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Copper Markers Provide a Glimpse into America’s Past

September 9th, 2009 No comments

This article is not about markers made of copper. While many of the markers I found in researching it were fashioned from copper or one of its alloys, what really intrigued me was the copper storyline that emerged, the artifacts of America’s centuries-old relationship with copper.

Recently, in the course of one of those online meanderings we all succumb to now and then, I came across The Historical Marker Database (HMDB)Old Copper Culture Cemetery marker, an illustrated, searchable online catalog for people who like to share, according to the site’s tagline, “bite-size bits of local, national, and global history”.

The HMDB has hundreds of photographs, inscription transcriptions, marker locations, maps, commentaries, and links to more information. With one search, I knew I had hit pay dirt. I found fascinating remnants of copper mining and manufacturing history, told through the statues, plaques, monuments, and documentation submitted by citizen historians all over the country – and a great place to while away an afternoon.

The HMDB database can be filtered by state or country, historical period, industry, or some sixty other categories, as well as by keyword. My keyword, copper, yielded more than a few “bite-size bits” in which the semi-precious metal played a role.

These words are from a road sign in Copper Hill, New Jersey:

By 1816 copper ore was found here, and north towards Flemington. The mining craze lasted through 1865. It was never profitable, but gave Copper Hill its name. Erected 2009 by Hunterdon County Cultural And Heritage Commission. Read more…