From Our Readers…

a sight seen by many…

Probably the best thing that has come out of my experience with Explorer has been the contact with other people who share the same passion and curiosity about the Copper Country as I do. I am not the first to explore this haunted landscape and will not be the last. What draws me into the woods and back-alleys of the Keweenaw draws many other people from all around this country as well. Because of this, I have decided share this website with my fellow explorers and dedicated readers through a series I call Copper Country Scrapbook.

I know that there are a lot of people out there, some of which visit this site, that have their own stories and photos to share about the lost empire which was the Copper Country. If your one of them, and have something you would like to share please send them my way. This can be personal stories about the area, exploration accounts, ruin photos, archive photos, or anything else about the Copper Country and its rich history. From time to time I’ll select a few and post them here – on Copper Country Scrapbook.

On a recent trip exploring the Copper Country Steve King stumbled upon the old Arnold Mine outside of Eagle River. An old mine, the Arnold worked the Ashbed Amygdaloid ( the same lode as the Copper Falls Mine nearby ) from 1863 to around 1903. Over 25 million pounds of copper was recovered the mines single shaft – seen here. For almost a century the mine was buried by time, sediment, and foliage erasing it from view. In 1971 the nearby Jacobs Creek flooded, washing away the sediment and foliage and revealing the old mine workers once again. All that remains is a large poor rock pile, and this breather pipe from that lone shaft, installed with the cap in either 1903 or 2003.

I often get people writing me to identify ruins they have found during their travels, like Jay did about this beauty. This is the Centennial #3, just a short distance south of the Centennial #6 which we had featured previously here at Explorer. Jay, however, beat me to it by a good year. In my response I also noted the following:

“Since your pictures were taken the structure has disinigrated greatly. One of the main beams holding the whole building has snapped, and the entire structure is leaning to one side at a precarious angle. More fencing has been placed around its base to keep people away, mostly due to the fact the thing could fall over at any moment. Its no wonder though, considering the thing is over a century old (unlike its more modern sister shaft next door). We actually walked right past the thing to head out towards Centennial No. 6, but never stopped to take any pictures of it. We will have to return soon before the whole thing is gone however.”

Here is another great shot from Jay, from the same shaft. I don’t know what this is, but it doesn’t look like it goes anywhere safe. Jay has many more interesting pictures of Copper Country sights at Flickr; which you should check out by all means.

As a transplant, my interest in the Copper Country was an acquired taste through many years of college. To some this place is their home, and their parents’ home, and their grandparents. home. They were born with an interest. Such is the case with Carolyn who – prompted by my series on the Champion Mill – sent me this old photo of here great Uncle, Adolph Juntunen, with a neighbor kid, Norbert Puumla, sitting atop the “coal attics” near the mill. This is where the coal brought to the mill was stored before being used in the nearby boiler. You can make out Freda in the background. Carolyn has a deep connection in Freda where she lived in a house built by her great grandfather around the turn of the century. She remembers a home town that seemed forgotten in time, as she put it:

“Freda has changed so much just since I was a kid. I fear that by the time my kids remember it, there won’t be anything left of the history. I think my fascination comes about because I entered the area just in time to see the history rotting in place. The neighbor’s houses still stood but they were all vacant and starting to fall to ruin. The railroad tracks were still there, but no trains ran on them. The mill was still accessible (no fence) and the restaurant had just opened. Our family house still stood (built between 1903 and 1908 by my great grandfather) and we stayed in it! We could still go down to Beacon Hill beach (and see the ghost of an old railroad in the woods, part of an old stone dock that was part of the Mill) and Redridge Beach (ruins from the mill still stood).”

She echoes a feeling I have every time I go out into the Copper Country to explore.

This all brings me to this photo. This is one of the many old rock walls scattered along the base of the Cliffs at the Cliff Mine. But that isn’t what makes this photo special. Its when the photo was taken that’s important – April 21st 2006. This is the date of the first excursion I went on (and one of the first photos I took) for the project that would become this web site – one year, 227 posts, and over 6000 photos ago. Thank you again to all my readers who have made it possible. Here’s to you…

Do you have explorations of your own to share? Do you have old photos or memories of the Copper Country as it once was? Then by all means submit you photos and stories now!

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  1. Greetings from Lansing, MI!
    Add me to the list of folks who have made your web site part of their daily on-line explorations. I’m a 1989 MTU grad, and while up there spent many a weekend avoiding studying by wandering around the back country of the Keweenaw. Didn’t do a whole lot of traipsing south of the Houghton/Hancock bridge, so I’ve really enjoyed that portion of your site since I never saw much of that area while there. And your explorations of Cliff Drive, Copper Falls, and other places north certainly bring back old memories. It’s been several years since I was last UP north, but I can see that I’ll have to keep the Keweenaw in my future vacation plans.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Dale – Thanks for the nice words and your loyal viewer-ship, it is very much appreciated! It sound like you fell into the same trap as me. Tech should warn its prospective students of the allure this place has, because like you it certainly roped me in during my 4+ years.

    You interest in mines and sights south of the bridge is shared by many of my readers. I’m working on it. It’s probably obvious based on what I feature that my home base is the Calumet area, so we have a large concentration of places around here and along the Allouez Gap. The south range (from Houghton to Painesdale) is a little tougher to explore. Mostly because much of it is posted or fenced off, which we won’t cross without permission. But stay tuned because I have a very exclusive exploration of a Copper Range mine site coming in the next few weeks which you should enjoy.

    Once again, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Mike-
    LOVE your site, as you are aware! I think you’re new “scrapbook” is a wonderful idea as well. I have a ton of pictures from past adventures and this forum will give me a new perspective during my explorations as well.

    Just one quick comment on the Arnold Mine picture of mine you posted. For some reason, I interpreted the “03” as 2003….thinking that the flood that uncovered the old mine had been somewhat more recent. The fact it was really 1903 lends an entirely different perspective!!

  4. Steve – I hate to burst the bubble, but what you took a picture of may not of been the original cap. My sources give the mine’s original closure between 1900-1903, which made me think the ’03 referred to an original cap. But this still could be a new cap installed in 2003 like you had thought, which after writing the original post I’ve been getting a sneaky suspicion is more probable. (even more so now that you brought it to my attention) I think if Joe weighs in today he probably could shed some light on the age of this cap.

    Either way I’ll edit the post to add some ambiguity so I can wiggle out of it when I’m proved wrong :)

  5. POP…Pop…pop….sounds of a bubble bursting….no matter what, the discoveries of the Keweenaw are perpetually fascinating… matter which century is referenced!

  6. Mike-

    Thanks so much for your hard work on this site. I visit nearly every day. I attended MTU last year but have moved out to Colorado Springs to attend the Air Force Academy. Although my time in the Keweenaw was short lived, my interest for discovering the past through exploration has not dwindled. Every time I’m in the UP I go hunting for these old sites. I really appreciate being able to see the UP and all of its history even though I’m a few states away. Keep up the good work!

  7. Yes the cap is 2003, I was wroking for John McKana when he plugged it (the JFM on the pipe). Arnold has 2 shafts actually, this is No. 1 Shaft. The shaft was never capped and still isn’t because it the low point in the mine and there was no good place to put a cap. It was plugged with mine rock and compacted with an excavator. The concrete tunnel picture is a conveyor tunnel, there used to be a rock bin located above this, its covered by steel plate now. A feeder fed the conveyor which ran into the crusher building, feeding the secondary gyratory crusher. Ill have to get some pictures scanned for you, how do we submit them?

  8. Chris – It sure doesn’t take long to get hooked. I’m glad I can help you explore this place without being here. Good luck at the academy!

    Joe – I knew I was wrong! It was the JFM that made me second guess my assumption since I thought I had saw that somewhere else. Thanks for clearing it up (although this means yet another correction, I’m on a roll)

    As far as submissions I’m working on the page as I write this, so hopefully by the end of the day I’ll have all the information and procedures on-line…

  9. Ok everyone, it took me a little longer then I thought, but the Submit Page is up and running. ( you can find it along the options at the top of the page ) To make things easier on my, you can only submit one photo at a time, but feel free to submit as many as you wish. Don’t forget the story about the photo and if you know what it is of, by all means let me know!

  10. Mike,

    Thanks for including my pics on the scrapbook page. I check your site everyday looking for new places to visit. We’re going to be camping at McLain State Park in August and I’m really looking forward to exploring some of the sites I learned about here.

    Of course I’ll be taking lots of pictures with my new camera (much nicer than to old 2MP Cybershot).

  11. Jay – No, thank you for sending them to me! When your out exploring in August make sure to take some more good photos and send them my way, I’ll gladly feature them here. I’m glad this site can hopefully make your visit more interesting.

  12. Just stopped by the Centennial #3 today. The old assay lab there has been torn right down to the foundations. I suspect that the rest may follow soon. Anyone know who’s taking care of it?

  13. There goes another one. I have no idea who’s tearing it down but It probably has something to do with that new business coming in to the No. 6 complex. They recently re-opened that road (complete with sign!) that runs alongside the No. 3 and runs down to the No. 6. Funny though, I would of thought they would of taken down the about to fall over shaft house first, but oh well.

  14. That really bums me out. Centennial #3 is what caused me to really get interested in the history of the Copper Country. Even though I understand that it’s pretty much beyond repair and it’s a huge liability, it still sucks that none of us (or any future Explorers) will be able to appreciate the old #3 in all its dilapitated beauty. :(

  15. In R.L. Dodge’s book Michigan Ghost Towns it says the same thing about Jacobs Creek and that it had a 2.5 narrow gauge rail line called the Arnold & Eagle Harbor. The Arnold was founded in 1864 had its stock listed on the Boston Stock Exchange and had a capitalization of $2.5 million. It absorbed the Copper Falls Mine once and important red metal property in 1898. The Falls mine had worked from 1850 to 1893 and had produced 25 million lbs of copper. The product came mainly from the Owl Creek fissure before the mine closed it had paid $100,000 in dividends.The Arnold operated from a period of 1899 to 1893 and some 2 million lbs of fine copper says copper country historian G. Walton Smith. When them mining firm viewed further operations as hopeless it was moved, in 1926 to dispose of the property and C&H took over most of the track. And it also said you can see the site in a picturesque way from US 41 between Phoenix and Eagle Harbor.

    this isn’t necessarily all in order from the book it was made in 1973

  16. The Centennial #3 is still standing, or it was 3 months ago when i was there. you can still walk right up to it, and they still have the orange fence around it.

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