Scrapbook IX (p2)

Continuing from where we left off yesterday, here’s a few more panoramic images taken by the Detroit Publishing Company back at the turn of the century. Remember to click on the picture itself to view the annotated panoramic!

Here’s an interesting look down the Portage from the vantage point of the hill across from Cole’s Creek and the Michigan Smelter. The smelter itself is not visible, save for its office building in the middle right. (This building is still standing by the way). In the foreground can be seen the Houghton Co. Poor house, or at least a part of it. Most interesting in this photo is the glimpses of the Atlantic Mill’s launder running out from its Portage Lake mill site towards Cole’s Creek. The long thin line running across the top of the water was installed by Atlantic to comply with the governments order to stop dumping tailings into the navigable waterway. They built this launder instead to dump their tailings down to the mouth of Cole’s Creek, a good distance away from the ship channel.

This shot is of the Lake Superior Smelter at Dollar Bay, a facility operated by the same Clark-Bigelow interests that were responsible for the Tamarack and Osceola Mines. Here ore was smelted from both mines along with a few other smaller independent firms. It replaced the Detroit and Lake Superior Smelter that originally existed down along Hancock’s waterfront. The picture is looking north-west, with the smelter furnaces sitting off to the right. The train spur in the foreground would have continued on to the Wire Mill next door, also run by the Clark-Bigelow syndicate.

In the most unique and interesting shot in this collection you can see a Mineral Range rock train steaming around the Dollar Peninsula on its way from dropping off rock at the Pt. Mills stamp mills. The photo is looking west down the Portage Canal, with the mills along Dollar Bay’s waterfront visible to the right. Most interesting to me about this shot is the glimpse it offers of Snowshoe Island on the far left. This island was later covered by the stamp sands from the Isle Royale Mill, and no longer exists. At this time, however, it was still water locked.

Our last panoramic in this list is this interesting angle of the C&H Mills in Lake Linden. This is the mills’ first incarnations, built entirely from wood. They would be later replaced by steel framed structures after the turn of the century. The Hecla mill is to the left, with its Calumet sibling sitting to the right behind the pump and sand houses in the foreground. The two sand houses – one for Hecla and one for Calumet – consisted of large water wheel like contraptions that raised the mill sands up to the level of the wooden launders before being washed out to the lake. These launders were extremely long, a fact this photo expertly demonstrates as it shows the Calumet launder fading off far into the distance.

There are more photos in the Detroit Publishing Company’s holdings at the Library of Congress besides these panoramic images. The LOC provides a way to browse them in various ways, the easiest of which is by location. Click Here to browse the collection yourself.

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  1. Hey Mike, that first panoramic photo has one more to the right.
    The Michigan Smelter, it has a different series number but if you look at the site I saw it mentions the photo, A Modern Smelter.
    I went and stitched them together and sure enough, its a perfect match. This link may get you there.

    Now you will have a dandy view of the west end of the canal

  2. I just can’t picture what you label as the Atlantic launder being the launder.
    I can’t picture them building it over open water, then filling and cutting it off coming back to shore.
    I would think you would start at shore and build as you fill in, a lot easier to build on land than open water.

  3. Gordy…

    WOW, not sure how I missed that but I’ll have to fix the panoramic now. Thanks!

    As far as the Atlantic launder, what you say makes perfect sense if the launder was use simply to dump off the mill’s tailings. In this case I was working under the asssumption that the one seen in the photo was used by Atlantic to transport its tailings as far away from its mill that it could, in order not to encroach on the shipping canal in the Portage. In this application I think it would make sense for the launder to be built out over water, it had to make it out to the new dumping ground as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    But after your comment I got a closer look at what I labeled as the launder and it still seems too far out into the lake. Even considering its purpose was the draw the tailings out to the mouth of Cole’s Creek the angle seems wrong. The things going out into the middle of the lake for goodness sake.

    But if not a launder, then what is it? Perhaps a scratch on the negative? Or a wave? I’m not sure and its now a mystery for me to try to solve.

  4. I did some searching for info there also, but it seems around the time the new mill was built and the new one opened, news was lacking.
    Also, the date shown for that photo would almost be 10 years after the mill closed

  5. When I looked at the photo, I almost thought where that wall/launder whatever it is starts from shore, that was the new dumping ground for the tailings, I thought they kept it along the shore rather than out in the canal. By the time they started dumping farther away, they knew the new mill would be built soon.
    Also for info, the Michigan Smelter opened around 1904.
    Its to bad these photos are so fuzzy.

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