Ghosts of Copper Country: Building remnants remain of copper-mining era towns
During the copper-mining era, many communities, small and large, were created to accommodate mine workers, some of which are still active, but some of them which can be considered ghost towns are listed here.
The community of Baltic came into existence after the creation in 1897 of the Baltic Mining Company located about 6 miles southwest of Houghton. In 1917, the company became part of the Copper Range Co., and in 1931, mining stopped. During 34 years, the company’s five shafts produced 276 million pounds of refined copper.
Bete Grise — the grey beast in French — is located off of U.S. 41 in Keweenaw County. This community also existed to house mine employees, but by 1940, there were only 10 residents. Today it is a resort area, but many original buildings still exist.
The former community of Central is partly preserved as a Keweenaw County Historic Society Museum Complex. Self-guided walking tours can be done using maps provided at the visitor center. At its height in 1887, the community had a population of 1,300, but by 1905, the number of residents was just 100. The Central church and some houses have been preserved and are open for visitation. Some houses are occupied, and the residents’ privacy should be respected. The Visitor Center is open early June to mid-October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The mine of the Copper Falls Company opened in 1845, but 1850, all the investors’ money was spent and the mine closed. However, the mine was purchased and reorganized in 1851. By 1853 the new mine had its own 24-head stamp mill along with over 25 dwellings, two boarding houses, office, sawmill, and fully outfitted shops. In 1874, a collapse killed seven miners, and in 1878, a fire at the stamp mill forced the mine to close for a year. It remained profitable until it closed in 1910.
Settled in 1846, Delaware had a population of 1,150, mostly miners. Evidence of mining is still visible in the area. The community received mail, had a court system and a shoemaker. By 1905, it was considered only a mining camp with only about 30 residents. However, a train still traveled between the community and Calumet. By 1915, the post office closed.
Settled in 1910, Freda was home to the Champion copper mine mill. It also became a resort destination. Freda had a population of 500. It was located on the Copper Range Railroad. The community had a church, stamp mill, barber, physician, saloon and hotel. In 1915, a Catholic church was added followed by a movie theatre in 1917. In 1971, the railroad stopped coming to Freda, and the mill stopped operation, which eventually turned the community into a ghost town.
Information for this article was provided by the Keweenaw Convention & Visitor’s Bureau website