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Algonquin Historic
Commission

Great Copper Rush in Upper Michigan
1842

Dr. Hussey made difficult trip thru St. Mary’s Falls and headed for Sault Ste. Marie. There he waited three weeks for schooner ALGONQUIN, which was the only craft then plying on Lake Superior larger than a canoe. The schooner John Jacob Astor was about the same size, had been running in Astor’s fur trade along the northern western shore but was wrecked a short time before, leaving the ALGONQUIN only vessel on the Lake Superior. Dr. Hussey landed at Copper Harbor, on Keweenaw point. In this primitive wilderness he constructed first copper smelting and copper mine. Except for Indians, there were a fewmining explorers or workers and squad of soldiers sent out for their protection by Secretary of War. Soldiers occupied Fort Walkins, located short distance east of Copper Harbor. The operation grew to employ 70 miners, three shafts which harvested 40 tons of copper which neted company $4,500.

Father Baraga signed note at close of a letter, “Received by mail on board the Schooner ALGONQUIN, Capt. Smithwick, on the 18th of May 1844. Letter was mailed April 3, 1844 from Acting Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Detroit.11 Father Baraga was only Catholic priest in upper Michigan who founded the L’anse Indian mission in Keweenaw Peninsula.

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Algonquin Historic Commission and its creator Donald V. Purn. Pages may be copied
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1835 - 1838
Pre Schooner
Year

1839 - 1841
Algonquin
Built

1842 - 1844
Great Copper
Rush

1845 - 1852
King of
the Lake

1853 - 1856
End of
an Era

1857 - Now
Final
Resting Place

CopperHarborDraw1853

Copper Harbor 1853
Harper's new Monthly Magazine

The ALGONQUIN on May 24, 1842 was the first American vessel, if not the first decked vessel in Copper Harbor. Owned by “Cleveland Northern Lake Company” and skippered by James Smithwick. The schooner anchored in the harbor opposite of the Mineral Land Agency. On board was Daniel Buchnell, Esq. who was the Indian sub-agent from La Pointe; Mr. Asa Fowls who was miner just out of employment along with wife and her sister, Miss Stella Johnson of Sault Ste. Marie; Cyrus Mendenhall; Simon Sayer and Quatosh(who was listed as a half-breed Chippewa Indian; including his wife. The party came to explore the area and evaluate the area for fishing. The schooner arrived at Copper Bay after coming from Isle Royale carrying a boat load of fish.

In the spring of 1843 , the schooner Algonquin became the first boat goin north from the Sault Ste. Marie. Cracking through thin shell of ice that still lay along the shores of Lake Superior. The schooner landed in Copper Harbornear the rocky tip of the Keweenaw. The boat put ashore about twenty miners armed with picks and shovels whose interest was only copper. The Astor followed in few days bring salted pork and dryed beans

The ALGONQUIN again returned with the first mineral seeking fortune hunters in May 1943. The party consised of Colonel White of Kentucky, Captain Sage of Mineral Point, two gentlemen with Mr. Mc Causlin of Wisconsin who was going to the Ontonagon River.

Again on June 18, 1843 the schooner came to the Copper Harbor with Captain Walter Cunningham, the Mineral Agent just appointed by the War Department, together with Messra. Bernard and Mendelbaum of St. Louis, Mr. Raymond of New York; Mr. Carns of Georgia, Mr. E. Taylor of Agate Harbor area, and Mr. J. Aldred of Detroit and a large number of gentlemen and miners. Party came to explore the country for its mineral resources.

Ontonagon Boulder was thought to be sacred gift from the Gods to the Chippewa tribe that lived on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Many explorers and pioneers prior to 1840 told a massive pure copper boulder in a river bed in hills. Julius Eldred heard the story and decided to purchase the rights to the boulder and bring it to the East where he could profit from it by displaying boulder.

CopperHarbor

Great Copper Boulder of Ontonagon

CuBoulder
RiverBoulder

Starting on July 4, 1842, Julius Eldred pulled the copper boulder onto a sled which was especially built for it. Moving the boulder took team of 21 men to slide the boulder up 50 foot bank using a specially built road on July 11th. Using wooden rails, they laid down the rails in front of the sled and removed the rails at the rear of the sled as boulder progressed to the Ontonagon River which was 5 miles overland. When the river was approached, the Great Boulder was placed into the Mackinaw boat. River bank was cut so the nose of the boat could be place into the bank and tracks laid into the Mackinaw boat. Boulder finally reached mouth of the Ontonagon River on August 15th and waited for schooner ALGONQUIN to arrive. The boulder was lifted from Mackinaw boat onto the ALGONQUIN, September 12, 1943. After the crew hoisted the boulder into the ALGONQUIN’S hold, the schooner headed to Sault Ste. Marie.

The Ontonagon Boulder
Copy from Library of Congress

The celebrated rock of pure copper (Ontonagon Copper Bolder) on Lake Superior, and which caused so much speculation among scientists, arrived at Buffalo, in October, 1843, on board the revenue cutter Erie,. It was brought from the shore of Lake Superior through the enterprise of Julius Eldred, of Detroit, to be place in National Institute at Washington. Copper Boulder was first shipped onboard the schooner ALGONQUIN from the Ontonagon River and transported over 300 miles to the head of the falls of Sault Ste. Marie. Boulder was then transferred to a Mackinac boat, and after passing through the canal around the rapids, it was loaded onto the schooner William Brewster for Detroit, where it arrived October 11th. At Detroit it was placed on board a revenue cutter and taken to Buffalo as above stated. Thence the copper mass was transferred onto cars to its final destination. It was pure native copper without alloy. The weight of the rock was never definitely ascertained, but was estimated at 3,700 pounds. Its dimension were 3 feet 4 inches broad by 3 feet 8 inches long. Boulder was the largest specimen of native copper in the world. It is now housed at the Natural History building of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

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Great Ontonagon Boulder

The Algonquin left La Pointe on October 10th for Sault St. Marie with Missionary Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh who was a young Indian Chief of the Ojibway Nation. He was headed to Toronto to see his family according to his diary entry.

Note: Schooner ALGONQUIN carried supplies to build Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor and the iron work for Marquette’s first ore dock 2 located 130 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie and 70 miles from Copper Harbor.

1835 - 1838
Pre Schooner
Year

1839 - 1841
Algonquin
Built

1842 - 1844
Great Copper
Rush

1845 - 1852
King of
the Lake

1853 - 1856
End of
an Era

1857 - Now
Final
Resting Place

Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company was organized by John Hays and Dr. Curtiss Hussey during the May of 1844. A geologist was sent by the company along with a party of miners on the ALGONQUIN to start mining operations at Copper Harbor the following autumn. During their fourth try, they found copper 100 yards from Fort Wilkins.

Father Baraga signed note at close of a letter, “Received by mail on board the Schooner ALGONQUIN, Capt. Smithwick, on the 18th of May 1844. Letter was mailed April 3, 1844 from Acting Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Detroit. Father Baraga was only Catholic priest in upper Michigan who founded the L’anse Indian mission in Keweenaw Peninsula.

Schooner ALGONQUIN carried supplies to build Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor and the iron work for Marquette’s first ore dock located 130 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie and 70 miles from Copper Harbor.

Schooner ALGONQUIN carried many of the earliest settlers to the mining communities of Isle Royale and south shore of Lake Superior.

Hussey
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