Anatomy of an Engine House

The Mohawk Mine would mine its Kearsarge Lode riches for 34 years, over which time it paid out nearly $15 million dollars to its shareholders. It was one of the region’s more successful operations, so much so that even after its closure during the Great Depression the Copper Range Company scooped it up with hopes that it could be re-opened and once again provide even more copper riches. Unfortunately that day would never arrive and the mine would stay dormant forever more.

As for the No.6, this was by far the mine’s most productive and profitable shaft. By 1924 it was also the mine’s only shaft, the rest of the Mohawk’s shafts having been all shut down due to diminishing returns. Unfortunately the No.6 would encounter a problem of its own in the form of some intrusive water seepage in its lower levels – an oddity in a region known for its generally dry mines. The seepage would hamper mining efforts and require the construction of a pumping station. The shaft would continue to be used for another half dozen years until it was closed along with the rest of the mine in 1932.

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Here’s what the No.6 surface plant looked like shortly after its closure. All the buildings are still intact, as is the shaft’s sprawling poor rock piles just to the south of the rock house. The shaft was served by a spur of the Copper Range railroad – previously belonging to the mine’s own Mohawk and Traverse Bay railroad. In addition to the rock house, dry house, boiler house, and engine house, the site also featured a coal trestle and a small reservoir to provide water for the boilers. Today all of these buildings are gone, having been torn down years ago.

Though gone, the grand buildings of the Mohawk No.6 continue to impress in their ruined state.  The most impressive of these is the engine house, an incredible structure whose soaring rock walls and sprawling concrete foundations is a sight to behold. These are ruins that greatly impress upon its visitors the sheer size and scope of the copper empire and the audacity of its ambitions. While our exploration of the site helps form this impression, its not nearly as effective as seeing the ruins in person. However since these ruins are on private property the next best thing would be a few scale drawings to help put the whole thing into perspective. Lets start with the outside.

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These are illustrations depicting the building as it might have once looked, when the windows and walls were still intact. Keep in mind that these are more of an artist representation then actual fact. And though I’ve taken considerable time to make sure the details are generally accurate and to scale, they are in no way measured drawings. But even with those shortcomings, I think these illustrations do a good job of showcasing the building’s immense scope and architectural detail. (since the building’s forth wall was missing, I didn’t even attempt to draw that one)

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Heading inside we take a look at a cross section along the building’s interior. Along with the foundations I’ve included some typical pieces of steam equipment, including a generic duplex hoist and air compressor. I’m not sure if these were the specific types of machinery which was once located here, but they at least give a good overview of what these machines would have looked like in place. While I’ve included the steam lines running under the foundations those lines were most likely used for steam exhaust and would not have been feed lines. The feed lines would have entered the machinery from their tops, thanks to a spiderweb of lines running along the building’s rafters. I’ve omitted those lines for clarity.

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A few more elevation views of the interior, this time from the perspective of the building’s opposite ends. On the top is slice through the building’s eastern end, where the air compressors would have been located. Below that is a slice through the building’s western end, where the hoist once sat.

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We move to a view from above, looking down at the engine house from above. Here we can see how the machines are laid out within the floors, either the main floor or the lower basement level. Today of course the machinery is gone, but the concrete foundations to those machines remain. It was around and atop these foundations that we had our explorations and its those foundations that largely remain of the building today.

Hopefully these drawings help give a better understanding of how the Mohawk Number 6 engine house ruins are laid out. In most ways these ruins are very similar to most other ruins found across the peninsula. An understanding of these ruins can help fellow copper country explorers better understand other ruins they may find on their travels and how they once may have looked with their steam engines intact and in place.

Discuss…

  1. Cool illustrations, Mike! It can often take quite the imagination to look at the overgrown and crumbling foundations we have left today and picture what they would have looked like when the buildings were in good repair. These drawings definitely help!

  2. Great renditions! They really help show the scale and layout of the structures in their heyday.

  3. Almost want to print them out and cut and paste the building together, now if Mike would only colorize them.

  4. Crayons, Gordy!

  5. Chicaugon Lake Jim

    This reminds me of the tour you gave us at the hoist house at Champion. The drawings do a good job of putting the machinery in perspective with the building. Nice feature.

  6. Kurt, I do all my stuff in ink, never make mistakes, cough cough cough.

  7. I suppose I could colorize them, and since I did them on my computer it wouldn’t be that hard. Perhaps in the future…

    Thanks everyone for the nice compliments. I used this post as practice for a book idea I’ve been working on, one that would require me to do a lot more drawings like this one. Working on a pen tablet is much harder then using an actual paper and pen, but I learned a lot doing these drawings for this post.

  8. Looks very nice. I’d love to see those in a book!

  9. guess its easier than on draft boards –t squares–triangles we used for drafting in 50s at school–also Chicago tech corispondence school–drawings

  10. Nice drawings,looks like dc had put on a little weight for those.

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