NEGAUNEE - Fed by his experience growing up in the Salisbury Mine location in Ishpeming, local historian Robert Dobson recently completed his ninth book on the history of Ishpeming and Negaunee.
His newest publication explores the mine that started it all - the Jackson Mine in Negaunee.
"A lot of people like the mines," Dobson said. "I grew up in Ishpeming and I was always interested in the mines."
Local historian Robert Dobson holds his most recent book, a history of the Jackson Mine. Dobson has written nine books on the history of the Negaunee and Ishpeming areas. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
When asked to give a presentation on the Jackson Mine at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, which is set for July 10, Dobson began researching the mine in November, with the research that supplied the information for the lecture culminating in "We're Going to the 1845 Jackson Mine, Negaunee, Michigan."
The book, which is available at local book stores, includes 72 maps and photos and explores the history of the Jackson Mine from the time ore was first discovered there in 1845 through to the relocation of more than 150 homes and businesses from the Old Town area of Negaunee when fears of cave ins caused the property to be fenced off. The book continues with an account of the area being reopened and the building of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.
"The Jackson was owned by men from Jackson, Mich., and they weren't very good investors or miners," Dobson said.
The book follows the story of the Jackson Mine through purchases by various investors until it was purchased by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, which owned the mine when production ended in 1948 and the shafts reached 12 levels below ground, about 3,660 feet below the shaft collar.
During his research, Dobson said he found some interesting pieces of information - not the least of which is that relatively little information exists about the early days of the mine. With the mine being the impetus of the community of Negaunee, newspapers didn't begin publication until the mine was already established.
Even when the Iron Herald began printing, Dobson said its run was small.
"It only printed 200 copies a week because most people couldn't speak English," he said of the immigrants who arrived to work in the mine and made up a large part of the community.
Intended to be a tool for tourists, explorers and those interested in local history, Dobson's newest book allows readers to learn more about the mine that gave birth to the surrounding communities.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.