Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Shell House (p1)

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During World War II most civilian explosives plants across the country were drafted into military service, producing explosive shells and other military explosives for the war effort. The Atlas Plant at Senter, however, had never been converted to ammunition production. It served the war effort in another capacity, producing the …

Where Nitro and Dope Become One

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After the nitro has been created and neutralized the next step in the dynamite production process is to mix the nitro with a fibrous filler material known in the biz as “dope”. Working much the same as sawdust, the dope soaks up the liquid nitro and creates a gelatinous material …

A Walk For the Angels

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After being neutralized at the Store House, the nitro had to be then sent on to the Mix House, where it was mixed with the “dope” to form the gelatinous filler for the dynamite sticks. This was by far the most dangerous job at Atlas, as the smallest of bumps …

The Store House

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After the nitro was manufactured at the NG House, it was sent down along a rubber lined trough down to the next step in the process – neutralization and storage. Here the nitro was washed with a solution of sodium carbonate to further stabilize it for storage and transportation. From …

Where Nitroglycerin is Made

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The inherent danger in explosive making can not be overstated; nitroglycerin – the explosive agent in dynamite – is extremely unstable at high temperatures and highly sensitive to physical shock. The elevated and almost constant risk of explosion prompted Atlas to put into effect a very rigorous set of safety …

The Power Plant

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Of course being so far removed from the rest of Copper Country civilization insured that the Atlas Plant had to construct its own power house to provide the amount of electric power and steam heat a facility of this size would need. But besides the production of electricity, this plant …

Warehouse Row

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Though used as a commuter train for Atlas employees, the Copper Range trains also delivered the wide range of exotic supplies that an explosives plant required. These supplies included a wide range of chemicals used to make the nitroglycerine along with a series of pulp materials used to make the …

In a Place with No Roads

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The mine’s of the Copper Country were generally self-reliant except for three things which they could not find along the peninsula: coal, iron, and explosives. For that time these items were transported here from elsewhere at high cost to the mine companies. In an attempt to lower these costs, the …

The Calumet Depot

The first Calumet depot wasn’t in Calumet at all, but instead sat a good distance down the road in neighboring Hecla Location. While the Mineral Rang Railroad would reach the Calumet area around 1872, it found itself blocked from entering the village thanks to the swath of mine owned lands standing in …

A Cliff Ruin Map

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The Cliff Mine is probably the most explored ruins in the Keweenaw, for good reason. The sheer awe of finding towering rock walls and smoke stacks rising up within the thick forest here is something most of us never forget. Though hard to do it justice here on these pages, …

Drifts and Shafts

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In the Cliff’s infancy almost all the ground was opened up through a series of drifts that had been driven into the hillside. At the time it was believed that the copper was incased in the soaring cliffs themselves, and the copper-rich ground that the drifts were encountering were just …

A Hoist and Boiler

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The Cliff may have been the first successful copper mine in the district, but it didn’t happen without a few stumbles along the way. While the first drift into the rocky cliffs found great amount of mass copper in the beginning, those fortunes quickly dwindled as the drift was deepened. …

The Cliff Stamp Mill

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The Cliff Mine, several decades after closing The Pittsburgh and Boston Company had the distinction of sinking the very first copper shaft in the Copper Country, into the hard rock along Hay’s Point in Copper Harbor. This early venture was a disaster, costing investors over $20,000 in the process. But …

A Fallen Stack

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With the hoist and compressor foundations thoroughly investigated, we turned our attention to find the source of their energy – the boiler house. Old Sanborn maps show the boiler houses to be attached to the rear of the hoist/compressor complex, so we took a walk around the building to take …