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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Early Copper History

From: Superior Sunday Leader - March 19, 1899
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

James Bardon Tells of Some Work Done in Copper Exploration in Early Days
Rich Specimens Were Taken Out - Advises Owners to Do Exploration Work

Probably no man in the city has a wider acquaintance with the land of this county, than James Bardon of the East End. Mr. Bardon is one of the city's oldest settlers, and during his residence here has done a deal of exploring throughout the county and is well qualified to speak on matters relating to the copper deposits. In speaking of the copper mines and their development yesterday Mr. Bardon told of the earlier advice as to the future work.

The following is what he said"

I believe that copper in large paying quantities will yet be found in Douglas County, east and west of Superior. From the first advent of the white man in this country copper has been found in several places in the range of hills lying south of Lake Superior, locally known as the 'South Range.' The considerable exploration and mining at Copper Creek and Black River Falls and near the Amnicon and Brule Rivers by the American Fur Company in the forties and by the Milwaukee, Boston and Superior capitalists in the fifties and sixties, show a universal faith in the universal worth of our country.  In all the old mines the specimens contained much copper. Rock that thirty or forty years ago was pronounce non-paying, would today be called rich, owing to the improved methods of mining and the increased price of copper. I am glad to see enterprising men in our midst opening up the old mines, the Percival, the Northern Wisconsin, the Fond du Lac, The Copper Creek, The Black River Falls, the Culligan and other early mines as well as several new ones.

Many were the stories told in the early day of rich 'finds' on the South Range. George R. Stuntz and William C. Howenstein found at Copper Creek in 1863 found a chunk of solid copper weighting 70 pounds, and as much as a barrel of specimens of solid copper weighting one to twenty pounds.  A blast put in near Black River Falls in 1864, at the insistence of Professor Hauchett, State Geologist of Minnesota, threw out several hundred pounds of rock thickly filled with rich nodules of copper, pieces of the metal weighing from half an ounce to two or three ounces.

Antoine Ambulh, who pre-empted the land on which is now the Starkweather Mine, brought word to town before is sudden and untimely death, that he had found on his land a solid mass of native copper, which he had covered up so that no one has yet found it, but it is still there, somewhere no doubt.

Mr. August Zachau of this city, who came here in 1853, says that on his land on the range, near Bardon Avenue in found in 1854 stone hammers of the kind used by the antecedents in copper mining. It is a well-known fact that these hammers when found on the Keweenaw Point invariably have indicated the presence of good bodies of copper. Such hammers were found near the Calumet &Hecla and others of the rich mines of today.

The opening of copper mines convenient to Superior would be of incalculable benefit to this city, but we are not likely to find mines by walking up and down Tower Avenue and West Fifth Street and talking about them. We must go out on the hills and look for the metal. As soon as the snow goes off let parties of two to six thoroughly explore the country along the ranges from the Minnesota line on the west to Iron River on the east, by travelling up and down the ravines and over the bluffs wherever the rock is exposed, armed with pick, ax and shovel digging into the earth uncovering the rocks, and breaking off samples here and there. These parties should camp out in tents or make their headquarters with settlers, or in abandoned lumber camps. Let men go to work with much zeal and earnestness, as they would display if they went to Colorado or the Klondike for a like purpose.

The camp life and the employment will be found interesting and agreeable, and at the same time may prove a source of great profit. The expense will be but little, the work of exploring is not laborious, and the participants will feel amply repaid for the recreation, if nothing more comes of their explorations. Most of the lands on the range can be bought at low figures, and if copper is found on any tract then will be the time to acquire the title. Those who already own lands on the range should lose not a moment in thoroughly examining them. An owner will feel warranted in doing more than merely exploring; he may dig trenches to uncover the rocks, put in blasts and do much of the work necessary preliminary to opening a mine. It may be, and in fact it is not unlikely, that a source of great wealth exists at our very doors. Let us without delay, do what we can to discover and develop it.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

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