Get Under The Upper Peninsula
One of the most unique features of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – a place full of unique features – is the old Delaware Copper Mine. The mine sits on the northern end of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan’s northernmost point, 12 miles from Copper Harbor, and is a sterling example of 19th century mining.
The Delaware Mine operated from 1847 to 1887 and was considered a Cornish mine; the vast majority of the miners came from Cornwall, England. In fact, your visit to the Upper Peninsula isn’t complete until you’ve visited a local eatery and gotten yourself a handmade Cornish pasty, a kind of meat turnover baked in a pastry shell. Pasties are one of the principal culinary traditions that define the Upper Peninsula. Local historians trace the introduction of the Cornish pasty in the Upper Peninsula to these Cornish miners.
The Delaware Mine is open daily for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from mid-May to mid-October. The tour takes you deep into the mine where you can see how copper was extracted from the earth before power equipment was invented. It also gives you a sense of how hard these early settlers had to work to earn a living.
The self-guided tour is marked by a number of interpretive signs and features, giving visitors a keen sense of just how vast the mining operation was and risky it could be.
During its 40 years of operation, the mine produced 8 million pounds of copper, a vast amount but never enough for the mine to be completely profitable. When it opened in 1847, no one had yet heard of the California Gold Rush and immigrants flocked to the mines in northern Michigan, where they worked hard to earn their fortunes and secure for themselves a better future.
Now you can eat and drink like a miner
Once you’re done with the tour of the mine, drive the 12 miles north to Copper Harbor and visit Brickside Brewery, the locally celebrated brew pub that features a dozen handcrafted beers and ales. Michigan law keeps them from serving food but there are a handful of restaurants nearby so you can grab a pasty and head over to Brickside to wash it down with a stout pint.