Copper Country Scrapbook III

After finishing up my series on Torch Lake Industry, I think its a good time to take a break and let some of my readers take the torch for a spell. I have received a great amount of photos from readers, including the one I open this installment of Copper Country Scrapbook with. The photo above is of the Mineral Range Depot at Calumet, or at least what’s left of it. The picture is taken by Adam, a reader out of Detroit, who has a great eye for capturing the stunning architectural detail of this old decaying building.

About a year ago I featured a post about an old Trolley car rotting out in a field along Lake Linden Hill. (Read the post HERE) Gordy Schmitt has another view of the same trolley car – but he managed to capture it before it fell into the state of ruin I found it in. You can make out much easier in this photo exactly what this wood frame once was. By the time I got to it, that identification was a little more complicated.

Heres another old Trolley car, also found by Gordy. This one sits somewhere deep in the woods, well away from the old interurban line. This one looks to have been used as a hunting camp, or other rustic structure. While in better shape the the previous car, this one doesn’t look to have much life left to it either.

While we’re on the subject, an interesting ruin found by Gordy during his many travels across the peninsula. This is something I would love to check out, the old tunnel through which the HCTC passed underneath the C&H Traprock Valley railroad. Normally the HCTC crossed other railroads via overpasses, but here the Traprock Valley line was built after the HCTC was already there. The result was this tunnel, which was built most likely by C&H.

Here’s a closer look inside the tunnel, showing what Gordy believes is an insulated clip on which the trolley line was attached.

Switching gears we revisit a topic covered in last Friday’s post. Here is another view of the Quincy Reclamation Plant as taken by B. Groeneveld shortly before the building was dismantled. This plant sits on Torch Lake at Mason. Today just a series of concrete piles remain of this large structure. What I find most interesting is the name plate on the side of the structure: “Quincy Mining Company”. I wonder if there was a sign in front of the Ahmeek Mill that said “Ahmeek Mill” or something similar. Those old signs would be something to see.

B. Groeneveld sends another great pic – this time of the old Allouez-Douglass (Allouez #3) which I featured last spring. (check the post out HERE. He was lucky enough to be able to find these ruins in much better shape then I do (curse my age!). In fact, this shot was taken atop a poor rock pile that no longer exists! I love this photo because of not so much the mine, but what you can see in the background. I think the shaft-house in the distance is the Kingston, but the rock pile looks wrong. Perhaps someone else has a better idea.

Another shot of the mine from B. Groeneveld, showing more interesting details in the background. You can make out the church which still stands in Ahmeek, as well as the Allouez School (just to the left of the shafthouse) – which now is only a set of concrete steps. Very interesting.

We close up the post with another submission from Gordy, this one of the Ahmeek Mill. Here the mill has been dismantled but the smokestack is still standing. Not the case anymore. I’m not sure when the stack was finally taken down, but when it was it must have been something. The thing is HUGE. Dropping it must have been quite the technical hurdle. (specially considering how close houses are). Matching up nicely with this pic, is an email I got from Mr. Groeneveld who happened to have grown up while this mill was still operating. He writes:

It was awesome to see all the activity of the mills, railroads & ships of the C&H industry in operation surrounding torch lake before it shut down. Even though I was only 13 at the time I can never forget. When the Ahmeek mill was running the surrounding ground had a distinct rumble and the Tamarack mill was a sea of reddish gray mud sretching from the road all the way to the lake. My grandpa often referred that Torch Lake was nicknamed the red sea. Saddest days happened when the copper industry was cut up for scrap as the buildings came down with only foundations to remain. A time to be born & a time to die; but possibly rebirth? Maybe in a different form.”

I had a much different experience living not for from this mill some 40 years after it had been cut up and removed, but I also feel the same nostalgic feeling. Its the effect this area has on people – a ghost that haunts us throughout our lives no matter how long we have lived here. The reason this web-site was born.

9 comments

  1. James.. your story reminds me of an urban legend of sorts, when it comes to the reason for the Ahmeek mill’s current state of ruin. Supposedly the concrete was far too strong to take down, and they tried to blow it down to no avail. So they just gave up, leaving the concrete monoliths (and intact stamp) still standing.

    Its a shame that they didn’t leave the approach trestle intact though. That would of been something to see in person…

    Ian.. Kingston it is then!

  2. I am not old enough to remember much of the mining in the UP, but I do remember when they were scrapping out the Ahmeek mill and I remember when the stack came down. I am not sure how much of the Ahmeek mill had been scrapped out before this, but they were doing some scrapping somewhere between 1981-85. I remember going down to watch them work on it. The scrapping crews were using a large front end loader with forks on them to break up and move things. They broke the forks a few times and I remember my dad welding them up at our house more than once. My dad was good friends with the owner of the scrap company (Superior Crafts).

    I also remember going down to see the stack knocked down. A crew came in to town that specialized in knocking stacks down. They cut around the base and put explosives in to knock it down in a controlled fashion. It turns out that there was some trouble when they built the stack because they filled the bottom of the stack with concrete. The demolition crews didn’t know this until to late. The stack ended up falling the opposite direction from what they intended, across the road. For years afterwords, the road had a section of missing black top that was about 6 feet wide and the width of the road. There was a stack of rail road rails that was stacked up on the other side of the road. The blast from the air coming out of the stack when it collapsed threw rails a long ways. There were people all over watching, but nobody was hurt. I remember one guy who turned around as soon as the stack hit the ground and pointed to his window in his house. He claimed that the blast broke it. I was only 6 or 7, but it was obvious to me at the time that the guy just wanted the demolition crews to replace his broken window.

  3. The shaft in question is for sure the Kingston. If you notice, in the second photo of Allouez-Douglass, you can see the dry from the Ahmeek #3/4 shafts, but the #3 hoist house, which would’ve sat almost directly behind (to the left in this photo) the dry, is not there. The Ahmeek mine closed in 1965, and the majority of the surface plants at both #3/4 and Ahmeek #2 came down that year. Kingston was opened that year as well and was in full production by the summer of 1966, by which time nearly all remnants of the Ahmeek mine had disappeared.

    Thus, there’s only one real choice; it has to be Kingston

  4. There’s a photo of Ahmeek #2 at the Copper Country Reflections web site HERE. I’m still going with the Kingston.

  5. Ahemeek No. 2 I think looked very similar to Kingston, I have pictures but they are some where on a moving truck in between Phoenix and Marquette, I’ll go through them and scan them when they arrive.

  6. Well, after looking at the Terraserver, I will guess your right. Just trying to see things in the smaller photo is hard. But the old Ahmeek Mine farther east of the Kingston that would be a perfect match, although the rock pile is much smaller now, if any exists anymore. Wasn’t much when I rode by on the snowmobile trail last summer, more a big pile.
    Don’t know why, I had it in my mind that the Allouez-Douglass was farther south, thats what confused me.

  7. Gordy…

    Its either the Kingston or the Ahmeek #2, which would be the only options in that area. The rock pile is wrong for the Kingston, mostly due to being on the wrong side of the shaft house. But the shaft house is too modern to be the Ahmeek, it looks very similar to the Centennial and Osceola design which is also shared by the Kingston.

    My answer is that it is actually both the Ahmeek and the Kingston. The shaft house is the Kingston, but the rock pile belongs to the Ahmeek. The angle of the photo gives the illusion that the two share the same spot but the rock pile is actually further back in the distance.

  8. I don’t think that would be the Kingston mine in the Allouez-Douglass photo. Looks to far to the right of where it would be.
    Plus the rock pile would be way to big for the amount of time Kingston operated.

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