It was along the rocky Superior shore at Copper Harbor that large outcroppings of copper would catch the interest of Michigan's first state geologist - Douglass Houghton. It was also there that the great Keweenaw copper rush would begin in earnest around 1844. The first shafts ever sunk along the peninsula would be along Hay's Point - the craggy finger of land jutting out along the harbor's entrance. Soon other attempts followed, scattered about in the thick forests and craggy hills surrounding the harbor. In response, the harbor became a bustling commercial port and the center of mining activity in the peninsula - until the surrounding hills quickly proved unprofitable. The search for copper pushed southward, and with it the commerce and activity that Copper Harbor once knew.
The migrating copper rush's first stop was along the towering rocky precipices that made up the peninsula's Cliff Range. It was along these cliffs that the region's first profits were made - more than five years after the copper rush first began. This impressive feet was courtesy of the Cliff Mine, and was made possible by a generous deposit of mass copper within the Cliff's themselves. Soon after success struck again, with yet another discovery of mass copper along the cliffs several miles to the north - at the Central Mine. With the region's first profits came a renewed optimism and copper fever. Several more mines were established nearby, and prospectors turned southward in search of the copper riches they now knew were there for the taking.
As mines pushed southward, new ports had to be established to deliver the men and supplies these fledging enterprises required. The towns of Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Lac La Belle were all born from this need, serving the new crop of mines that had opened up along the peninsula's rocky spine. Unlike Copper Harbor, these new ports were allowed to grow and mature thanks to the success of the Central and Cliff mines which supported them. However, even a successful mine will run out of copper at some point, and both the Central and Cliff were exhausted by the turn of the century. By then the copper empire had already moved south yet again, and these port towns were finally abandoned as well.