|| ||On September 19, 1844, William Burt's survey team noticed erratic fluctuations in the
needle of their magnetic compass near Teal Lake. The team found many specimens of magnetic
ore at the site (near today's city of Negaunee) and completed their survey using Burt's
In 1845 Chippewa chief Marji-Gesick (photo) guided Philo
M. Everett and others of the Jackson Mining Company to this site of rich ore deposits. The
companyoriginally founded for copper miningset out in 1846 to mine and forge iron
instead. It established a forge along the Carp River in Negaunee in 1848. Today this is
the site of the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.
Michigan's Iron Ranges
companies joined the Jackson Mining Company on the Marquette Range before 1860. The
Marquette Iron Company, the Cleveland Iron Company, the Lake Superior Iron Company and the
renamed Jackson Iron Company all struggled for survival. Inadequate capital, poor
transportation, the high cost of materials and supplies and the failure of early forges
made for slow progress in the infant industry. Life was hard for miners, too, with long
hours and manual labor such as drilling (shown in this photograph from the gallery), rock
breaking and rock hauling.
New technologysuch as
dynamite and power drillsand the opening of the two more iron ranges spurred production.
Mines such as the Champion, the Michigammee and the Republic joined the Jackson on the
Marquette Range, the only range still producing ore. The Menominee Range opened in
the 1870s, reached peak production in 1920 and ceased production in 1978. Important mines
on the Menominee Range included the Vulcan, Chapin, Cyclops, Breen,
Garfield and Caspian.
Production on the Gogebic Range began at the Colby Mine in 1883, and by 1887
the Gogebic boasted 24 mines. Significant Gogebic mines included the Wakefield, Ironton,
Jackpot and Yale, the Norrie-Aurora-Pabst complex and the Anvil-Palms-Keweenaw group.
The Jackson Mine and other
early mines began as surface"open pit"mines. By the late 1870s, they had
exhausted the surface deposits and Michigan iron mining went underground. (Mining on the
other ranges was underground from the start.) Mining became more expensive as additional
equipment was needed to sink shafts, transport men and ore, and dewater the mines.
Michigan mines produced 80% of the nation's iron ore. There were three powerful companies.
The Cleveland and Iron Cliffs companies merged to form Cleveland-Cliffs in 1891, and added
the Jackson Iron Company in 1905. Pickands, Mather, which was formed in 1883, became the
nation's second largest producer of iron ore. In 1885, Marcus Hanna and other investors
formed the M. A. Hanna Company, which became the most important firm on the
Menominee Range. These companies owned extensive tracts of mineral and timberlands in the
Upper Peninsula, as well as short-line railroads, loading docks and fleets of ore
Iron Industry Problems
Unlike miners in the western United States, Michigan iron miners were
not organized into unions. As they looked for better wages, shorter hours, improved
safety, and a way to guarantee jobs threatened by technological change, they tried to
organize. In 1895, workers in Ishpeming formed an independent local union, the Miners of
Marquette County. They staged a general walkout in the Marquette region that summer after
management dismissed their requests for wage increases. The companies refused to recognize
the union, although they offered wage concessions. The governor called up the National
Guard for fear of violence against strikebreakers brought in by management. By fall the
strike was over. The union, having failed to win recognition from the companies, soon
Michigan lost its lead in iron production Minnesota in 1900, even
though output was still increasing. Minnesota's Mesabi Range, whose rich surface deposits
were easily open-pit mined, overwhelmed the older, deep mines in Michigan. Yet, Michigan
remained a significant iron producer. The mines increased production during both world
wars. During World War II, mining companies explored new methods of processing large
reserves of low grade ore. These deposits, mined from open pits and then processed to
concentrate their ore content, constitute Michigan's ore production today.