As some of you might have noticed the posts here on CCE have slowed down dramatically and have been sporadic at best. The reason for this is the amount of time I have been devoting to those historic maps I’ve mentioned in the past. In the process of my research for those maps I have stumbled across a great deal of new information about topics I have previously covered here on CCE. Today’s information deals with the stamps sands of the Portage Lake region, and the old stamp mills that created them. (You can view the original post HERE)
In that original post I list five mills along Portage Lake: Atlantic, Quincy, Pewabic, Franklin, and Isle Royale. It turns out there were actually a few more mills in the area – more in the range of nine actually. Here’s a new map with the additional mills and sands in place:
In this map the yellow shaded areas are stamp sand deposits; the yellow squares are rough placements of the stamp mills that deposited those sands; and the yellow lines are the old trams or railways that delivered the rock to the mills. Lets take a closer look at each of these mills:
This is the first Atlantic Mill, and was in fact built for the South Pewabic Mine in 1867. After the South Pewabic’s failure, the Atlantic took over operations and re-opened the mill (along with the railway that served it) for its own needs. What I find interesting about this mill’s set up is how the rock bins and the mill itself are set apart by a couple hundred feet. The bins are atop the bluff (where you can see the railroad trestle in the photo above) while the mill itself sits down along the lake. A series of chutes allowed the rock to slide by gravity down the bluff and into the mill building. The Atlantic Mine must have liked this system because it used a similar approach in its new mill out at Redridge.
(Note: in the photo above the tramway seen to the right was used to deliver coal and other supplies back up to the top of the bluff for loading onto rail cars. It was not used for copper rock)
As far as the Atlantic Sands go there are actually two places in which they were dumped. At first thy were simply dumped up in front of the mill. After the government sued the Atlantic for dumping its sands into the navigation channel, it complied temporarily with the court order by sending its sands down to the mouth of Coles Creek. This created the second set of sands also marked on the map. Later the Atlantic built a new mill down at Redridge where they could dump sands at will.
Old Osceola Mill
This is one of the new mills that I discovered during my research that surprised me a little. Finding it involved a little investigative work on my part, but the clues were all there for anyone that was willing to pay attention. For one the point of land here is labeled on most maps as Osceola Point, which seems odd at first. There’s also a road near this point called Mill Road. After taking a look at the Sanborn maps I was confronted with a few more interesting tidbits, including an old RR right of way that branched off from the Mineral Range main line towards this mill (shown on the map).
This mill only operated a short time, before it too was forced to move by the government. The new Osceola Mill was constructed at Tamarack Mills and this one was abandoned and removed.
Starting originally as part of the Quincy Mine, the Hancock Mine was sold off to the Hancock Mining Company in 1859. It worked three shafts within the town of Hancock along the Pewabic Lode. The shafts were connected via a short tramway down to Portage Lake where a small mill was constructed. (Above is a look at that tramway, with the Hancock mine in the background) This mill had another short life, and was abandoned along with the mine around 1872. When the mine reopened several decades later the rock was transported via the Mineral Range Railroad to a leased head at another mine’s mill.
The sands deposited by the Hancock Mill formed a great deal of Hancocks waterfront – now home to several new condo’s.
The first Quincy Mill set at the bottom of a ravine which separated Hancock proper from the rich neighborhood of East Hancock. (now occupied by the old Chevy dealer’s building) This old map from the Library of Congress provides an excellent view of how it was once set up. The mill was responsible for the large section of land on which the current Ramada Inn and those new condo’s next to the bridge are located. The mill had to move along with the rest due to the government’s lawsuit. The new mills were built out along Torch Lake.
Pewabic and Franklin Mills
These mills are show above, with the Pewabic in the center and the Franklin on the right. While I had originally placed these mills correctly I had not labeled the corresponding sand deposits as accurately. I had mentioned that the Quincy Smelter was built atop of the Franklin sands – and it was not. It was actually built atop the Pewabic Sands, which makes sense considering the smelter was constructed before Quincy was able to buy out the Franklin.
In a more controversial decision, I have decided to label the Franklin Sands further to the east along the land now occupied by the junk yard. The reason for this is due mostly to the placement of the mill’s launder in the Sanborn maps I have been studying. Instead of exiting the Franklin Mill from the south wall (and out to the sands in front of the mill), the launder in fact exited the building from the east. That would seem to suggest that the sands in front of the Franklin Mill were in fact laid by the Pewabic and the Franklin sands were to the east of the mill.
Grand Portage Mill
This is a new one, and an early one at that. The Grand Portage Mine opened as the Portage Mine in 1853, becoming the Grand Portage half a decade later. It opened a series of shafts up the hill in the current city of Houghton itself. The old mill sat on the corner of Shelden and Portage Streets (hint hint), at the current location of the City Offices in the old Masonic Temple. Its sands make up most of the land on which the Dee Stadium and UPPCO building now sit.
Shelden & Columbian Mill
The Shelden & Columbian Mine was a merger between the once independent Shelden and Columbian (Albion) Mines. These mines worked the Isle Royale Lode between the Isle Royale Mine atop the hill and Portage Lake. Its two-stamp mill was built along College Ave in 1866 and was connected to the mine by a short tramway which ran along “Tram Road”. The mill only operated for a few years, but managed to create most of the land on which the current East Houghton Waterfront Park now sits.
Hopefully this post will help clear up a few problems with my original Keweenaw Sands Series and answer some questions along the way. I’ve come across a great deal of other new information as well, so in the next few weeks I’ll be posting some updates to older posts via the comments sections. Keep a look out for them!
Now onto our next exploration: the Quincy Reclamation Plant….