The Mineral House

After leaving the enigmatic concrete tub behind, we took a short stroll over to another large concrete remnant sitting atop the sands nearby. We had featured this before on our last trip here, but I had failed to take very many photos of it. Back then I resorted to drawing up a picture of what the thing looked like. Today I have a few more images to share.

Back then we weren’t sure what this monstrosity was, but now with the hindsight of a Sanborn map I now believe I know its purpose. According to those maps a structure known as a mineral house sat on the mill’s north-east corner – which lines up to where this baby sits today. The mineral house was were the retrieved copper was stored and then transferred to rock cars for transportation to the smelter. I now believe that this concrete monolith served a role in that process.

The structure is rectangular in shape, a good 30 feet in length and about a third of that in width. It looks as if it fell down into this position, considering how its sitting at an angle atop a good pile of debris. Poking around along its base we could find evidence support beams – or at least what was left of them.

By the look of these beams – especially the way the back one is bent down and under the structure – it looked like the thing did indeed collapse into its current position. But from where?

Sitting in front of the concrete structure – and almost perfectly in line with it – was this. It appears to be a foundation, consisting of a concrete floor and a short wall around its perimeter. A few bars protrude out of the slab in places, and running along the floor are two lines of brackets.

These lines of brackets are parallel to each other and to those short walls of the building. They sit about three feet apart and run along the entire length of the building, disappearing under the collapses structure on the far end. Funny thing is they look like they might have held down rails. Thats part of the puzzle. The other part sits along the concrete monoliths top.

Using a pile of concrete debris along the collapsed structure’s north east corner (more remnants of a building perhaps?) we climbed up to the top for a view of its top. From here the structures purpose is clear. Down its middle runs a concrete “bridge”, under which lie six compartments. Each compartment is slopes on both ends, and on their bottom the sides meet at a large hole. This is a hopper – used to store materials and then dump them down into waiting rock cars below. That means this entire structure was once a dozen or so feet up in the air, suspended above the tracks below.

Along the bridge were a series of wooden ties which were probably used to hold a narrow-gauge track. The track was probably connected to the mill behind us and was used to bring copper from the mill over to this hopper. This means that those lines of brackets below were indeed used to hold down rails of their own for the rock cars being loaded.

Making our way down to the front of the hopper we could make out a date printed in its side. It was 1927, which would place it at darn near the end of the mill’s life. The Sanborn map I have is from earlier then that so this was added after. I am guessing that this structure was built to replace the original mineral house shown on those maps. Probably in some type of modernization attempt.

Mystery apparently solved for now, we moved on to the mill itself.

Discuss…

  1. Nice addition with the larger photo option.
    I would also guess they clips attached to the concrete were for holding down the rails. But if they were spaced only 3 feet apart, that means the copper had to be hauled up top and dumped into standard gauge cars. The railroad track to Gay was standard gauge.
    I would also think, that huge concrete hopper was mounted with concrete pillars, those pieces of steel may have been reinforcing for those pillars. Probably explains the concrete debris underneath.
    Now that I think about this, I would almost think this thing would be covered. Seems to me they talked about drying the copper concentrate before it was loaded into the mineral cars to haul to the smelter. I suppose it was possible that would be the next step after this bin. Load the car here, take it up top and dump it into the mineral bin where it was dried and then loaded into the mineral cars. I do remember an elevator being mentioned to raise the car from the basement. Although that may heve been the older mineral bin. I would think this would have been the basement.

  2. Mike, you have email from me

  3. Gordy..

    OK 3 feet-ish (once again, not a ruler). Although it didn’t seem that there would of been enough room under this thing for a full sized rail car now that I think of it. If there was it would of been a tight squeeze. The answer lies in find what new additions were added to the mill towards the end of its life. The concentrate would of been first sent to a settling tank to drain off most of the water, but I’m not sure how it would be dried further after that.

    I suppose this could of been an intermediate step in the process, before going on to the actually mineral building elsewhere on the property. However there was no other large ruins to speak of in the vicinity. So I don’t know.

  4. Adam from Detroit

    awesome, that new photo feature is most excellent.

    and i like the recent focus on Mohawk. i still havent been there.

  5. Now I have to look for the steps in that part of the process, can’t remember if it was the Mining & Engineering stuff or a book. But I do remember them talking about using steam heat to dry the concentrate and using an elevator to bring it up to the drying bin.
    Part of the trouble for the end of that mill is most of the online and available stuff stops at 1922.

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