Collecting Copper in Michigan’s Copper Country

Field Trip: Copper Country Collecting in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula

By Jeremy Zolan

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Supplies Needed:
Safety Goggles
Water
Sunscreen
Insect Repellant
Crack Hammer
Chisel
Shovel
Wrapping Paper for Specimens
Bucket
Sledgehammer (optional)
Prybar (optional)
Metal Detector (optional)

Description:

The Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan has been nationally famous for over 100 years for its history of highly productive copper mining. The local basalt is criss-crossed with many thick veins of native copper that made up the main ore of many of the mines. Solid natural masses of copper weighing hundreds of pounds were found with relative frequency at the mines. Though these pieces certainly were the most valuable ore, the best specimens from the area are clusters of well formed copper crystals. Other metallic minerals can be found with the native copper such as silver, domeykite, mohawkite, and chalcocite. Many other interesting minerals like datolite, analcime, prehnite, agate, and thomsonite are also abundant in the Keweenaw Peninsula. While all the mines of the region are closed to copper production, many are maintained as museums and fee dig sites. There are also many abandoned mines in the area that can provide good digging in the dumps but be sure to acquire permission from landowners before visiting any location on private land.

Localities:

Central Mine:
US 41
Central, MI 49950

central_mine_Michigan
Photo by Dave Maietta

Map:

The large tailings piles of the Central Mine are visible from US 41 in Central, Michigan. Many collectors have had good luck recently working this location. Occasionally, contractors remove large quantities of tailings for construction purposes and this exposes fresh material. In addition to the standard copper specimens, copper included calcite and prehnite can be found here. Silver has also been found with copper here but it is rare. A metal detector is very helpful for sorting trough dump piles like those found at the Central Mine.

central_mine_calcite
Caption: Calcite with copper inclusions. Central Mine, Central, MI 4.9 cm x 4.6 cm x 4 cm Ex. Rukin Jelks Rob Lavinsky Photo

Caption: Unusually large copper crystal. Central Mine, Central, MI. George Vaux collection at Bryn Mawr College. Scale bar is 1” long with rule at 1cm. Rock Currier Photo.central_mine_copper

Caledonia Mine:
Website: http://www.caledoniamine.com/
906-370-1131
202 Ontonagon St,
Ontonagon
Michigan 49953

The Caledonia Mine is a fee dig site that requires an advance reservation. When digging at this site, collectors are given a large pile of stockpiled copper ore and tools to go through it. Weekly collecting events on Thursdays and Saturdays are also held from the first Thursday in June to the last Saturday in August on the ore pile. Advance reservations are needed for these too. The workings of the Caledonia Mine are impressively preserved and tours are offered too. The mine tours aren’t necessarily just geared for casual guests. Many kinds of tours are offered, some with a very in depth historical or scientific focus. It is best to check the museum calendar to see if any events are happening during the time of your visit.

caledona_copper
Caption: Representative specimen of native copper from the Caledonia Mine’s recent workings. 5.6cm wide. Rob Lavinsky Photo

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
Website: http://www.museum.mtu.edu/
Michigan Technological University
1404 E. Sharon Avenue
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295
E-mail: tjb@mtu.edu
Telephone: (906) 487-2572

Michigan Tech’s A.E. Seaman Mineral museum is among the finest mineralogical museums in the world. Its laboratories are also critical in performing much of the cutting edge mineral research currently being performed. During the period of most intense copper mining in Michigan, many specimens of local minerals were donated to the museum. Their collection of Michigan minerals is the finest in the world and there is a strong local emphasis on their displays.

Check out our custom search and view all the minerals from Michigan for sale on eBay. Not only will you see lots of neat stuff for sale, you’ll also get an idea of what localities are producing in the region.

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Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay 2012

eBay is a fantastic place to find everything for sale. While there are plenty of dyed, glued, misidentified and various other hoaxes online, there are also some fantastic dealers who are honest, well educated and provide amazing service. As per customer satisfaction results gathered by The-Vug.com, we present to you the Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012!

Top 10 Rock and Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012

#10 – Heliodor

Three generations of the mineral dealers, Star and Elena Van Scriver have a wide variety of minerals available. Specializing in Russian minerals and Moroccan minerals, this store has over 4,000 items to chose from, mostly as store items with buy it now pricing. You can view their store by clicking this link.

Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor
Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor



#9 – Benson’s Collectibles

Alan Benson has been selling minerals on eBay for several years, helping to finance his college studies. That’s right, this man helped pay for his textbooks with eBay! He has a fine selection of minerals from worldwide locations, with a focus on New Jersey minerals, as he is close to the locations. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California from Alan Benson Collectable Land



#8 – ScepterGuy

Joe George is an avid Quartz miner. The crystals he has dug out of the ground have made it into magazines, museums and fine collections around the world. Crazy scepters and amethyst from Hallelujah Junction, fascinating terminations and twinning in specimens from Washington state, this man does the hard work to rescue these crystals from the mountain! Not only does he have a fine mix of specimens, people love his acrylic bases and mineral tack, something somewhat hard to find. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Pink Fluorite on Matix from France
Pink Fluorite on Matix from France from Scepter Guy



#7 – Meryln8804

Christopher Stefano is a recent graduate, another self supporting college student for a time. Now he does his ebay and website while working two jobs and raising a newborn! What a guy, because his store is constantly full of great mineral, with a focus in the unique and uncommon minerals of the world. As a specialist in Michigan minerals, if you are looking for an interesting mineral from that area, contact Chris! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Copper Crystals from Michigan
Copper Crystals from Michigan from Merlyn8804



#6 – JMineral

A bad reputation is being cast on many Chinese dealers, as fake and treated minerals are common in many of their eBay stores. JM Mineral is an extreme exception to this, with amazing minerals, popping up on eBay often WELL before any American ever lays eyes on them! The new finds out of Mongolia has made this dealer shine! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Green Quartz Cluster from JMineral



#5 – Crystal Springs Minerals

Crystal Springs focus is South African and Namibian minerals. With so much to chose from in that area of the world, Crystal Springs Minerals is a great source from that area of the world. A richly stocked eBay store and constant restocking has made them a favorite dealer to buy from! People love their red quartz, green fluorite, gem crystals and interesting minerals from the Kalahari. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa
Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa sold by Crystal Springs Minerals



#4 – Open Adit

Open Adit is a fine dealer of LARGE minerals and FRESH imports. Evolving over time, the minerals have always been FINE and amazingly inexpensive! As importers of hundreds of thousands of minerals, Open Adit has found a great way to make large sized cabinet specimens available to the public by presenting them online. Weekly auctions and tons to chose from, if you need a colorful addition to your collection or a display piece, Open Adit is the place to go! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa
Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa sold by Open Adit



#3 – Globe Minerals

Nik, the man behind the operations at Globe Mineral, has a FINE eye for natures beauty. One thing for sure, there is rarely a specimen that we would not like to have for our collection here at WheretoFindRocks.com! Colorful, bold and hand picked, Nik travels around the world hand picking selections to showcase on eBay. As eBay is Globe Minerals main distribution source, there is nothing held back, everything fine is presented on eBay and his customer service is top notch! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco
Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco sold by Globe Minerals



#2 – Jewel’s Fine Minerals

It has been a beautiful experience to watch this ebay dealer constantly improving the quality of the minerals, photos and service. It is almost impossible to imagine that Jewel’s Fine Minerals can get much better. A wide variety of minerals, this dealer is constantly traveling to mineral shows, buying collections and sniffing out all the great minerals to present to the public on eBay. The large amount of store items, weekly auctions and great attention to quality minerals makes Jewel’s Fine Minerals one of the accounts to constantly keep checking out! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Calcite and Fluorite from USA
Calcite and Fluorite from USA sold by Jewel’s Fine Minerals


AND, as a result of all the activity and customer feedback to The-Vug.com in 2012, the #1 Mineral Dealer on eBay…

#1 – Mineral Man 999

Mineralman999, Jasun and Mandy McAvoy, are legendary sellers of minerals on eBay. For good reason! They have had mineral auctions, ALL of them, starting at .99 cents, every week for over 7 years. Sometimes the sales prices of these minerals are in the THOUSANDS of dollars, but they ALWAYS start at .99 cents! Fantastic photos, minerals from all over the world, there is not a week that goes by that we do not find at LEAST one mineral that would be something worth fighting over! Classic minerals, new finds, gem crystals, gold, crazy locality specimens. MineralMan is THE place to visit each and every week. His #1 status is well deserved! You can view his store by clicking this link.

ineralman999 on eBay
Gold Crystal from Venezuela sold by Mineralman999

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