Monthly Archives: January 2007

Left Behind

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The labored and prolonged death of the copper empire had been telegraphed years ahead of time. By the end of the Second World War the writing was on the wall, and the next 30 years was nothing but an exasperated epitaph. By feeding off the remains of less fortunate mines, …

Architecture Medley (p2)

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We continue our exploration of Hancock with a behind the scenes look at City Hall. This face of the clock tower has no hands. I don’t know if this was intentional or this side was used for replacement parts for the other three sides. Across the snowy valley lies west …

Architecture Medley (p1)

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Hancock, like most of the Copper Country, was born from copper’s bosom. From atop atop Quincy hill, the Quincy mine platted and developed the city’s infrastructure and in turn populated it with immigrants from all over the world. For almost a century the city lived in the shadows of the …

Civilization

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Changing gears from the northern “border-town” atmosphere of Mohawk, we move further south to the valley. That would be the Portage Valley, now the heart of the Keweenaw. The twin cities of Houghton and Hancock straddle the Portage shipping canal – long home to one of the most lively and …

The Missing Hoist

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There is a natural order that we have become accustomed to that guides our explorations. The first things we always find are the poor rock piles. They’re hard to miss. Then we stumble across the rock house. After looking around the rock house we usually find the shaft and collar …

Shaft Family Portrait

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Copper mining existed along the Keweenaw for almost 150 years (roughly between 1850 and 1995) During this time the technology, architecture, equipment, and environment changed significantly. The remains of the Mohawk #1 and its brothers represent the 2nd generation of Copper Mines on the Keweenaw. It was born from everything …

A Peculiar Design

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It toiled on the surface for over three decades, pillaging the underground for precious metals one loaded skip at a time. It worked an expansive and deep foray into the earth, judging by the two massive rock piles that now flanked it. One day it simply stopped. Now the meek …

Mohawk Remains

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Most of the copper mined on the Keweenaw came from a narrow strip of land only 25 miles in length. At the northern end of this strip you will find the relatively successful Mohawk Mine. This sprawling mine (all six shafts of her) along with the Ahmeek Mine to the …

Along No. 5 Road

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the No. 5 Road runs along the #5 rockhouse What was left of the #6 Rock House sat at a crossroads. Nearby was the snowmobile trail coming up from Traprock valley on its way north to Mohawk. In fact these ruins were being used as a makeshift sign, as someone …

Snowbound

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After oversleeping for a few months, winter has finally awoken here in the Copper Country. It hasn’t taken it long to get to work either, dumping a good amount of snow across the peninsula already. Earlier in the week, we took our first snowshoe excursion into the trails and woods …

Crushing and Sorting

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Mining is simple. You drill holes into rock, you stuff explosives in those holes, and you blow the rock up into smaller pieces. From that point on everything at a mine – people, machines, buildings, and railroads – all work together to remove that rock from underground and separate any …

The Tower

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Once copper leaves it’s underground home, it must endure a rather torturous ordeal before becoming a polished ingot. For most rock, this process begins long before the steam stamps go to work. The minute it is pulled to the surface – and before it even sees the light of day …

Mohawk or Ahmeek?

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When we first found these ruins just south of Mohawk (including the impressive hoist building featured yesterday), we weren’t sure what mine we had found. Being so close to Mohawk, our first thought was that it was part of the Mohawk mine. But there are two mines in the vicinity …

Inside the Walls

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In Hoist Building Lineage I discussed the styles of hoist building construction and how they related to the time period in which they were built. The detailed masonry work and artistic detailed afforded to this hoist building puts it squarely in the Copper Country’s more prosperous time. This building was …

Lost Fortress

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the lost ruins of a Keweenaw castle Sitting just off the beaten path and hidden in the thick woodlands south of Mohawk stands an impressive monument of stone and concrete. Like an abandoned English castle, this ancient structure lies hidden within natures foliage-weaved shroud. Fighting our way through thick underbrush …

Keweenaw-Land (part 2)

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Last week I brought you one side of a two-sided brochure done in the mid ’60’s to bring tourists to the Keweenaw. Today I bring you the second side, mostly consisting of a map of the county. A few interesting things to note however. It had been said many times …

Keweenaw-Land

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“Very few sections of the world’s surface are so replete with legend, adventure, picturesque romance, successes and failures as Keweenaw, the Lake Superior Copper Country.” By the 1960’s it had become painfully apparent to the powers-that-be across the Keweenaw that the end was near. The copper industry had been slowly …

Eliza Creek Mystery

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Eliza Creek in late summer Just a mile or so east of Owl Creek and the Copper Falls Mine flows another mountain stream meandering off the peaks above Eagle Harbor towards the big lake. This is Eliza Creek, and it flows down through the Madison Gap that separates Copper Falls …

Owl Creek Fissure

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The high rocky ridge that forms the Keweenaw’s “spine” is more segmented and fractured then whole. In places – such as the Allouez Gap – large sections of the spine is missing. In other parts, the spine has simply been broken into pieces by deep and narrow gashes called fissures. …

Looking Back and Forward

As some of you have no doubt noticed, Explorer is boasting a new look. As the new year dawns in the Copper Country, I thought it would be fitting to give Explorer a makeover to match. It’s still a work in progress, but by the end of the week the …