For most of us, Keweenaw County is quite a ways out of the way to visit. But on a trip to the U.P., we made a drive down the beautiful M26, which runs along Lake Superior, passing through Eagle River and Eagle Harbor on its way to Copper Harbor, the farthest point of civilization in Michigan.
Eagle River has the advantage of having a waterfall in the middle of town, and a very photogenic one at that. Situated between the Eagle River Museum and the falls is the Eagle River historical marker. It, like the waterfall, is right out in the open and easy to find. The marker talks about two of my favorite topics, beer and Cornishmen.
The first you can probably understand, but Cornishmen? Well, we wouldn't have pasties if we didn't have Cornishmen - they were the ones that brought that miner's food for England for all of us modern tourists to enjoy.
In 1843 the Lake Superior Copper Company purchased several land leases for mining. Two year later the Cliff Mine, alleged to be "the first great copper mine in the Western Hemisphere," was opened by the Pittsburgh & Boston Company. The mines attracted large numbers of Germans, Cornishmen and Irishmen and gave rise to other industries. On August 29, 1846, the Lake Superior News and Miners' Journal boasted that Eagle River had "the appearance of a thriving village." In 1850, Prussian immigrant Frank Knivel opened the Knivel Brewery, and in 1862 the Eagle River Fuse Company was established southeast of here on the river. The company manufactured 25,000 feet of fuse per day for user in the mines. In 1861, Keweenaw County was set off from Houghton County and Eagle River became the county seat.