Iroquois MineMinesScrapbook

The Iroquois That Was

Apparently at one time it was considered “current” to name your capitalistic embodiment after a native tribe, considering the surplus of such mines scattered along the Keweenaw (the Mohawk, Oneida, Delaware, Huron, Seneca, Ojibway). When C&H decided to open up its newest endeavor north of Mohawk it didn’t want to seem fuddy-duddy so it too elected to use a native namesake, this time the Iroquois. The mine’s inception was nurtured by the high demand for copper and lucrative government contracts that the second world war produced, an environment that also produced the Allouez-Douglass Mine and the Quincy Reclamation plant.

Today there is very little left of the old Iroquois, only a small hoist foundation (electric no less), a rock pile, and a concrete pad that is home to a fine collection of old boot remains. (see my lone Iroquois post HERE) There wasn’t really enough to feature here on CCE, but thanks to good ol’ Paul Meier and his long line of explorer relatives we can see what we could have featured if only CCE existed a half century ago.

Here’s the Iroquois looked at some point in the 1960’s, years after the mine closed down but years before vandals and fires took their toll. To the left is the rather folksy headframe/rock house, while next door sits a rather elongated shaft house that looks like a miniature version of the one sitting over atop the Centennial No.2.

From the front the rock house it’s rather unique design is further amplified. What’s odd to me are the two sets of batter braces set at different angles to each other – it almost looks like it was rushed together without too much planning.

From the side the building looks even worse as if it was hastily thrown together with whatever materials they could find laying around at the time. I would go as far as saying that this guy is easily the ugliest rock house that I have ever seen. Its apparent that when this was built C&H’s better days were far behind it. Almost an act of desperation really.

The shaft house is a bit better but not by much.

Here’s the hoist building, which we couldn’t see in that first image of the site. This housed a rather small electric hoist, and today is marked by a rather unremarkable concrete foundation.

And last but not least we have the mine’s dry house. Its defining feature is the row of large vents in the roof, most likely to exhaust the steam and moisture from the showers. Today there’s only a concrete pad left of this guy, one that happens to be littered by a nice collection of locker doors, gloves, and steel toed boot remains. This structure is almost an exact duplicate of the dry house over at the Allouez Douglass (see it HERE), but that makes sense considering the two mines are somewhat contemporary to each other.

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  1. The Iroquois will always hold a special place for me as it was where I found my first ever piece of native copper near the top of the big rock pile. I am not a rock hound in the least. I was only there to see what kind of view I could get from up there of the greenstone bluff. But, low and behold I found what is still probably the nicest piece I’ve yet found (out of the hundreds I’ve stumbled upon since).

  2. I’m not sure how desperate C&H was when they opened this mine, they did have the wartime restrictions on materials to deal with. This type of construction was also common for the development phase of a mine. C&H had been in the business long enough to avoid mistakes like the Arcadian venture. If you look closely at the shafthouse, you can see that provisions were made for a second skipway. The second set of batter braces probably were added later as the building exceeded its planned life. The large steel-clad collar house was also large enough for two skipways and handling all the material used in a sinking operation, it was typical of mid-century construction and points to pre-planning for future expansion. The two rail loading spurs also indicate they had bigger plans. When I took these photos in about 1965, the mine was not closed that long, it had operated during the ’50’s and had one of the nice signs C&H posted when corporate pride was still in effect. Like many mines that start with high hopes, the Iroquois reality was there were not enough commercial values to warrant further investment.

    1. paul–they drfted long ways north on 6th level of iroquios—nothing worth mining—workers there in jan 1944 were–geo deridder–j sowden—fred Carlson–w Edwards–a kaupala–e impola–glen ringler–karl parks–think it was his son at Kingston that ran the raise for ventilation and broke through on copper city road from 3rd level–vis said we don’t care where we break through we need ventilation–I worked there that night shift his raise hit broken rock with san showing–he didn’t drill just planted a bomb and blasted thatracy mine in Negaunee–t—we had sand–top soil–blacktop—strawberry plants on 3rd level–water main to copper city broke and washed it all into the mine–think school buss just crossed before the road caved–others at iroquios 1944 were e turvouinemi–glen beaton–c kopatich–louie pastor–was my boss for while—axel dryge–later worked at tracy mine in Negaunee–p giiiachino—e plante— some others there werej goraznih—giles blau–h jeannotti– m verbanic—j heikka—d heikkenen—c siiira j speitzer—-extra note for this post—although most of miners from yrs back were actually poorer guys–in all the old pictures you see from very lond ago–they all took pride in there clothes they wore out in public–suits–tys–hats–mabe gold watch with cain–and women wore niice feathered hats long dresses–reason youd see on 5th st sidwalks–don’t spit on walks—lot diff now with there boughton torn jeans ect by choice and bleached to look old and worn—tony

  3. Very cool. I agree — not a pretty rockhouse. But with wartime restrictions, you used what you had available. The Iroquois is one I always wish I could have seen more of — since it WAS developed (as we can see here), but almost nothing is left.

  4. It looks to be made of nothing but wood and tar paper… geez, no wonder there’s nothing left of it. But, contrary to popular opinion, i think this is a cool-looking rock house. Of course C&H’s choice of materials wasn’t the best, and it looks as if it could’ve collapsed had you put too many people in the thing, but design wise it’s one of my favorite, along with N. Kearsarge #1, Centennial #2, and Hancock #2. I’m just sad that there’s absolutely nothing left to visit today.

  5. Techs archive has a set of 24 or 26 photos of the start of this mine, mostly the digging portion.
    If you do a search with “Building a New Mine” in quotes they should come up.
    Nice photos Paul, wish I had stuff like this to use.
    The rockhouse at Alloeuz-Douglas was not much better looking either.

  6. During that time, tar paper was a common “underlayment” for whatever siding went on a structure – steel, asbestos shingles, etc. It was also not uncommon to see a structure sit without it’s permanent siding installed. Usually the original intent would have been to install it “later”, either because they didn’t get the original construction done before winter, or they ran out of money, etc. And then “later” never came. Can’t say why it would have been left that way at Iroquois, unless it didn’t last long enough to get it’s cladding, or for the “temporary” shafthouse to be replaced by a permanent structure.
    This happened to a friend of my family. They built a new house in the late 60’s when they had one child. The house was framed and covered in tarpaper, with rooms set up in the basement for living while the rest of the house was finished. Then more children came along, and the husband lost his job and struggled to find work. The result was that the house waited until sometime in the 90’s (lived in continuously by the family) before it finally got its external cladding.

  7. Gordy,
    Thanks for the link. It gives a nice view of a 3 compartment (2 skipways and a utility/ladder compartment) shaft under construction.

    I have been reading a book on the Gilpin Gold district in Colorado. Tar paper seemed to be the siding of choice on the shafthouses and mills there even through the 19 teens. They used it over the wood siding for much the same reason as the Copper Country, keeping wind ans snow out. Usually the wood siding was just a layer of boards over the studs or frame so some sort of wind break was needed. From the point of view of a capital saving manager, tar paper was much cheaper than another layer of wood and paint. During the ’40’s and ’50’s a popular home improvement was Insulbrick which was essentially tar based shingle material textured to look like brick – just a step above the Iroquois tar paper. Had the Iroquis proved out as a long term commercial lode, it is pretty safe to speculate the permanent surface plant would have looked like Osceola, Centennial, and Kingston.
    One amusing part of the tar paper issue is C&H was very firm about prohibiting tar paper on any structure built on leased C&H lots for “camps” (the mid-century term for summer cottages).

  8. Paul makes an interesting point about C&H avoiding failure while still allowing for expansion. This thought process began in the early 1900’s as shafts such at 17 shaft were built with a two skip road collar, but the shaft was sunk with one skip road and a utility compartment. The logic was it was easier to slash a shaft for the additional road later if your collar could support it up front. Also the simpler the head frame the easier it is to replace, even today you will often design a new head frame to be built around the existing because you can’t afford to take a shaft down at any point.

    They continued this “most bang for the buck” thought process with their later steel head frame designs at Osceola 13, Centennial 6 and Kingston, as these were surface plants that were relatively easy to disassemble and reassemble and could be moved from site to site… In theory but never practiced!

  9. Nice to see pictures of this mine. My grandfather Axel Carlson was one of the people to sink the shaft to this mine. I stood at the top of the shaft many times waiting to see the lights on the miners helmets when the man car was was bringing the miners up at the end of a shift. My grandfather retired from this mine.Sure brings back a lot of memories when I was young.

    1. dave new axel very well from work–also your dad if hes dave that also worked at iroquios and your mother was an aho–in fact they lived in maggi walz building across from our house on pine st–mabe you were born there –?tony

  10. iroquios dry house-there wernt any showers in it–they had like horse trough about 30 ft long with hot–cold olt time fausetts along top center–the white was pans were piled up by dry men at that time ed newmen–paty shane–spelling–he lived on calumet ave right off pine st–next to where they had and old mine collar from calumet mine reblocked few yrs ago–when they built new oseola–Kinston–centennial 6 mine they got modern–lot of showers–lot of us stayed extra 1/2 hr thawing out our frozon bones–lot Kingston was shallow ice boc to work in as was top levels of new no 6 centennial–I know for sure theres a big stope scrapper left on 10th level north in iroquios–we forgot to bring it out shaft–and jako mc clennen said don’t say anything—jacko died recently–most iroquios workers are gone noe–theres a hunala living yet farm back of swedtown-when your 77 most of guys you worked with –7 mines 23 yrs and 20 yrs open pit lot are gone–my great uncle was killed in no.4 tamarack mine sinking shaft age 20 in 1896–that’s mine the miller girl fell into in 1966–my dad was killed in kearsarge no 4 greaseing old wood shaft rollers–he was 62 in 1953–my wifes unc rudy klobuchar was gassed at meadow mine–garden city road—max rouch told me if he hadn’t gone for his army exam he would have been with him–they worked at iroquios and were sent there pumping out water to investigate the old mine–gasoline pump–then my wifes alden–onion–klobuchar–rudys son –we started same day diff mines he went centennial 2–feb 16 1956–he just got out of marine corps –6 months later kidded by rock coming down stope–he was in tram car–hit in head–don lohman from albion found him—–wonder why theres not some memorial stone with names of men killed at cemetery–names are at mich tech archives–they spent millions fixing up old buildings in calumet for national park–don’t think stone would cost to much////TONY

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