During August, 2018, I had the opportunity to go on a field trip of the Walker Mineralogical Club that was tied in with "Keweenaw Week", an endeavour of the Copper Country Rock and Mineral Club. as it turns out, the Walker Club "piggybacked" on a wonderful event: Four field trips to classic copper mines, an opening "Meet and Greet" with guest speaker Natalie Brandes and a Banquet with after-supper auction. I was a day late getting there, so missed the field trip to the famous Central Mine. I was able to visit the Cliff, Wolverine and Seneca #2 Mines and use my metal detector at each. The CCRMC "freshened up" the dumps with a bulldozer or exacavator an hour or two prior to each "dig" for us. The Walker Club topped off the week with a visit to the fantastic A.E. Seaman Museum which houses one of the premier mineral collections of the world. As well, curator Dr. Chris Stefano took a day out of his busy life to lead us on a field trip to the Copper Harbour Manganese Mine and some other areas of geological or scenic interest in the area. It was a great week. I'd like to thank all those that I met and spent time with during the week, particularly Steve Szilard, Brus Fulcher, Stephanie Koles and Frank and Tracy Ruehlicke. Here are some pictures and text of some of the things that I saw and encountered that week. Hope you enjoy them!
Our Collecting Abode
Our accommodations in the Keweenaw rank up with the best that I've stayed in over the years for mineral collecting. There is a group in Laurium, MI, that have purchased a number of old homes, many of them mansions or residences of senior mining executives or business people from the old days, and now, rent them out to people like us! So we stayed at this old home which was perfectly appointed. We could shop and store our food in a refrigerator, cook our breakfasts, make our lunches, eat in a nice dining room, keep our beer cold, etc. Each of us had our own bedroom. Mine was nicer than the one I have at home! One evening, we had a BBQ, invited friends and sat on the front porch 'till midnight. All said, wonderful accomodations.
I want one of these!! Each day, just prior to the start of collecting, the Copper Country Rock and Mineral Club very considerately hired a bulldozer to scrape the top foot or so off of the top of the dump to expose fresh rock that had not been metal detected before. Some of these dumps are many decades old or over 100 years old! I find it exciting that the exposed rocks and coppers have not seen the light of day in that period of time!
Here is the living room and parlour where it was very pleasant to sit in and chat or play music. This was definitely the nicest mineral collecting digs that I've stayed in!
Cliff Mine Rock Dump View
This was the first Rock dump that we visited. I spent most of my time -at the top of the rock dump with my metal detector.
Some of the members of the CCRMC are experts with metal detectors. Prior to each "Dig" they offered to look over the metal detectors of participants and offer suggestions and guidance for their use or test them out. Here Steve is getting a helping hand with his.
The Cornish miners that came to the Keweenaw Peninsula's mines 150 years ago (!) brought their traditional lunch-time meal with them -the Cornish pasty. Just like back in the tin miners of Cornwall, their wives made pasties of meat, turnip, potatoes, etc., in a yummy pastry pocket. People on the U.P. make those pasties to this day and they are available in shops and grocery stores everywhere in the area. Pasties are a "comfort food" perfect to enjoy after a hard working morning on the rock dump. It is one of my favourite things that I enjoy on my trips to the U.P. I seemed to want a nap after each pasty meal...
Doze That Dump!
The Wolverine Mine is famous for the agates that are have bands that are pure copper. Very odd mineralization. We were all out there on the freshly bulldozed dump trying to detect them. I won't know if I actually have one until I clean my finds up and saw them. Fingers crossed!
Hard at Work
Here Steve Szilard, president of the Walker Mineralogical Club, works hard to find his copper-agate specimen.
Seneca Rock Dump
The last copper mine that we visited was the Seneca #1 Mine. The configuration of the rock dump was such that the CCRMC used a large excavator to freshen up the rock piles. Worked great! We all found lots of copper but I won't know for sure WHAT I found until it is all cleaned up and prepped. I threw a lot of ordinary copper aside. There is no lack of native copper in these piles but GOOD copper (crystallized, aesthetic, etc.) is difficult to find.
A.E. Seaman Museum
After we'd finished with the Keweenaw Week activities, we visited the A.E. Seaman Museum in Houghton. It is certainly one of the best mineral collections on display in North America or the world and definitely THE best exhibit of native copper specimens in the world. To get a really good overview of the Museum, go to my Article in the "Articles" section of this website In this "Recent Activities" will add some images of specimens that I did not show in the Article In this picture, center-left, Curator Dr. Chris Stefano outlines some of aspects of the museum before setting us loose amongst the cases. Dr. Stefano generously stuck with us the whole morning to help us appreciate some of the finer aspects of the A.E. Seaman Museum Collection.
Up Close with Dr. Stefano
Here, Dr. Stefano fills members of the Walker Mineralogical Club in on details about the history of the A.E. Seaman museum and it collections. Look at that sheet of native copper, from White Pine Mine, behind them!
Copper, Champion Mine, 10.0cm long
An exquisite, finely dendritic aggregate of copper crystals from the Champion Mine. So different compared to the large blocky crystals often recovered in the Keweenaw!