the Centennial headframe, standing by silent

While the similarities between where we currently stood and the Kingston ruins to the north, there was one obvious difference. Here the impressive mass of the superstructure still remained above our heads. Probably a good 7 stories above our heads, the steel sheathed mammoth easily dwarfed everything else in the area. Its gray skin was bloodied by rust most of its windows had been shot out. Floodlights scattered about its perimeter that once lit the grounds up like a parking lot sat idle and bulb-less.

a broken window and bulb-less floodlight on the headframe exterior

more broken windows on the structures front

Its humbled exterior hid a less innocuous industrial machine inside. A series of chutes, sorters, crushers, and bins all worked in harmony to send copper (and as little of anything else as possible) onward to the mill. At its very top lived a pair or enormous wheels (called sheaves to those in the know) the transmitted the hoisting power sent up from the hoist building back down to the skips underground. The entire structure sat on a large bin used to store tons of copper rock to be dumped into waiting rock cars below.

at the top of the headframe, rope from the hoist ran through these holes over large wheels inside and back down the skip road to the underground

doors that once opened for an overhead crane (run out on the beam) once served to bring materials into the building from below

Imagine dozens of these enormous structures dotting the landscape, from South Range to Mohawk and everyplace in between. Now only four remain (Champion #4, Quincy #2, Osceola #13, and Centennial #6.) These are the last of a dying breed that soon may become extinct in the Copper Country.

once a common sight across the copper country…


  1. You forgot the head frames at Centennial No. 3 and Quincy No. 8 Shaft. Actually the beam sticking out of the head frame with the overhead crane, would be used for bringing in crusher parts. Generally mass copper was left underground at the operations unless it weighted less than 10 tons (the capacity of the skip). When it was loaded into the skip the workers called to the hoist operator to tell them when a mass was coming and it was handled at the collar. Generally mass copper wasn’t able to be loaded because the skip loading was done from a pocket/bin below the elevation of the shaft station (it couldn’t fit through the loading pocket basically). If you wanted to load mass copper you would have to call the hoist operator to tell them, spot the skip at the shaft station, actually load and secure the mass, then call the hoist operator to hoist it, and finally call the cage tender at the collar to tell him a mass is coming. This takes allot more time than just letting the hoist operator hoist rock up and down from the same points all shift long, meaning the delay would cause a sever decrease in production. For this reason C&H simplified the headframe design, this headframe design only had a poor rock bin (and a trip for it on the skip road), an ore skip pocket, a split feeder, two jaw crushers and the ore bin below it. No need for hammers, if it could go through the grizlies underground above the loading pocket, they could go through the crushers.

  2. Joe – True, however I wouldn’t place those two in the same category as the rest I mentioned. The Quincy #8 is more a skeleton then structure, and the Centennial #3 is such a tiny little thing (on the verge of collapse based on our last visit). As far as iconic images that represent the size and scope of the copper industry, only four remain in my mind. (I will concede to somewhat simplifying the issue however)

    My bad on the crane’s use. (at least I got its identity correct) I was basing that (as well as the internals) from diagrams of the Quincy #2. I had assumed, incorrectly, that more modern mines would share the same needs as older ones. As you seem to allude to, however, that perhaps most of these divergences are based on a tight bottom line.

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