Lac La Belle

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As mine companies made their way deeper into the Keweenaw interior they found themselves separated from Copper Harbor by a series of rugged ridge-lines, making transportation of their copper ore and supplies to the town difficult if not impossible. The most remote mines were those owned by the Northwest Mining Company, who remedied the transportation situation by building its own port on a nearby lake known as Lac La Belle. The lake was connected to Lake Superior by a wide navigable river, and made the perfect place to built both a smelter and stamp mill. The town of Lac La Belle was born.

Over the years the Northwest changed names several times, becoming the Delaware and Medore mines along the way. As mining was started and then stopped over again, Lac La Belle suffered through alternating periods of expansion and abandonment. In the 1860's yet another attempt was made on the Northwest properties, this time preceded by a generous investment in infrastructure including the regions first steam powered stamp mill. In 1867 the river out to Lake Superior was also improved, with the construction of a man-made channel cut straight through the river sloughs out to the lake. But as happened many times before, the new mine could not produce enough copper to make a sustainable profit, The mine, mill, and smelter closed for good just a few years after the completion of the canal.

NOTES: Today the town is simply a resort community, with only faint ruins and some stamp sand beaches being the only reminders of its more industrious past. Summer homes and cabins now line the lake's shore, which has become one of the premiere fishing spots in the Keweenaw.



DIRECTIONS: Follow US41 north out of Houghton 34 miles until arriving at Lac La Belle Road on the right (marked by a large amount of rustic looking signs). Turn right down this road and continue along it for another 4 miles. After dropping down a steep hill, the village will be straight ahead.