The Ahmeek Mine was the savior that C&H had desperately been searching for. As production began to wane along the great Calumet Conglomerate lode the company began a hectic search for the next great rising star. The new star – it turned out – was the Kearsarge Amygdaloid lode. Through a run of acquisitions and buy-outs C&H managed to take control of a great deal of mines working this new lode – one of them being the Ahmeek mine sitting just south of Mohawk. The mine proved to be a ringer, and soon was accounting for the majority of C&H’s copper production for the next 40 years.
The Ahmeek Mine consisted of four shafts – two of which shared a common shaft/rock house at Mohawk’s front door (shown in the photo above). While these shafts were perhaps the most famous, there was another profitable shaft in the line-up, that being the No. 2 shaft to the east of Ahmeek Location. It is the surface plant of this shaft that we take a look at today.
A good amount of the No. 2′s surface plant was recycled as a local industrial business some time after the mine closed and for the most part is still standing. Ruins are much more interesting to us however, and we happened to find some hiding in a thick wooded lot next to the old factory. Our first glimpse through the foilage took the shape of a concrete wall about 5 feet tall, dotted with a wood-cased window or two. It was when we climbed on top of this wall that the true scope of our discovery became known.
Stretching out from where we stood was a row of concrete foundations, all of similar size and shape. These were beds for large pieces of machinery that had been removed long ago. Sprinkled along them were the steel rods and metal brackets that once anchored those machines. At first we thought we were looking at one long foundation, but a series of dividing walls told us we were looking at three separate buildings placed up against each other. (check out the BIG PICTURE to get a better look) The one we were currently standing on we identified right way: this was a hoist foundation.
Besides the dead giveaway of its “H” shape, the foundation also sported two of these metal brackets that we had seen before at the Gratiot and Champion #4 hoist ruins. I think these brackets were used to support the hoist engine’s piston casings. (see my look at typical hoist engine design) In the photo above the piston rod would extend out from the casing to the right.
Dropping down from the madibles of the hoist foundation, I took a few steps down these stairs and found myself in the drum pit. The drum – if it were still here – would be hanging just above my head. This pit was most likely used to maintain the cable and drum. We saw almost the exact same design at the Gratiot Hoist.
Surrounding the hoists “H” foundation is a second concrete wall. The wall is the same one we saw from the outside and had climbed atop to get in. The wall forms a corridor around the structure – probably used for maintenance of some type as well. The building’s floor would have sat level with the “H” foundation above my head here – but has long since collapsed into the corridor.
Climbing out of the hoist pit, we hopped over maintence pit and climbed atop the next set of foundations in the row. These were difference in design to those of the hoist, and no doubt supported some other type of machine. Instead of the wide “H” shape of the previous foundation, this one consisted of two parallel walls capped by what you see in the next photo.
Large concrete foundations such as these are used for heavy pieces of equipment – massive machines like steam hoists. While not as large as a steam hoist, this foundation most likely supported a large machine of some type. My guess would be a compressor, but I can’t be sure.
At the other end of those long concrete foundations was this oddity. A concrete ramp angles down from the top of each foundation. My guess would be a opening for either a steam inlet or a compressed air outlet (if these foundations did indeed support a compressor)
That leaves one last foundation, one capped by a connection seen here. Its possible a steam inlet, but it sits directly in the middle of the concrete foundation. This one is a mystery. Its another large foundation for do-doubt another large piece of machinery. I just don’t know what it would be for. Besides a hoist, the only large machines in a surface plant would be a compressor, a pump, or some type of multi-purpose engine to run rock crushers or other belt-driven equipment.
These pipes coming through the outside wall into the building could be a clue. Looks like some type of water pipes, but they could have easily carried compressed air or natural gas for all I know.
Unlike the other foundations in the series, this one has a floor. At least what’s left of one. The surface is grooved to give the illusion of concrete blocks, but the whole thing is only an inch or so thick.
Without being any closer to an answer, we decide to move on. Climbing out of the ruins we found ourselves looking at a rather intact section of the outer wall – complete with a few feet of brickwork. This would be a common look for mine buildings after the turn of the century – poured concrete and brick wall. The polished poor-rock masonry of the previous century’s mine buildings had seemingly become passé.