Mining is what Calumet is remembered for. The copper rush was the nation’s first mineral boom. It left the area with the nickname “The Copper Country.”
Copper mining in the area started as early as 7,000 years ago. The natives used to copper to make tools. The English attempted to industrialize mining in the 1700’s but were ineffective. In 1865, a man named Edwin Hulbert started the Calumet Company. Six years later, the company merged with*(should it say Mining?) the Hecla Company, creating Calumet’s mining juggernaut, Calumet & Hecla Mining Company. The newly established town of Red Jacket flourished around the two companies. Thousands of immigrants flooded to the Copper Country for work from Finland, Sweden, England, Italy, and Poland, as well as from all over the country.
Calumet was the country’s principal copper supplier from 1868 to 1886, producing more than half of the nation’s copper. From 1869 to 1876, it was the number one supplier in the world. At one point there were 45 mining companies in the Copper Country with investors from all across the country.
The price of copper decreased with the Great Depression, causing most of the mines to close. World War II increased the need, and consequentially prices of copper, leading many mines to reopen. The prices dropped again at the end of the war, instantly closing most of the mines for good.