The Threat of Sulphide Mining Lingers in the Penokee Hills Remains 

Sulfide mining has created controversy and intimately led to Wisconsin passing strict laws governing sulfide mining, which have up the present halted sulfide mining in Wisconsin. The current interest in mining across the Lake Superior Watershed has been described as the Midwest mining rush, Across the region national and international mining companies are eyeing the our mineral resources, The unique geology of the region will be showcased in Ashland Wisconsin by the Institute on Lake Superior Geology. The annual meeting will be held on May 18 - 21 and chaired by Northland College professor Tom Fitz. 

The recent application by Gogebic Minerals to begin exploration in the Penokee Hills might address the lingering concern that sulfide mining becomes a reality in the Penokee Hills. Sulfide deposits have been documented in the region and until the Cline Group, Gogebic Minerals and possibly La Pointe Mining identify the "footprint" or location of the specific mining sites, the question will remained without a definite answer. The recent editorial in the Ashland Daily Press, Keep the Door Open to Mining, once again discusses the proposed hundreds of jobs, economic gain, and the rebirth of an industry in Northern Wisconsin. Should sulfide mining be part of this industry, will the hundreds of jobs and the spins offs be worth the price? Northland College President Mike Miller recently moderated a Public Information Meeting has suggested Northland College play the role of moderator and convener in the Penokee Hills mining debate. The area economic development councils are excited and showering accolades on the prospect of jobs and money. Politicians from the courthouse to the state house are equally excited - jobs for the North and apparently with little or no regard for the watershed. It is their reputations that are at staked. It was not so long ago the same enthusiasm was displayed for the efforts of Terra energy and their promise of a "Cadillac in every garage". The enthusiasm died as area residents found this promise to be shall WE a bit overstated. 

To be certain, the enthusiasm shown for development, jobs, and always attracts the politicians, the prospect of making money, and lots of it attracts the speculators. The current political climate seems to make Wisconsin ripe for speculators. The Governor is attempting to make Wisconsin a third world state by stripping employee bargaining rights, proposing a fast track for developers, and making very questionable agency director appointments. Wisconsin's freshman Senator Washington, Ron Johnson resource extraction wherever they may be found. Sean Duffy seems more than willing to blindly follow the tea party and republican conservatives as he tries to stand up for health care and seniors. WE do not have high hopes for a few hills in the Penokees to rate much concern from his office especially if this current infatuation with jobs and hundreds of them paying $50,000 a year.

Those who stand to profit the most at the expense of the Penokee Hills have crafted a well chosen message, they have greased the hallways of the statehouse, seduced the are economic development corporations, media with the WE hope are not empty promises. What is a concern is the resounding silence when it comes to protecting the Penokees and the headwaters of two major watershed – one flows to the north and other flows to the south. So far all the public hears is orchestrated around the prospects of jobs and economic develop.

Hopefuly acid mining will not become part of  the unfolding confrontation between ming supporters and  those in opposition. If solution mining, acid mining, or probably ad better description is chemical mining is to part of the process 



HomeAboutContactPeople Index1600s1700-17591759-18201820s1830s1840s1850sPost 1860Chief Buffalo Picture SearchLt. Allen 1832 Brule ExpeditionSandy Lake Tragedy and Ojibwe RemovalReisen in NordamerikaWheeler Papers1855 Annuity PaymentJoseph Austrian MemoirPenokee MountainsPenokee Survey Incidents: Number IFebruary 8, 2015The Ashland Weekly Press is now the Ashland Daily Press.November 10, 1877
For the Ashland Press
The Survey of the Penoka Iron Range and Incidents Connected With Its Early History.Samuel S. Fifield served on the Wisconsin State Assembly (1874-6) and the State Senate (1876-81); and was the 14th Lieutenant Governor (1882-5).James Smith Buck (1812-92) “For 19 years, Buck was a building contractor, erecting many of the city’s earliest structures. He is best known for his writings on early Milwaukee history. From 1876 to 1886, he published a four-volume History of Milwaukee, filled with pioneer biographies and reminiscences.” (Forest Home Cemetery)Friend Fifield:- Being one of the patrons and readers of your valuable paper, and having within the past year noticed several very interesting and well written articles entitled “Early Recollections of Ashland” in its columns, and more particularly one from a Milwaukee correspondent, in a recent number, in which my name, with others, was mentioned as having done some pioneer work in connection with your young city, I thought that a few lines in the way of a “Reminiscence” from me as to how and by whom the Penoka Range was first surveyed and located, might be interesting to some of your readers,- if you think so, please give this a place in your paper and oblige.
Truly Yours,
J.S. Buck.
Edwin Palmer was a master carpenter at Palmer & Bingham in Milwaukee.Horatio Hill and James F. Hill were brothers from Maine and commission merchants in Milwaukee.Dr. James P. Greves “investigated animal magnetism” and “was a bad egg“.John Lockwood later became a Postmaster in Milwaukee.John L. Harris may have been a builder or realtor in Milwaukee.John Sidebotham was an Englishman and cabinet maker in Milwaukee.Franklin J. Ripley was an investor from Massachusetts.No record found for William Herbert.  Was he the employee found murdered in the Penokees and replaced by Lysander “Gray Devil” Cutler?I first visited Lake Superior in the month of May, 1857, in the interest of the Wisconsin and Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., a charter for the organization of which had been procured the previous winter.– This company was composed of the following gentlemen: Edwin PalmerGen. L
ysander CutlerHoratio HillJas. F. HillDr. E.P. GrevesJohn LockwoodJohn L. HarrisJohn Sidebotham, Franklin J. Ripley and myself. Elwin Palmer, President, J. F. Hill, Secretary – with a capital of (I think) $60,000. Our first agent was Mr. Milliam Herbert, with headquarters at Ironton, where some five thousand dollars of the company’s money was invested in the erection of a block-house and a couple of cribs intended as a nucleus for a pier – and in other ways – all of which was subsequently abandoned and lost – the place having no natural advantages, or unnatural either, for that matter.– But so it is ever with the first and often with the second installments that such greenies as we were, invest in a new country; for so little did we know of the way work was done in that country that we actually supposed the whole thing would be completed in three monthsand the lands in our possession. But what we lacked in wisdom, we made up in pluck — neither did we “lay down the shubble and de hoe,” until the goal was reached and the Penoka Iron Range secured – costing us over two years time and $25,000 in money.The company not being satisfied with Mr. Herbert as agent, he was removed and Gen. Cutler appointed in his place, who quickly selected Ashland as headquarters, to which place all the personal property, consisting of merchandise principally, was removed during the summer by myself upon Gen. C.’s order – and Ironton abandoned to its fate.“I remember very distinctly that the first stake was driven in the town of Bayfield by Major McABoy who was employed by the Bayfield Townsite Company to make a survey and plat same, (the original plat being recorded at our county seat.) This Bayfield Townsite Company was organized with Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul at the head and some very enterprising men from Washington D.C. Major McABoy arrived here about the first of March [1856] and made his headquarters with Julius Austrian of LaPointe. Julius Austrian in those days being the Governor General of all that part of the country west of Ontonagon to Superior; Ashland and Duluth being too small to count.  The major spent probably two weeks at LaPointe going back and forth to Bayfield with a team of large bay horses owned by Julius Austrian, being the only team of horses in the country.”
~ Captain Robinson Derling Pike (Bayfield 50th anniversary celebrations)
The company at this time having become not only aware of the magnitude of the work they had undertaken, but were also satisfied that Ashland was the most feasible point from which to reach the Range, as well as the place where the future Metropolis of the Lake Superior country must surely be — notwithstanding the “and to Bayfield” clause in that wonderful charter of H.M. Rice.The cost of getting provisions to the Range was enormous – it being for the first season all carried by packers – every pound transported from Ashland to the Range costing from five to eight cents as freight.Samuel Stuart Vaughn was an early businessman in the Chequamegon Bay area.This was my first experience at surveying as well as Mr. Sidebotham’s, and although I took to it easily and enjoyed it, he never could. He was no woodsman; could not travel easily, while on the other hand I could outwalk any white man except S.S. Vaughn in the country. He was then in his prime and one of the most vigorous and muscular men I ever met; but I think he will tell you that in me he found his match.Albert C. Stuntz kept diaries of his government land surveys between Bayfield and St. Paul.No record found for Frank Gale or Matthew Ward.  If you know what they were notorious for, please let us know in a comment below.By our contract with Albert Stuntz we were not only to pay him a bonus equal to what he received per mile from Government, but we were also to furnish men for the work and see him through. In accordance with this agreement some eighteen men and boys, to be used as axemen and chainmen, were brought up from Milwaukee who were as “green as gaugers” and as the sequel proved, about as honest. A nice looking lot they were, when landed upon the dock at La Pointe, out of which to make woodsmen. I think I see them now, shining boots,– plug hats, with plug ugly heads in them, (at least some of them had), the notorious Frank GaleMat. Ward and one or two other noted characters being of the number. Their pranks astonished the good people of La Pointe not a little, but they astonished Stuntz more. One half day in the woods satisfied them – they were afraid of getting lost. In less than two weeks they had nearly all deserted and the work had to be delayed until a new squad could be obtained from below.But I must close. In my next I will give you an account of my life on the Range.      J.S.B.