Located in Greenland, Michigan about half an hour from Porcupine Mountains is the Adventure Mining Company. Visiting Adventure Mine is, well, an adventure! With no electric lights or modern conveniences, a tour through the mine is like stepping back in time and experiencing what it was like to work as a copper miner in the 19th century.
The Western upper peninsula is known as Copper Country because from the mid-1840s through the 1960s, the area was the world’s largest copper producer. The copper found in this region is known as “native copper” because it is found in a metal form where it is found as copper oxide or sulfide in other copper mining regions and has to be chemically separated to be used.
Our tour guide pointed out how to spot the copper in the rock walls and demonstrated how 19th-century miners would have excised it from the surrounding rock. Removing the copper from the rock was a time-consuming process and with copper being less valuable than gold, most mines in the copper country actually operated at a loss. The metal is right there and on this tour, we were able to touch it, but there are no operating copper mines left in the area. The chemical means of mining that I mentioned earlier are much cheaper.
I should mention that the symbols painted on the wall of the mine on the top photo are not historic or important in any way. At one time, the mine was rented out to film a movie and that was added by the film crew. During our tour, our guide pointed out many relics that were left behind from the film. I don’t remember what the movie is called, but it is for sale in the gift shop, although our guide described it as terrible.
Interestingly, even when it was an operating copper mine, the mine we visited was known as Adventure Mine. Seems like a strange name for a mine, but it is a great name for what it is now. Adventure Mine offers a tour known as the miner’s tour that allows daring guests to rappel down a mine shaft and cross a swinging rope bridge. Chris really wanted to do this tour, but with only a few days in the Porkies, we didn’t have the three hours to spare. Instead, we did the hour and a half long Prospector’s tour. If you are in the Ontonogan area, I highly recommend you check it out and if you’re up for it, do the Miner’s Tour!
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