Native copper mining by prehistoric races in the Lake Superior region dates back at least 5,000 years. This is evidenced by the numerous ancient pits found along a distance of 60 miles, containing masses of native copper in various stages of removal together with crude stone tools used in mining, and by implements, tools, and decorative and ceremonial objects made from copper.
The copper district stretches about 100 miles in length, from the Copper Harbour area in the far north to the White Pine Mine at the far south western end of the belt. However, the majority of native copper mines are located along narrow, 2 to 3 mile wide, 30 mile long belt. The majority of the historic production was found near Houghton and Calumet.
Although the White Pine region, to the south in Ontonagon County, produced 4 billion pounds of copper, the most famous portion of the district was the native copper mines of Houghton and Keweenaw counties. During its productive period, from 1845 to 1977, the district produced in excess of 11 billion pounds of copper. It is one of the major copper mining districts in the United States and is truly worthy of the term, the "Copper Country".