Old Victoria Copper Mine
OLD VICTORIA COPPER MINE: A JOURNEY TO THE PAST
A relic of the copper-mining days is the town of Victoria, built near the original site of the site of the famous Ontonagon Boulder. Like so many communities, Victoria lost its spark of life when the copper industry abandoned the area. But unlike other small, almost forgotten mining towns, Victoria is being brought back to life by a large restoration project aimed at recreating the mid-1800’s community as it was in its peak. Old Victoria as it is called, is already open to the public, and when you walk across its green lawns, past blooming lilacs, the past has never been so near.
Miners came to the hills of Victoria in 1849 seeking copper and sliver. Mining camps such as Victoria sprung up overnight, usually near ancient miners pits, then vanished just as quickly. Although Victoria was a low-grade operation, it continued to produce sufficient copper to making mining in those hills, profitable.
One of the reasons for the success at Victoria was the use of the mighty Ontonagon River. It produced power to operate the mine’s operation through the famous Taylor Air Compressor, the most powerful device of its type ever built.
When seeing the Old Victoria Restoration today, visitors will see the log homes hewed out of the Ontonatgon Country wilderness in which sturdy pioneer miners lived and raised their families. There are several buildings open to the public which display the rustic lifestyle of the miners. Copper samples are displayed on old crocheted table cloths and the wood cookstove displays other goods from the 1800’s. Nothing is under glass or locked away in showcases. At Victoria, it is as it was and you are free to reach out and touch a bit of the past.
Experience the walk into the mine site on the same trails trod by those pioneers so long ago. Search the mountainous poor rock heap for copper samples; climb the summit of Mt. Lookout where you can see the site of the legendary Copper Boulder of the Ontonagon River; pass through the area of one of the greatest conflicts of all time in which the Ojibway battled the Sioux for the possession of that great Manitou, the Copper Boulder. From Mt. Lookout you can also view the highest hydroelectric dam in the Midwest.
The Victoria Lake Reservoir is just about a mile beyond the Old Victoria Historic Townsite. The West Branch of the Ontonagon River flows into the reservoir and can be fished or enjoyed for its scenic waterfront spot, a great place for a picnic too.
The Old Victoria Restoration is located four miles west of Rockland, Michigan in Ontonagon County The road is clearly marked off US-45.