Tamarack Mills (in color)

While spending some much needed time cleaning out my inbox here at CCE, I stumbled across a collection of photos sent to me by Bruce Groeneveld of the Tamarack Mills (Tamarack City) in the early ’70’s. It was amazing to me to see the area with the Ahmeek Mill still standing, and in color no less. The Tamarack City is a special place to me, since living there for a couple years back in the early “naughts” (2002-2004). Sitting out on my front porch I could look out at the remains of the Ahmeek trestle coming out from the hillside – and it intrigued me from the start. Almost every day I would take the dog, load my 2 year old into the wagon, and explore up and down the old rail lines atop the hill. It was a fascinating place, one that restored my explorer spirit and solidified my love of this place called the Copper Country. From emails such as Bruce’s I now realize that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. Now on to the photos…

The first shot I featured at the beginning of this post was from Mr. Groeneveld, showing the Ahmeek Mill from the vantage point of the highway. This shot – also from Bruce – is a shot of the mill from a different angle. In the foreground is the Copper Range trestle over the Hungarian Gorge. Although the mill itself was still standing, the C&H trestle feeding it had been removed. (as well as the C&H trestle that crossed the Hungarian apparently, since it can’t be seen in this photo.) I’m guessing Bruce is standing on the approach to the old H&C RR trestle to take this shot, but I can’t be sure.

Another shot from Mr. Groeneveld, this time of the Tamarack Reclamation Plant. The plant was actually built by C&H, and was used to re-process the Tamarack and Osceola Mine tailings that C&H had acquired. This is C&H’s second reclamation plant, having already built its first at Lake Linden to re-process the sands from the Calumet and Hecla mills.

I’m afraid I don’t known who took this interesting photo of the Ahmeek Mill, but its something I just had to share with you guys. From ground level the mill was rather impressive, which it should have been considering it was over 8 stories tall. The mill looks closed, but the trestle is still intact. It must have been something to drive by this thing and under the trestle every day. Wish it was still standing by the time I arrived to the area.

This photo I found on a Tamarack City CD given to me by a co-worker. She didn’t know who made it, but that it had been given to her family years ago. The CD has some great photos of the area (in color) with the mills still standing, and I would like to share more. But I would like to get permission from the photographer first. There was no name on any of the photos, but the CD had the initials “MCL” on it. If anyone recognized this photo or knows who MCL is, let me know. I need to contact them to get permission to use more of these great photos.

While this one isn’t in color, its one of a kind none-the-less. This photo was taken by Steve Wall in the winter of ’70-’71, showing a Copper Range Baldwin engine running down the tracks up behind Tamarack City. I believe the train is heading north, and is just crossing under the old H&C RR overpass before heading out over the Hungarian Gorge. (although it could just as easily be going the opposite direction) Those concrete retaining walls are still standing at that same spot today – some thirty years later.

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  1. Yep — the trestle came off the hill from Hungarian gorge, and stayed at that elevation to enter the top level of the mill. If you hike along the snowmobile trails, you can find the old approach Mike talks about and get a neat view from that height.

  2. The approach is getting shorter and shorter though, someone is hauling the stamp sand fill away. He’s having a rough time though, guess he didn’t know a wood trestle was underneath the stamp sand.

  3. Does anyone have a recent picture taken from the same perspective as the first picture in this series?

  4. Ross,

    I’d gladly go take a photo from the same spot, but I can’t quite figure it out. I think that this is taken looking northeast along M-26. But I’m not clear about which item in the photograph is actually part of the mill the building to the left looks like the reclamation plant, but I’m not sure where that is today.

    If anyone can give me some good ideas about the location of that shot, I’ll go take a few photos.

  5. Its just south of Tamarack City, where the M26 does the jog around where the Tamarack reclaimation plant was. Some of the old buildings on the west side of the highway are still used by a construction outfit. The railroad track that crosses the highway used to into one of the buildings that still stands.
    I would guess its only a 1/4 mile outside town. In fact, I think there is a small wood bridge right under that switch that sends the track across the highway. You’d have a good reference to where this is, the bridge is still there. Don’t know if the map link helps, it would right in the middle of this photo looking to the northeast. Will be hard to do without any reference marks of where the mill was.

  6. The more I think about this, the less I think you can duplicate it, the tree growth is going block any view.

  7. Yup, I grabbed a photo, and you can hardly see anything (except orange barrels from the M-26 roadwork!). I made sure that you could see a bit of the remaining reclamation plant buildings, but even they are extremely hidden. I’ll post it tomorrow when I can get the photo off of my camera.

  8. Here it is, in all its glory: The same view, today. You can see part of the old plant on the far left, hidden by trees. Yeaaaaah… not so great.

    That said, I really like the “yesterday and today” photos. I’d love to see more of them, and I’m glad to track down locations and take some photos on occasion.

  9. Hi dc. I tried your link, but wasnt able to make the connection. I’ve always enjoyed comparing old/new photos, and am sure I’ll enjoy this one. Thanks. Ross

  10. Ross — as if by magic, I posted the photo in my gallery, and the server died. (That’s how good it is! :P) It’ll be up sometime soon, unfortunately the server is about 1000 miles away from me.

  11. Well, that was a shocker! I would never have imagined the change to be that dramatic — I expected a large city. Thanks for the photo dc; it made for quite a surprise.

  12. I don’t think Tamarack City is much different than it was when C&H existed, mostly the trees are a lot taller and maybe a few old buildings/houses are gone.

  13. Ross — yeah, things haven’t changed much. If anything, things have disappeared with the closing of the mines.

  14. After living just outside Chicago for most of my life, there are no large cities in the UP, now some people might say Marquette or the Soo or even Houghton, but nah, nothing is big up there

  15. Here in Lansing were watching most of the surrounding farmland dissapear in favor of housing and business. I guess that’s what shocked me about the photos; where once there was industry, there are now trees.

  16. Due to the amount of interest here I guess I’ll have to start doing more “Then and Now” posts. After this week’s look at the Mesnard I think I’ll throw up a few to satisfy the masses…

    As someone who is lucky enough to live up here, I take for granted that a lot of my readers don’t know what things look like today. I drive by them every day so i get use to it. Spoiled I guess. I’ll make a concerted effort to put things in better context.

  17. It can be amazing how fast “Mother Nature” can reclaim things sometimes. The before and after/then and now pictures are used very effectively at Fayette State Park, and are posted all around the park showing what it looked like in it’s heyday. I think this would be a welcome addition to your efforts.

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