The Forest Reclaiming an Old Copper Mine

One last post from my camping trip in the Porcupine Mountains last weekend. Next week I’ll be back to regular natural history, and the week after that I’ll be in Arizona for the holiday.

From before the Civil War into the early twentieth century, the Porkies were mined extensively for copper.Today, except for the occasional fence blocking off an old mine shaft entrance, you’d hardly know it; the forest itself is still pristine, with some of the most extensive old-growth stands in this part of the country. But when we were on our way to our campsite, we passed a sign for the Union Mine interpretive trail, and we decided to check it out. The woods have almost completely reclaimed this old, old mine, which dates back to the 1840s.

At the trail head. That’s me on the right.
This notch in the rocky stream bed is where a water wheel once stood to power the mining activities.
This chunk of foundation is all that’s left of the stamp mill that was built to process the ore.
The remains of the Nonesuch Road, which was the only route in and out of the area until the 1930s.
One of the old mine shafts.

It’s fascinating to me how the land can just swallow up what people have built once they’re gone. Have a good weekend, folks.

2 replies on “The Forest Reclaiming an Old Copper Mine”

Very cool. I deal with acid mine drainage in a watershed context in my job, so I’ve learned a lot about old mining sites. Despite the damage old mines can cause, there’s a unique beauty and history shown when natural areas reclaim the mines. It’s also a great way to get people interested in both natural history and their local history when they stumble across these sites.

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