Copper Harbor, Michigan

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Copper Harbor, Michigan
Aerial view of the Copper Harbor community
Aerial view of the Copper Harbor community
Location within Keweenaw County
Location within Keweenaw County
Copper Harbor is located in Michigan
Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor
Location within the state of Michigan
Copper Harbor is located in the United States
Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 47°28′08″N 87°53′18″W / 47.46889°N 87.88833°W / 47.46889; -87.88833
CountryUnited States
 • Total2.43 sq mi (6.28 km2)
 • Land1.51 sq mi (3.92 km2)
 • Water0.91 sq mi (2.37 km2)
605 ft (184 m)
 • Total136
 • Density89.89/sq mi (34.71/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
49950 (Mohawk)
Area code906
FIPS code26-18100[2]
GNIS feature ID623809[3]
WebsiteCopper Harbor

Copper Harbor is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located in Keweenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located within Grant Township. The population of the CDP was 136 as of the 2020 census.[4]

The community is located at the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula and is the northernmost permanently populated community in the state. Due to its natural environment and surroundings, which include Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Copper Harbor is marketed as an all-season tourist destination.[5][6]


The name of the community, Copper Harbor, alludes to the former use of its harbor as a port for shipping copper mined from local deposits during the mid-19th century.[7]


A mileage sign along US Highway 41 (US 41) in Copper Harbor, giving the distance to Miami, Florida, the highway's southern terminus.

The Keweenaw Peninsula and the area that would become the Copper Country was home to the Ojibwe people prior to European settlement. In 1836, the Upper Peninsula was officially ceded from the Native American Chippewa to the United States following the signing of the Treaty of Washington. The treaty was signed in the national capital, Washington, D.C., by Henry Schoolcraft and Native American representatives from the Ojibwe and Odawa nations.[8]

Copper Harbor was host to the first mineral land agency throughout the entire Lake Superior District. Captain Walter Cunningham was appointed by the United States Department of War to act as a Special Agent to the area. As soon as wayfinding was established in the spring of 1843, Cunningham had come to the area and opened his office, which was thereafter named the "Government House". It was positioned on Porter's Island, a small rocky island just opposite of present-day downtown Copper Harbor.[6]

The Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company, formed by John Hayes of Cleveland, Ohio, began excavating some pits near Haye's Point in Copper Harbor in 1844. It was a small development at first, but its mine was modern for its time, and the company struck it rich in 1845. The Pittsburgh and Boston mine operations were some of the first in the state of Michigan.[6][9][10][11]

A few years later, the Central Mine, Cliff Mine, and others were opened and became successful.[12][11][13][6][9] However, by 1870 the copper resources in the community had been largely worked out.[10][6]

The community of Copper Harbor was listed as a newly-organized census-designated place for the 2010 census, meaning it now has officially defined boundaries and population statistics.[14]


In 2010, Copper Harbor was listed as a census-designated place. The CDP contains a total area of 2.43 square miles (6.29 km2), of which 1.51 square miles (3.91 km2) is land and 0.92 square miles (2.38 km2) (37.86%) is water.[15]

Copper Harbor is located at the northern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which also extends for several miles to the east. Copper Harbor has its own post office and ZIP Code (49918).[16][17] Some areas within the community and the surrounding area may use the Mohawk 49950 ZIP Code.[18]

Beyond the community center, there are thick forests, limited roadways, and few developments.[19][20]

Relative to other communities in the Keweenaw, Copper Harbor is 9 miles (14.5 km) from Mandan, 12 miles (19.3 km) north of Delaware, and 16 miles (25.7 km) east of Eagle Harbor. The village of Ahmeek is the nearest incorporated community at 30 miles (48.3 km) to the southwest.[6][9][21][22][23]


Copper Harbor has a humid continental climate.[24] Summers are warm but rarely hot due to the moderating influence of Lake Superior, while winters are cold and snowy, albeit milder than areas on similar parallels to the west, due to the low-scale maritime moderation. Although winter temperatures are similar to those in the nearest large metropolitan city Minneapolis, a couple of degrees latitude south-west, the main difference is that April is also a winter month in Copper Harbor, since the marine effects delay spring. The temperature lag effect is so great that March holds the town's record low, and April's record low temperatures are not much warmer than those of December.

Climate data for Copper Harbor, Michigan (Fort Wilkins Historic State Park), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1972–2020
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 46
Mean maximum °F (°C) 38.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 22.8
Daily mean °F (°C) 17.0
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 11.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) −2.9
Record low °F (°C) −18
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.24
Source: NOAA[25][26]

Notable attractions[edit]

  • Hunter's Point is the name of a flat point, running out from the west into Lake Superior. It was named for an early settler of the area named Hunter who owned a tract of land on what is now Hunter's Point. He is buried in the Fort Wilkins Cemetery. Today, Hunter's Island is a Grant Township park, hosting a wide variety of both flora and fauna alike. It is also a well-known stop for migratory birds.[27][6]
  • Just outside the town is the northern terminus of U.S. Highway 41, which runs 1,990 miles (3,203 km) from Copper Harbor to Miami, Florida.[28][6][29]
  • Just north of downtown Copper Harbor is Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, an early restored frontier United States Army base originally built in 1844 to protect the vital port of Copper Harbor from the Ojibwe during the early years of the copper mining boom, America's first great mining rush. It became clear later that issues in the region were their own—rough and icy winters, isolation, and sheer loneliness.[6][30][9][20][31][32]
Copper Harbor Schoolhouse in 2020
  • The Copper Harbor Schoolhouse, one of the oldest one-room schools in Michigan, is found here. In 1999, this 140-year-old school had nine students who attended classes. The school district it lies in is called Grant Township Schools, District No. 2. The District motto is "Searching For Knowledge" and the mascot of the schoolhouse is the Copper Harbor Prospectors.[33][9][34]
  • Copper Harbor is home to a Fourth of July fireworks show that is locally notable on the Keweenaw Peninsula.[19][35]
  • Lake Fanny Hooe, named after the mining Captain William Albutrtis' juvenile sister-in-law, borders Fort Wilkins and is well-known in the area for the origin of its name. This lake is one mile east of Copper Harbor, and runs parallel with the highway M-26. The lake is two miles long and a quarter mile wide, with a total depth of thirty-five feet and numerous points.[9][6][36][37]
  • The historic Copper Harbor Lighthouse is situated at the opening of the physical harbor itself. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1866, replacing an original light from 1849, and is only accessible via a short ride in a compact, open vessel from the Copper Harbor Marina. Taken out of service in 1933, the historic navigational aid is one of the oldest lighthouses on Lake Superior. Within the yellow-bricked maritime post, furnishings from the era remain to conceptualize the life of the lighthouse keepers. Exhibits in the lighthouse museum cover both the lighthouse's history and the local shipwreck culture of the area.[31][38][6][9][32]
  • The historic Copper Harbor Cemetery discloses the gravestones of some of the earliest settlers in the Copper Country, with the first recorded interment in 1853 and a number of other tombstones that predate the year 1900.[39][9]
  • Characterized as "the most beautiful road in Michigan,"[citation needed] Brockway Mountain Drive is a 8.9-mile (14.3 km) roadway that follows the spine of a 735-foot (224 m) ridge between the communities of Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor, and it is the highest-paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny Mountains in the east. The notoriously picturesque[citation needed] road was constructed during the 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration. It offers views of Lake Superior, and the Keweenaw Peninsula, as well the archipelago of Isle Royale on an especially clear, transparent day. There is also a close on the drive called Brockway Mountain Lookout that offers a view of the community of Copper Harbor itself.[40][19][6][9][20][32]
  • In addition to the main 1849 Copper Harbor Lighthouse, the Copper Harbor Front Range and Rear Range Lights, both completed in 1869, remain and are locally considered to be iconic, as well as being the subject of memorabilia. The purpose of the Copper Harbor Range Lights was to do what the main lighthouse could not; it guided vessels and their sailors past the hazardous reefs on either side of the waterway.[41][22]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[42]

According to the 2020 census, the CDP had a population of 136. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, its median household income was $54,583.[4]




  • US 41 travels through Copper Harbor and has its northernmost terminus just east of the community.
  • M-26 has its northernmost terminus at U.S. Route 41 within the western portion of the community.

Ferry services[edit]

Copper Harbor contains a ferry port that provides transportation to Isle Royale National Park. The Isle Royale Line, Inc. (formerly named Isle Royale Ferry Service) operates the Isle Royale Queen IV out of Copper Harbor during the warmer months from May to September. The ferry takes 3.5 hours to travel 60 miles (97 km) across Lake Superior to Rock Harbor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Copper Harbor, Michigan
  4. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  5. ^ Michigan Economic Development Corporation (2021). "Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau: Copper Harbor". Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Monette, Clarence J. (1975). Some Copper Country Names And Places. Lake Linden, Michigan. ISBN 0-942363-04-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Lankton, Larry (2010). Hollowed Ground. Wayne State University Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 9780814334904.
  8. ^ Magnaghi, Russell M. (2009). Native Americans of Michigan's Upper Peninsula: A Chronology to 1900 (2nd ed.). Marquette, Michigan: Center for Upper Peninsula Studies. ISBN 978-0-557-33460-5.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Molloy, Lawrence J. (2011). A Guide to Michigan's Historic Keweenaw Copper District: Photographs, Maps, and Tours of the Keweenaw—Past and Present. Great Lakes GeoScience. ISBN 978-0-9791772-1-7.
  10. ^ a b Dunbar, Willis Frederick; May, George S. (1995). Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 358.
  11. ^ a b Whittlesey, Charles (1852). 4000 Years of Copper Country History. Greenlee Printing.
  12. ^ "Copper Mining History and Copper Harbor Michigan". Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  13. ^ Mansfield, John Brandt (1899). History of the Great Lakes. J. H. Beers & Co. p. 199.
  14. ^ "Michigan: 2010 Population and Housing Unit Counts 2010 Census of Population and Housing" (PDF). 2010 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. September 2012. p. III-6. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  15. ^ "Michigan: 2010 Population and Housing Unit Counts 2010 Census of Population and Housing" (PDF). 2010 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. September 2012. p. 31 Michigan. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  16. ^ Google (August 4, 2021). "49918 ZIP Code map" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  17. ^ (2021). "ZIP Code 49918: Copper Harbor (Calumet)". Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  18. ^ Google (August 4, 2021). "49950 ZIP Code map" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Vachon, Paul (2015). Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Berkeley, California: Avalon Travel. ISBN 978-1-61238-986-8.
  20. ^ a b c Penrod, John (2001). Michigan's Copper Country: Michigan's Historic Wilderness. Berrien Center, Michigan. ISBN 0-942618-69-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  21. ^ "Seeing The Light - Eagle Harbor Range Lights". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Copper Harbor Rear Range (Michigan) - 1910". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  23. ^ White, Mel (2016). National Geographic Complete National Parks of the United States (Second ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Partners. ISBN 978-1-4262-1692-3.
  24. ^ "Copper Harbor, Michigan Climate Summary". Weatherbase. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  26. ^ "Station: Copper Harbor FT WILKINS, MI". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991–2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  27. ^ "Hunter's Point Park - Grant Township". April 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  28. ^ "End of US highway 41". US Ends .com. Retrieved May 15, 2019.[self-published source]
  29. ^ "Terminus of U.S. 41 at Copper Harbor, Autumn Scenic Drive". May 13, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  30. ^ Hintz, Martin (1998). America The Beautiful: Michigan. Danbury, Connecticut: Children's Press. ISBN 0-516-20636-2.
  31. ^ a b National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States (Fifth ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Partners. 2018. ISBN 978-1-4262-1885-9.
  32. ^ a b c National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S. Washington, D.C. 2018. ISBN 978-1-4262-1905-4.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  33. ^ "schoolcopperharbor". schoolcopperharbor. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  34. ^ "Copper Country Intermediate School District". Hancock, Michigan. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  35. ^ "Annual Festivals Keweenaw Michigan". Keweenaw Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  36. ^ "Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground. Located at Keweenaw's Copper Harbor, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  37. ^ "Lake Fanny Hooe". Keweenaw Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  38. ^ James, Barry C. (2000). Lighting the Way: A History Of The Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Copper Harbor, Michigan: Fort Wilkins Natural History Association. ISBN 0-9675103-0-9.
  39. ^ "MI State Historic Preservation Objects". June 12, 2012. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  40. ^ Howard, Philip J. (2014). Yankee Yooper On The Keweenaw. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4931-8789-8. LCCN 2014905453.
  41. ^ "Michigan / Copper Harbor Old Rear Range light - plate (mitko)". World of Lighthouses. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  42. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.

External links[edit]