The ropes gold mine is the most important historic gold mine in Michiganís Upper Peninsula. The mine has a great history that dates back to 1881 when gold was discovered at its site near the town of Ishpeming by Julius Ropes, a postmaster, a former druggist and a school board member.
Mining Begins at the Ropes Gold Mine
Upon the discovery of the gold, Mr. Ropes acted quickly by forming the Ropes Gold and Silver Company to explore and mine the gold. Mining at the sight begun in 1893 and continued for 15 years until 1897 when financial difficulties forced the company to close shop. The mining begun by the sinking of the curry shaft and used both mercury amalgamation method and gravity separation methods to extract the gold.
By the closure of the mine in 1897 gold worth about $645,792 had been mined from the mine.
Gold Mining ContinuedÖ
In 1900 Corrigan McKinney and Co. bought the mine and recovered gold worth about $200,000 between 1900 and 1901 from the tailings. Further gold was later recovered from the mercury amalgam in the mine. The gold mine then changed hands several times before Callahan Mining Co. bought it in the 1970 when gold prices had reached their peak.
After many decades of inactivity, mining once again resumed in 1983. The mine collapsed in 1987 halting the mining temporarily but the hole was quickly filled with sand and the mining resumed until 1991 when gold prices dropped and the reduced the profitability of the mine. The ore mined at the mine during this time was carried to the retired Humboldt iron mire where gold was extracted.
The Ropes Gold Mine Today
No mining is actively taking place at the Ropes Gold Mine today, although gold is still likely to be present here at the mine. The high cost of operations makes gold mining challenging even when gold prices are high. The start-and-stop history of the mine over the past decade would indicate that although considerable gold was found over the years, operations were probably not all that profitable.
Some of Michiganís finest gold specimens originated from the Ropes Mine. There is likely still good gold here despite the challenges of bringing the mine back into operation.
Gold Prospecting in the Area
Most of the waters around Ishpeming will produce a bit of gold for the patient gold prospector. While this region eventually became much more famous for its copper deposits, there is gold to be found here.
There are large copper nuggets that have been found in the Upper Peninsula, but there are very few large gold nuggets that have been found. Occassionally specimens of gold veins in quartz have been found, but in the creeks and rivers it is primarily fine gold dust that you will recover. Use a gold pan carefully search the river gravels. If you are lucky, you might just spot a glimmer of gold amongst the black sand.
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