At the Castle Walls

The sixth shaft to be sunk along the Mohawk Mine’s portion of the Kearsarge Lode was its last. It represented the epitome of the mine’s technological and operational hubris – a shaft which single-handidly mined nearly a mile of the copper rich lode – a portion larger the entirety of the Wolverine Mine itself. Such ambition required an equally robust surface plant, resulting in a collection of structures far larger and more complex then any the mine had erected before. The centerpiece of this industrial Mecca is the shaft’s engine house – a building that housed the shaft’s impressive collection of steam-powered equipment including its hoist and a trio of air compressors. All these machines under one roof necessitated a rather large building to house them – a building whose insane size and scope is almost mind boggling in person.  Especially when you don’t expect it to still be standing after a century of abandonment.

twowalls

Not only does the old engine house still stands, it soars.  While the rock walls of the Mohawk No.6’s boiler house were impressive enough, they were quickly drawled by the insanity that is the adjacent engine house.  In fact the word enormous hardly does this building justice, as its scope seems to defy comprehension as you find yourself craning your neck skyward just to view its top. The shocking juxtaposition is perhaps best illustrated above,  showcasing the boiler house remains in the foreground and the engine house’s domineering walls behind.

cornertall

Peering up to those soaring heights we could make out a building of great class and dignity. Like the boiler house, these walls were built of poor rock and featured creme colored brick highlights around the windows and at the quoins. Oddly the building’s workmanship seemed to diminish substantially as you moved up its height, as the upper portion of the wall was more crudely set and less tightly mortared. I would suspect however that this loosening of standards has to do with the building’s missing roof and years of exposure to the elements. The mortar along these upper sections have simply been eroded away by decades worth of rain and snow.

windows

Along these massive walls were a series of large window openings up on its main floor which a scattering of smaller windows littering its lower level.

basementwindow

Here’s a closer look at one of those smaller openings. While these most likely were windows, they could have also been egress points for steam lines or other utilities. Looking into this particular window reveals an interesting vista…

darktunnel

Through the window we find a long narrow concrete hallway heading out into the far distance, capped at its end with a makeshift ladder. It was the type of environment that immediately stimulated our explorer’s sense and beckoned us inside. Unfortunately between that hallway and us was a deep chasm a good six feet wide. Though some enterprising individual had provided us with a way in via a narrow board set across the chasm, we decided to find a less precarious way inside.

tallcorner

Instead we trudged our wall along the building’s perimeter, looking for a more accessible entrance.  The building’s massive walls seem to continue into infinity, until we finally came across a corner formed by a soaring column of cream colored brick. Moving around it we found ourselves peering up to the building’s narrow backside. Though narrow in width, this wall was actually even taller then the one we had been walking along as it featured the hight gabled end which once supported the roof.

tallwall

Instead of just two levels we now found ourselves looking up to three stories of rubble rock. A few more small openings on the lower level was joined by a trio of large main floor windows followed by another pair of smaller upper floor windows set high into the gabled end.

backwindow

Here’s a closer look at another one of those lower level openings. Peering into the darkness we discover that deep chasm seen earlier continued to line the building’s interior, making this opening yet another dead end when it came to entering the structure.

So our search continued on yet again and we moved along the soaring wall until coming across another brick-outlined corner to scurry around. Turning that corner we found ourselves peering out down yet another side of the building. This time the building’s soaring walls disappeared from view as the surrounding forest  side of the building was far more heavily overgrown the the previous two, the surrounding forest having creeped right up the building’s facade largely hiding it from view. Though camouflaged, the old wall did reveal one item of interest – a doorway.

thedoorway

The doorway was large, lined with the same cream-colored brick frame which also outlines the rest of the building’s openings. No simple window or utility opening, this was something built for men to utilize – set right at ground level. The column of light pouring through its wide opening illuminated a swatch of the thick forest around, and also beckoned us to head on inside for a look. It was an invitation we gladly accepted.

To Be Continued..

Take note that the Mohawk No.6 surface plant is located on private property and CCE was granted special permission by the landowners for this exploration. They are not however open to the public. 

Discuss…

  1. Per Dr. Lankton (during an SIA tour), back in the day a master stonemason and his helper(s) were expected to cut and set four stones per day on a “show” building like the C&H office and library. One would expect a bit more demand for output on utilitarian buildings like hoist houses etc., so 6-8? Looking at the work around the corners and frames of these buildings you see almost the same level of work as at the C&H office and library.
    Stonemasons were highly valued, when the mines were in the growth stage there was plenty of work for them and the companies had no problem keeping that skill in the area. About the time of the last big building phase, concrete became the material of choice and stonemasons began to fade away.
    I worked for DuPont and noted the large number of stone fences in the Wilmington, Delaware area. I asked around and found that the fences were DuPont’s way of keeping skilled stonemasons in the area between construction projects at the powder mills. Those skills were that important to them. The guys that built these Copper Country buildings were just as important to the copper industry.

  2. Could the top of that hoist building have had a few feet added to it?The material and workmanship looks different.They could have jacked the roof up and added more stone to the walls.They did this at the Victoria school house.Made a two story by jacking up the whole building and adding another floor underneath.

  3. Its possible but I don’t think that’s the case here. The building’s height matches Sanborn descriptions and you don’t see the same oddities inside. I think its just weather related, the mortar further down the building being protected by the rock on top.

    It also make sense if you consider how most CC ruins present themselves – usually with the top sections of the walls missing (those sections more open to the elements).

  4. Very amazing site. Did someone say that Mohawk is on private property and not readily accessable?

    Years ago at Adventure Mine near Greenland, the owner Jack Neph told me that the ornate rock buildings there were built by skilled stone masons that came from Italy. I wonder if this one has a similar history?

  5. The property is currently privately owned I’m afraid.

    As far as where the stone masons of the are came from, they surely had to come from somewhere. But I would guess that there were skilled masons from all countries, not just Italy.

  6. I had about the same experience at the Adventure Mine as Herb.Years ago the old owner told me the stone masons were from Italy and that there is one big foundation there that they built that’s three foot thick and now it was very deep inside and they were afraid somebody would climb up on it and fall in and not be able to get back out.But the stone work was so nice they didn’t want to bust a hole in it so they filled the inside with stone.He said one day he was going to build a house on that foundation.I never seen the foundation and don’t know if he ever built his house.

  7. My great grand father was a mason for the Quincy till the late 20’s .One of his early projects was the powder house in Ripley.He was from Germany .His son in law, also a mason at Quincy was from Switzerland.

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