companies simultaneously. This allowed only a handful of men to amass a large amount of power and influence over the region - none more so then Horatio Bigelow and Joseph Clark.
The Clark-Bigelow Syndicate had stakes in over a dozen Lake Superior mines including the highly profitable Tamarack and Osceola properties. In 1889 they expanded their interests to include copper smelting and manufacturing enterprises, purchasing a large tract of land on Dollar Bay for construction of a Smelter and Copper Wire Mill. In the process the nearby town of Clark was platted to house the mills' workers, later to become Dollar Bay.
Over the next few decades the Dollar Bay Smelter became one of the largest of its type found along the peninsula, second only to C&H's Hubbell facility. Known as the Lake Superior Smelting Company, this massive mill processed copper from numerous mines across the peninsula including the Tamarack and Osceola Mines. Soon the smelter's success attracted additional companies to the Dollar Bay region. These new industries included a Copper Wire Mill, Saw Mill, explosives plant, and later a flooring mill and cheese factory. By the turn of the century Dollar Bay had matured into a port and industrial center of significant stature to rival even nearby Houghton.
NOTES: The Dollar Bay mills operated up until 1923, when C&H bought out the Clark-Begelow interests and closed the Smelter. With the arrival of the Depression both the Wire Mill and Saw Mill closed as well, which resulted in a significant reduction of Dollar Bay's population and the closing of several downtown businesses. Today the village is populated chiefly by Horner Flooring employees along with commuters from Michigan Tech.
DIRECTIONS: Follow M26 north out of Houghton (a right turn after the bridge) for about 3.5 miles until arriving to 4th Street. Turn right onto 4th Street to enter Dollar Bay's downtown.