MinesMohawk Mine

Mohawk or Ahmeek?

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 of Mohawk, the other being the Ahmeek Mine. Looking at a map of the area, we discovered that these ruins were in fact right smack dab in the middle of both the Mohawk and Ahmeek mines. These ruins could be part of the Mohawk, or the Ahmeek Mine. Figuring out which one it was, required a little investigation.

As I have written before, the best way to find a mine was to look for the poor rock piles. Using Terraserver imagery (which you can view here) I created a map showing all the distinct concentrations of poor rock in the Mohawk Vicinity. This resulted in nine distinct shafts including our mystery ruin. We knew a few of these from a variety of sources, including Mohawk #1 to the north, Ahmeek #3/#4 off US 41, and an unidentified Ahmeek shaft just to the southwest of our ruin. As you can see in the map below, our mystery ruin (marked #6) is right in the middle of both mines and could easily be part of either. It could be Mohawk #6 as marked, or Ahmeek #2. To determine the answer, a little deduction is needed.

First, there is a defined lineage to both hoist buildings and to shaft/rock houses. Mines were numbered in chronological order, meaning the #3 shaft would be more modern a design then the #1, but not as modern as the #6. In both Ahmeek #1 and Ahmeek #3/#4, the hoist building was built from steel, a more modern structure. This would make sense considering C&H took over operations and ran the mine into the 60’s. However, our mystery mine hoist building was built of poor rock not steel making it older in design. If it were Ahmeek #2, we would see a hoist lineage closer to #3/#4 which it does not.

Then there’s the rock house. While each shaft should have more modern structures as the shaft number increases, there should still be a relative similarity in structure design between rock houses along the same mine. While we have no rock houses left standing at Ahmeek to compare, we do have the other rock houses along the Mohawk Mine to compare. In this case our mystery mine and the Mohawk #5 is of exactly the same design, too similar to be a mere coincidence.

a modern rock house design, similar to both the #5 Mohawk and our mystery ruin

Also, all shafts along the same mine would be connect by a rail line, used to bring copper rock from the mines to the mill. The existing rail line (now used as a trail) that passes through the rock house of the mystery ruin quickly turns south and away from the Ahmeek shafts. There is no obvious connection between our ruin and the Ahmeek shaft just to the west of it. There is, however, an apparent direct line between our mystery ruin and Mohawk #5 to the east.

A third clue lies in the geology of the Keweenaw. The lodes in which copper was mined existed in narrow bands roughly parallel to the west shore of the Peninsula. While lodes would zig and zag on occasion, they generally followed a pretty straight line. By connecting the known shafts of the Allouez and Mohawk, we can see that our mystery ruin follows more closely the line between the Mohawk shafts. If this ruin were in fact Ahmeek #2, the lode would make an almost right angle turn from here to Ahmeek #3 and #4. This would be very unlikely.

Probably the most compelling evidence of our ruin’s identity is the name of the roads nearby. The road it sits on is called No. 5 road, and the road directly to the west is No. 6 road. These roads were probably named after the shafts, and since there is no #5 or #6 Ahmeek (and if our mystery ruin was the Ahmeek mine it would be #2) these roads must be referring to Mohawk #5 and #6. This would make our mine Mohawk #6. Mystery solved, for now.

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  1. I would say Mohawk based off of your map and the map found in “Red gold &Tarnished Silver” you can pick a copy up at the AEseaman mineral museum found on the 5th floor of the EERC. tell them that Geoff sent you!

  2. Thanks Geoff, I’ll have to do that. Most of the research I do for this site is from materials I have at home or those I find on the net (which isn’t much). I really need to get to town and spend some time at the archives but I have a hard enough time just getting posts done in time. A simple map would solve lots of my questions….

  3. Also, it is inline with the lode, Ahmeek 3 and 4 were out of line because they were near vertical for the first 3000 feet, before reaching the lode and continuing at the dip of the lode.

  4. That makes more sense now. I had assumed that Ahmeek #3/#4 and Ahmeek #2 would lie on the same lode line. But due to #3/#4 being vertical to the lode, everything makes more sense.

    Thanks for posting such great comments Joe. As I said to another reader in another post, I had hoped that these comment areas would be a great place for some historical discussions and for people to bring to the site much better knowledge and understanding of what I was finding. Your expertise is a great addition to the site and I hope you keep on sharing. Thanks again.

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