Vintage Photos of the Ghost Town of Central Mine, Michigan: 1887-1933
Sitting in the Upper Peninsula in Keweenaw County's Sherman Township, this Michigan ghost town goes by two names: ‘Central Mine’ and just plain ‘Central’. The town began in 1854 when 300 acres of Keweenaw Peninsula land were bought by the Central Mining Company. Here, an old Native American mine was discovered containing a rich amount of copper. After a shaft was sunk in 1855, over 41 tons of copper came out of just the first 40 feet! By 1856 homes were being built for the workers – mostly British immigrants – who were living some distance away at another mining camp. These new homes were just the beginning of the new town of Central.
These immigrants – mostly Cornish Methodists – helped set the tone for how we perceive the Upper Peninsula today (for one thing, they introduced us to the pasty). Proud of their town and accomplishments, the descendants of those Cornish folks still make the pilgrimage to Central Mine annually for reunions – for family and townsfolk.
In 1870, Central had a population of 950. The freezing, brittle winds that blew in from Lake Superior forced residents to find unique ways to stay warm – like insulating the windows by pouring sawdust between the wood and glass of boarded-up windows. Then they would have to wait months for spring to arrive, as no food could arrive until Lake Superior thawed.
A post office began operating in 1871 called “Central Mine”...also called just plain “Central”, it was briefly called the one-word “Centralmine” in 1894.
By the 1880s, the population was 1,200 and the town was thriving with businesses:
blacksmiths, boarding houses, general store, hotel, meat market, saloons, shoemaker, several other shops & stores, and a tailor.
After an 1872 tragedy where 13 men were killed in a mine shaft accident, the mine finally closed in the summer of 1898. The post office shut down in 1906 and from there, the town kept dwindling as more and more residents picked up and looked for work and homes elsewhere, until finally it was deemed a ghost town.
Once you take a look at how Central Mine looked over 100 years ago, come back and see how it looks in the 2000s here.
Vintage Photos of Ghost Town, Central Mine
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