Mining in Northern Wisconsin. Native Americans mined copper on the shores of Lake Superior in prehistoric times. Between 4,000 and 1,200 B.C., copper jewelry and implements from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan were part of a trade network that stretched from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf Coast, giving rise to the name "Old Copper Culture."
Mining has always been an important part of the Wisconsin way of life. From the native peoples of the Lake Superior copper culture to the recent successful reclamation of the Flambeau copper and gold mine, extraction of marketable minerals has always been a valued industry.
The world's 20 largest copper mines produce nearly 9 million metric tons of the precious metal a year, about 40 percent of the world's total copper mine capacity. Chile and Peru, alone, account for about half of the copper mines on this list, but the U.S. does make the cut, with two mines among the top 20.
The 70 million ton-ore body, reportedly the largest in northern Wisconsin, contains copper and zinc. Exxon, which discovered the deposit in 1976, has been actively looking for partners. "In most states [the Crandon deposit] would be gone already," Renke says.
The Menomonie Indians of northern Wisconsin have a legend that speaks about the mines. They describe the mines being worked by “light skinned men”. If that were not enough, in 1922 William A. Ferguson discovered a harbor on the north coast of Isle Royale. This ancient harbor was 500 meters long and would have been perfect for the loading and unloading of multiple ships at one time. It is ...