WI Mining Industry Notes along with information from 135-142
Location • Population center was created in the southwestern part of Wisconsin – some 90% of lead deposits were in Wisconsin • Mining was not dependent on cooperation with Indians. • Mining Districts: communities whose economy is based on mining. • Other businesses were founded to serve the residents • Shipping Ports – Prairie du Chien, Superior, Bayfield, Ashland, Green Bay, Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha.
Galena • Grey mineral that contained lead • Discovered by Indians in several areas of Wisconsin • Lead smelting at the Bell site near Lake Winnebago (Fox village) • Crabapple Point by Lake Koshkonong(Winnebago camp) • Midwestern Indian sites reveal the presence of lead obtained through elaborate trade networks. • 100s of years prior to Europeans arriving, Indian tribes (Ho-Chunk, Fox, and Sauk) mined easily accessible lead • Nicolas Perrot – traded lead with Indians in 1680s • French left in 1763 and the natives guarded mines carefully • Julien Dubuque married a Fox woman and was approved by her tribe to develop mines in 1788 • Shipped the lead downriver twice a year and completely understated the amount of lead obtained in Wisconsin • From seeing Indians painted with ocher containing galena, French learned of the lead deposits early. • Pieces of melted lead, lead musket balls, baling seals, and crosses at French sites • Word quickly spread to others (how this industry works)
Success/Attraction • Luck was the key to success – once a lode was found the competition increased. • Rush – sudden influx of wealth seekers due to get-rich-quick rewards • Boom – quick increase in economic activity – followed by a bust – quick decline • Mostly Anglo-Americans/British settlers (skilled miners from Cornwall region) • Describe the conditions Cornish miners left to come to Wisconsin: • “Land of Bondage” – Cornwall’s declining copper and tin industry was dominated by a rigid economic system above ground and strenuous working conditions below. • Mined for ammunition during wars (1800s) and shipped to ports on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River
“Fever River Mines” • Lead drew settlers in the 1820s to southwestern Wisconsin (Mineral Point) • So much lead was shipped to St. Louis word spread about the wealth • Indians blocked Americans from the area • Indian Agent Thomas Forsyth (knew the Rock River country well – worked with Sacs and Foxes) reported that the Winnebago had been working lead mines for years • 1822 the federal government extended its Missouri lead mine leasing system to the district. • Miners could lease claims with a 10% payment of all lead smelted
Fever River Rush • Began in 1823 • Chance to become rich by being among the first into an area abundant with natural resources (word traveled fast) • By 1829 there were 10,000 miners in the district, producing 13.3 million pounds of lead • Passed the Missouri mines to become America’s major source of lead (in high demand) • House paint, pipes, sheeting, printers’ type, and bullets • 1840 produced half of America’s lead
Nature of Mining • Favored individual miners and small groups – men without much capital, equipment, or technical knowledge (unskilled miners soon became skilled) • Galena was near the surface and in sheets • Miners soon went below surface scratching sinking shafts and then following veins. • Windlasses lowered them into mines • Shovels, picks, gads, crowbars, hand drills, and blasting powder
Miners • Rough men with uncouth language and • Habits unrecognized to many in the area before their arrival. • Informal speech with their employer (“Uncle Billy”) • Uncut hair, red flannel shirts, heavy boots over their pants • Eager to enjoy themselves – gambling, dancing, singing, and drinking • Still behaved like gentlemen • Intelligent, polished, and upright citizens
Housing • Miners burrowed into hillside rather than constructing shelters – hence the nickname “Badgers”/the “Badger State” • Southern Illinois miners came in the spring and returned home in the fall. • “Suckers” – migratory fish • Diggings were known as “sucker-holes” • “Sucker State” • da Bears – coincidence (I think not!) • Settlements boomed in the 1820s-1830s • Mineral Point, Platteville, Dodgeville… • Immigrants – Cornish (British), Swedes, Finns, Croats, and Slovenes • Cultural identities shaped the communities – food, religion, etc.
Other Deposits • By 1850s, lead ore had been mined, leading to zinc mining • Miners went to copper or iron mining, headed to California for the gold rush, or began zinc mining • Zinc started in Southwestern Wisconsin in the 1850s (lasted on a small scale until the 1970s) • Smelting – heat-processing of metallic ore • Iron mining lasted from 1850s-1980s • “Unlimited Extent” at Lake Superior, in the Baraboo district, and at Iron Ridge • Iron from WI, MN, and MI was key to industrial development (steel – iron combined with carbon or other metals) • Ideal location near the Great Lakes made it easy to ship to accommodate needs of the rising steel industry. • Copper mining lasted from 1880s-1910s and again in 1990s • Indians had mined copper on shores of Lake Superior (prehistoric times) • 3000-1200 BCE – copper jewelry and implements from Wisconsin and the U.P. were part of the trade network that stretched from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf Coast • Easy access to copper deposits – some lying right on the shore
Treaties with Natives • Treaties between 1804 and 1832 ceded all Indian lands south of the Wisconsin River • Intensifying rate of settlement coincided with the increasing demand for lead. • Iron and copper mining regions became more appealing as the federal government removed all Indians west of the Mississippi • Ojibwe allowed white settlers to extract its minerals while they retained the right to live, hunt, and fish in the area.
Investors in the East • Northern Settlement was shaped particularly for investors from the East • More profitable to refine the ore out east rather than locally • Sault Ste. Marie canal was built to connect Lake Superior to the other lakes – along with an intricate system of loading and unloading ore onto specialized lake ship. • Economic panic of 1857 and the Civil War diverted capital • Some cities vanished almost overnight when investors and residents went elsewhere • Discovery of high-grade Bessemer ore in northern Wisconsin and Michigan in 1872 renewed interest in the region. • Most profitable deposits were in Michigan, meaning a decline in Wisconsin • Dependence on Eastern financiers and out-of-state consumers left the northern region without economic and political stability • Resources began to dwindle and investors shifted to more lucrative options • People were left to survive as best they could on their own (not good!) • In southern mining areas, they were more self-sufficient supplying products to families, local markets, and urban centers.