What Might Have Been In Clifton On The French River


I’d never noticed this marker along the Expressway between Duluth and Two Harbors until a detour took me by it. I usually take the scenic route (duh), so I can gaze at the lake. Once I pass through Duluth, I know two things: I’m living on my own time and that the lake will drain away all of my stress. Since I was living on my own time, I stopped at the roadside marker to learn something new.

This was the place where a town named Clifton (almost) became part of the mining boom. So picture this, Clifton was platted just west of the mouth of the French River along the north shore of Lake Superior in 1855. Heavy copper prospecting in the area kicked town planning into high gear. Still, it wasn’t long before prospecting and planning both came to a stop.

The North Shore Mining Company decided that the amount of available copper here wouldn’t be worth mining, and they moved on. Extensive logging took place in the area in the 1880s, and then the hope of a town named Clifton was lost to the memories of the north shore’s earliest settlers.

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