Pronounced KEY-wah-nah, an Ojibway word that means "the
crossing place" or "land crossing between two bodies of
water." It refers to traversing Portage Lake to reach
the Keweenaw Peninsula.
March 11, 1861
County Seat: Eagle River
(2010 census est.)
4.3 people per sq. mi.
Location: 47.4772 N, 88.1550
Townships: Allouez, Eagle
Harbor, Grant, Houghton, Sherman
Time has told the
story of Keweenaw
Ancient Indians honored the land and celebrated its
awesome beauty. But the wealth of Keweenaw County lay
beneath the surface of its rugged hills, for this was
the only place in the world where native copper was
found in any considerable quantity.
Early native peoples began mining and using copper over
7,000 years ago. When Europeans arrived in the area,
attempts at mining were at first unsuccessful. By the
1840ís, "copper fever" took hold, creating one of the first mineral mining booms in the New World. In 1843,
modern copper mines began production. Since then, over
ten percent of all the copper in the world was produced
in the Copper Country.
the natural Keweenaw Waterway was dredged and expanded
in the 1860s for shipping, the Keweenaw Peninsula became
an island surrounded by Lake Superior. Of all the counties in the United States, Keweenaw
County has the highest proportion of water area to total
area. In essence, approximately 90 percent of the county
is under the surface of Lake Superior with 541 square
miles of land and 5,425 square miles of water.
The "Big Lake" controls the regionís climate. Spring is
brief and cool, summer is sunny and mild, and autumn
arrives in September with a blaze of color. In winter,
snow normally covers the land from Thanksgiving to late
April with the average annual snowfall ranging from 180
to 250 inches.
The diversity of the landscape--from singing sand
beaches to the oldest known lava formations on earth can
be found along the shores. An all-encompassing view from
700- to 900-foot peaks takes in vast strands of forest,
lakes, hills and water.
Spring creates the illusion of an emerald island as the
hardwoods take on new leaves. Fall offers up a quilt of
autumn colors combining with the greens of conifers that
blanket the land in beauty.
Fort Wilkins State Park, established in 1844, has been
restored. Mining history comes alive at the Quincy and
Delaware Mine complexes.
golf course, hiking and biking trails, skiing and
snowmobile trails, safe harbors, migratory bird flyways
all add to the urge to wander...and wonder.
Welcome to Keweenaw County The land of ocean blue,
emerald green, blazing russet, gold, orange and red; and
in the winter, a pure white blanket of quiet and peace.
Every season renews the spirit, we urge you to visit
year-round and see every glorious season.
The least populated county in Michigan, our villages are
home to proud descendants of miners who each have a
story to tell of the "copper country". We are proud of
our sense of place, tucked within the beautiful forests
of hardwood trees and white pines. Stop awhile, and
youíll hear a story or two from the locals.
Community lies near the southern boundary of Keweenaw
County on U.S. Highway 41 and essentially serves as one
of the two gateways into the county.
Like its neighbor Ahmeek, Mohawk is a former mining town
and is the largest town in the county. In 1896, a
lumberman found some native copper in the area.
Exploration by Joseph E. Gay proved the value of the find, and in 1898, the Mohawk Mining Company was formed
and began operation. The village developed with the mine
and was named for it.
Not far from Mohawk is Gay, a community so named because
of mining operations initiated by Joseph E. Gay. Gay is
the site of a former copper ore stamping mill where the
ore, consisting of native copper metal and volcanic
rock, was smashed into progressively smaller pieces
until the copper became dislodged from the host rock.
Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor
two communities are located on the north shore of the
Keweenaw Peninsula about 10 miles apart. Copper Harbor
is the more easterly of the two and serves as the
northern endpoint (or beginning, depending on your point
of view) of U.S. Highway 41, the other end terminating
at Miami, Florida.
The majority of residents of Eagle Harbor are seasonal
residents who live elsewhere during the rather severe
winters. But more and more residents are making the
community their year-round home.
Copper Harbor, with a state park and a jumping off point
for access to Isle Royale National Park, located 48
miles to the northwest in Lake Superior, will continue
to attract residents and visitors alike. Nature-based
tourism currently pays an important role, especially the
public-access facilities that allow people to enjoy Lake
Superior. Tourism and recreation on undeveloped lands is
on the increase in the county particularly with the
development of excellent trail systems for both
non-motorized and motorized year-round sports.