The History of The Caledonia Mine

The Caledonia Mine is set in the north side of the Caledonia Bluff, overlooking the beautiful valley of the Flint Steel River, near Mass City, Michigan.  The tunnel now in use is the lowest of four adits as you come down the bluff. This tunnel is over 1.5 miles in length and connects underground with the Nebraska Mine to the West and the Knowlton and Mass Mines to the East.

The Caledonia property was first worked by ancient peoples thousands of years ago. Evidence of this occurs as numerous mining pits, stone mauls, and copper artifacts found over the last several hundred years.

In 1863, the Caledonia Mining Company was formed by Dr. John McKenzie’s reorganization of the Nebraska Mine, and acquiring the adjacent Kansas properties to the East . The workings at that time consisted of two shafts about 200 feet deep and an adit  300 feet in length driven in the Butler Lode on the West end of the Caledonia Bluff. In addition, four adits were begun on a mineralized fissure on the bluffs North side. This is still the only know mineralized cross fissure in the Ontonagon Mining District.

These four adits intersected the Knowlton, South Knowlton, Mass, and Butler Lodes. Mining was carried out from 1863 until 1870 when the mill burned. Most of the work was done on the Knowlton and Butler Lodes with small amounts of testing on the South Knowlton and Mass Lodes. Production was estimated at 450 tons of copper with a grade of about 25 pounds of copper per ton of rock.

The Caledonia was combined with the Flintsteel  properties in 1870 and a new mill was set up to work all the accumulated piles of stamp rock. A small amount of new mining was done, but not enough to keep the mill in operation and the mines were shut down.

The mines were next leased by Captain Martin in 1873, who during the next eight years removed in excess of 160 tons of copper including a single mass weighing forty tons. In 1901, it was proposed to organize the Caledonia properties to include all mineral lands between Michigan and Mass Properties. A mill site was even arranged for on Lake Superior but this grand plan was not to be.

The mines were quiet until 1937 when Calumet & Hecla began a diamond drilling program.  As a result of this the #4 Caledonia adit was reopened and about 2000 feet of drifting was done on the Knowlton Lode. In addition the adit was extended across the Evergreen Series to the Ogima Lode and connected with the old Nebraska workings to the West. Some drifting was also done on the South Knowlton and Ogima Lodes with poor results. Grade of ore from the Knowlton Lode was estimated at 29 pounds of copper per ton of rock. The project was stopped because of World War II.

An approximate 200 ton ore sample was removed from the Knowlton Lode in 1950 that showed a grade of 36.75 pounds of copper per ton of rock. Test mining and drifting in 1951 and continued through 1958. The program included connecting the #4 adit level to Mass “C” Shaft on the Knowlton Lode, mining the Knowlton Lode above the adit, drifting and mining the Butler and Evergreen Lodes and limited diamond drilling. During this period 224,209 tons of ore were removed with an average grade of 24.85 pounds of copper per ton of rock.

Some exploration by Copper Range Co. and the U.S. Bureau of Mines took place in 1971 and 1972. This basically included reopening the adit and inspecting the mine. It was thought that the Caledonia might be a candidate for insitu leaching operations, but fear of polluting the ground water cancelled this idea.

In 1985 Red Metal Exploration, owned by Mr. Richard Whiteman acquired the mineral rights to the Caledonia Mine. Over the next years he has improved the mine site with an adit to the fourth level, a mineral collecting area, bat program, university tours, and a large pavilion for guests to come and enjoy events at the Caledonia Mine.

In 2013 the Caledonia Mine and site was purchased by Evergreen Explorations L.L.C.. Special thanks to Mr. Richard Whiteman for providing the history of The Caledonia Mine.

We Hope To See You Soon

Thank you for your interest in the Caledonia Mine, we cannot wait to provide you a unique, rock-collecting experience!

We require 48 hours notice to prepare your reservation.


During the season, we are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Looking to visit on another day of the week? We offer 'Pick Your Own Day' bookings for a $75 fee depending on the availability of our staff. Please call for more details.

© 2024 Caledonia Copper Mine | Select photos from Unsplash | Sitemap | Website by Determined.