Monthly Archives: September 2006

The Rock Pile

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the Gratiot Mine rock pile and Rockhouse It is a standard practice for us at Copper Country Explorer to climb any poor rock pile we find, and the Gratiot pile would be no different. However, walking up to the looming man-made mountain gave us some second thoughts. It was much …

Electric Revolution

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the remains of a power pole at gratiot For over a century, steam was king in the Copper Country. Fed from the millions of chords of wood growing across the Keweenaw, boilers bred steam to be used in almost every piece of equipment at a mine. Hoists, compressors, pumps, crushers, …

The Dry

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remains of a drain cover sit on a concrete slab Mining was a very dirty occupation. Working underground, drilling holes in rock, lifting and loading rock, dumping rock into skips; all this makes for some dirty clothes at the end of the day. To quell unrest with the miners wives …

A Shaft Building

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Our experience with shafts from Osceola and elsewhere has given us a general idea of what to expect when we find one. Generally they are marked with a barbwire fence, either on old rotten wood posts or rusty steel stakes. Inside the usually failing and fallen fence is a large …

A Mine’s Remains

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Copper mining across the Keweenaw shared a uniform approach toward surface infrastructure. Specifically, every mine across the copper country had within it surface plant three main buildings: the shaft house, the rock house, and the hoist building. For contemporary explorers such as us here at copper country explorer, these three …

A Modern Ruin

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the concrete remains of the gratiot rockhouse The concrete structure we approached was a more modern structure then what we have been accustomed to. Instead of poor rock and red bricks, this structure was completely constructed out of concrete. Two large concrete foundations, about twelve feet in height and six …

Three House Town

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a forgotten fire hydrant in the field I remember the hidden town of Gratiot along US41 very well. Every time I drove north I would notice a small line of three or so houses sitting far back from the road across an open field. Once I even drove up that …

Behind the Dam

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There are in actuality two dams on the Salmon Trout River. The first and older dam was built before the turn of the century, and was a classical style of dam construction used heavily up to the time. The second dam – the steel one currently in place – was …

The Second Dam

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There are actually two dams built on the Salmon Trout River. When there was but one stamp mill on the red-ridged shores of Lake Superior, a smaller and less technically advanced structure was used to dam the river. When the newer dam was built years later, the old dam was …

Into the Superstructure

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looking down the concrete foundation under the dam As we quickly dropped down into the river gorge the roar of the river ( and the rumble under our feet ) became more pronounced. The light of the day disappeared as we arrived at the bottom, and as we walked forwards …

Steel Dams

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Steel dams were an experiment in dam construction that had a very short life in the United States. Steel dams work under the premise that steel construction offers substantial savings in material and labor costs compared to concrete or masonry construction. The Redridge dam was relatively cheap to build, costing …

The Trestle

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The side road that we had turned onto turned into a parking area for a historical marker that we found overlooking the gorge. The marker denotes the dam as a steel dam, built in 1901, and nothing else. It was only later that we learned this dam’s true claim to …

From the Road

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The Keweenaw was a land tamed by steam. The rise of steam power in the nation corresponded with the rise of the copper mines in this region, resulting in a celebrated use of these technological beasts of burden. Steam engines were used in all aspects of the industry. They were …