Ancient copper mines are discovered in 1848
Who First Mined Copper on Lake Superior?
The author of this article reviews the discovery in 1848 of remains of sophisticated copper mines along the Lake Superior shore. He describes the archaeological evidence in some detail and speculates, as did the "Vanished Race" school of mound investigators, that the ancestors of modern Indians could not have done the work. We now know, however, that Native Americans mined and worked copper in Wisconsin as early as 3000BC, and that a succession of French miners attempted to follow in their footsteps in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This article is useful both for summarizing the terrain just before industrial operations forever altered the region, as well as for revealing the racist assumptions that white observers often brought to their experience of 19th-century Wisconsin.