Michigan Copper and Iron Mining History and Politics: May 3, 2011Bessemer Heritage Center
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City life of Bessemer and historical plaque of Colby Mine

Looking at the top photograph from the the Bessemer Historical Center, displays the focal point of the city's prime existence. In 1880 when a fur trapper named Richard Langford discovered Iron Ore, the rocky and forestry location became a town of importance in the Upper Peninsula of Northern Michigan. During the productive years of mining Iron Ore, the city drew different nationalities and ethnic diversifications to create a home for many different people.

The Colby property was soon developed afterwards by N.D. Moore. In doing so, required the implementation of a solid foundation for the production and operation so the mining of Iron Ore could begin in 1883. To create a successful mining operation, the property needed the basic elements and necessities to locate, remove and transport the natural resources.

The Colby property was soon developed afterwards by N.D. Moore. This required the implementation of a foundation for the production and operation so the mining of Iron Ore could begin in 1883. In order to create a successful mining operation, the property needed the basic elements and necessities to locate, remove and transport the natural resources.

The President of the Milwaukee Lake Shore and Western Railroad Company named the town in 1884 after Sir Henry Bessemer who discovered the Smelting Process. But the city was not officially organized until 1887 when 360 voting members created the village of Bessemer.

The early townspeople of Bessemer were of mixed Americans, surveyors, prospectors who were interested in the Iron Ore deposits. Later came the Miners that were Cornish, Irish, Scandinavian, French Canadian, and Polish. The Colby Open Pit Ore Mine was being dug and delivered by horse and wagon to the railroad line. Once located, the ore was delivered to the Ashland Ore Docks. Later came the railroad workers, Finns and a select few Jewish nationality. Production of more than 245 million tons of Iron Ore was removed from all of the Gogebic County over the course of seventy-five years. The Peterson Mine was the last functioning mine but it closed in 1966.

In addition to the mining, the lumber industry was very fruitful for the city. Pine trees were being cut and processed through saw mills. The lumber though soon was harvested and the industry decreased in production. Today, the main industry is four-season tourism, logging and lumbering. - Jeff Janofski



Class Photos 2012:

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Class Photos 2011:


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This plaque helps display the cultural diversity imported into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The mining industry employed large amounts of immigrants, ranging from Cornish to Finnish. – David Eggleston


This is an image taken of a photo of the Keystone Bridge located in the Bessemer Heritage Museum. The bridge is considered to be the second largest in the world. When looking at the bridge, it is evident the amount of craftsmanship executed in the construction of the structure. The bridge is used primarily used for rail cars and was constructed by the The Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company in 1891- Ashley Holloway
This is an image taken of a photo of the Keystone Bridge located in the Bessemer Heritage Museum. The bridge is considered to be the second largest in the world. When looking at the bridge, it is evident the amount of craftsmanship executed in the construction of the structure. The bridge is used primarily used for rail cars and was constructed by the The Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company in 1891- Ashley Holloway


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This was an image of Bessemer High School when it was completed. Notice the design of the building and how nice the schools were. Education was very important and a lot of money was put into the building and the education system as a whole. All the schools around the mining areas were very nice and very expensive to build. -Heather Bartels


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This is a persuasive sign that displays the high importance of safety for the workers at Wakefield mines. Although the risks at the mines where high and perhaps many times inevitable, workers were strongly asked to observe for their protection. Such depiction is found at the Bessemer Heritage Center in Bessemer as a part of the artifacts collection. Judith Tellez-G


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The Bessemer Heritage Center is trying to preserve the history of the town and area. -Kait Greathouse

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This slide is from the presentation at the Bessemer Heritige Center. It shows all of the mines that were established along the Gogebic Iron Range. The range streched from Montreal, Wisconsin to Wakefield, Michigan. Jeff Fisher
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At the Heritage center there were stacks and stack of their old magazine, "Iron News" from back in the 1940s and 50s when Bessemer was still a large mining town. Jordan Harris


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The Town Hall/Firehouse across the street from the Heritage Center in Bessemer - Andrew Shaver
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An old football jersey and helmet found in the Bessemer Herritage Center. - Joe Fuld