Scrapbook V: Inside Centennial

Our discussion of the Centennial here as of late has gotten a lot of attention out there in reader-ville. It seems that almost everyone has a Centennial Mine experience out there and want to share. After I featured Jay’s photos earlier in the week, I received a panoramic image of the site from Bill. Then yesterday I find this excellent collection of photo’s in my inbox – but this time from inside the Centennial buildings. In fact, the photo above is taken from atop the Centennial No. 6 rockhouse, looking out towards the Cliff Range on the horizon. These photos were taken by Yuriy Harmasz back in 2004, and provide a one-of-a-kind look inside these structures. (Thanks Yuriy!) So without further ado…

Here is a shot of Centennial No. 3′s hoist engine – at least one of them. Yuriy says that there are two hoist engines inside here. This first one is an electric model – which looks to have been used most recently. While these controls are different, the hoist looks very similar to the hoist inside the Champion No. 4′s engine house. Perhaps they were used around the same time.

Here’s a closer look at the controls for the electric hoist. What I find interesting is that the operator isn’t protected from the engine at all. At Champion the controls are set inside a control booth of sorts – complete with walls, windows overlooking the engine, and a roof. This one sits right up against the hoist drum. Doesn’t seem very safe to me.

This shot takes a closer look a the level indicator. As the hoist operated, the dial would spin like a clock. Different spots on the dial indicated a specific level. Here it appears that levels 31,32 and 35,36 were of specific importance. This dial is similar (but on a much smaller scale) then the one used at Quincy I believe.

Here’s the second – and much larger – hoist sitting in shadows at one end of the building. The photo quality is a little low (OK a lot low), but I had to up the levels to make it out better. The large asbestos covered pipe leading to it seems to suggest it was a steam hoist – but there’s not boiler house nearby so I have no idea how it got steam. Perhaps this was the hoist for the original Centennial shaft that sat here, and they simply just left it in place when the put in the electric hoist nearby.

Yuriy also took some shots inside the NO. 6 engine house as well. Unfortunately it was too dark to get very good pictures, except for close up’s illuminated with the flash. Here’s a close shot of the hoist engine – a Nordberg if I’m not mistaken. The same manufacturer of the massive hoist at Quincy.

Here’s the control booth for this hoist at the No. 6. And as it should be, its enclosed by windowed walls on all four sides. The glass has been broken by the walls remain. This is similar to what is seen at the Champion, and the way I believe was probably the norm. I’m not sure what was going on at the No. 3.

Now turning out attention to the nearby headframe of the No. 6 – heres a shot of the sheaves. These large wheels at the top of the rock house would transfer the hoist cables down skip road and into the mine. In essence the entire building’s main purpose is to support these wheels. In most cases these were installed in pairs – although this photo doesn’t seem to suggest it. The first photo seen in this post was taken from here I believe.

After climbing to great heights, we take a glimpse into the great depths. Here’s a shot down the shaft for the No. 3 – the bottom over a thousand feet down.

IMPORTANT SAFETY DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Mines sites are very dangerous. Do not go near shafts – one false step could be your last. Always heed warning signs and do not cross any barricades (fallen or standing) to get a picture.

12 comments

  1. How the heck did you get the picture inside the mine? and How is the mine not flooded?

  2. Either Bill or Herb (I believe) posted a link for a HAER book on the CC Forum. It says that the electric hoist in the second picture here was originally a steam hoist that was converted to electric power.

  3. Nope. It was worth a shot though.

  4. Jay..

    I gave it a try myself, but I’m just using Photoshop elements, not the full fledged program. They were a lot darker when I first got my hands on them. Unfortunately (like the idiot I am) I accidently deleted the originals that were sent to me – so all I have is these brightened versions. I don’t think that would do you any good.

  5. Mike,

    If you send me the pics of the steam hoist and shaft, I could probably really clean them up (and brighten them) in CS3.

  6. It should be noted that the collar of No. 3 is very unstable, I went down it with a contractor to inspect it, you can’t make it far as the water is only about 40 ft down, but the cap timbers have sheared. Also its full of a mold that gave me a nasty allergic reaction.

    No. 3 was only a back up shaft after No. 6 was in place, the open air operators area was very common, booths are to prevent distractions as noted already. There are very few dangers to being near an operating drum, Hoist cables don’t break as you are required to have a safety factor of 4 in the US, the few instances you hear of “Breaks” is usually the cable pulling out of the thimble, in which case the hoist operator will be out of harms way for the most part, the same wouldn’t be said for someone on the Sheave deck as that will see the most whipping, which will cut steel beams! I have seen pictures of a Sheave wheel bearing failure that occurred at an operation 2 years ago, sliced through the 11 inch I beams like butter.

  7. Duly noted, thanks.

  8. Tim — the Centennial #6 area also has some shiny new “No Trespassing” signs on it. I have heard that it was purchased by some sort of developer, possibly for a business. No clue what though.

  9. Excellent photos, except for that last one – yikes! Every time I think about getting close to any shaft, I’m instantly reminded of what happened to Ruth Ann Miller, and I keep my distance.

    Up until last fall, the access road to the Centennial #6 was gated with a length of wire. Of course, this never stopped anyone curious enough to walk in. However, I was just driving by it today and apparently the wire has been taken down and the road has a legit sign on it now, labeled ‘Centennial #6 Road’ or something like that. This is another site I plan to investigate in more detail some weekend this summer.

  10. I wonder if the room concept was more to keep distractions from the operator rather than safety, I would think if pieces came flying off the drum or the cable snapped, that room would be very little in the way of protection.

  11. Is it possible that the controls in the second picture are backup controls for emergencies?

    And looking at that picture of the shaft, I feel pretty stupid for getting close enough to take that photo last summer.

  12. adam from detroit

    oh god, thats crazy…

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