Calumet-opolis: A Guided Tour (p1)

Those high-res images from the Detroit Publishing Company are some of the most detailed looks at the Calumet-opolis that I have ever seen in my four plus years writing CCE. Its a resource thats far too rich to waste on just a few Then & Now posts. In fact the sheer amount of historic buildings and structures that can be viewed on these images deserve their own series of posts – a series that begins today. While I may have a few comparative shots of things as they appear today, this series main focus is to simply provide you a detailed tour of the Calumet that existed at the turn of the century. For those that visit the small village of today, its hard to imagine just how immense this place really was at its height. Hopefully after this series concludes you’ll have a much better appreciation. We’ll begin back at the beginning – at frame one that we first explored during our Tamarack Location tour.

Here’s that high-res image to refresh your memory. We’ve pretty exhuastively covered a great deal of this frame in our Tamarack Tour, but there are a few more landmarks I’d like to bring up today. We’ll start in the upper left corner of the image…

Far back in the distance you can make out a series of tree speckled fields, fields that my have been part of Section 16 Park. Section 16 Park sat alongside M203 just past Lakeview Cemetery and is marked today only by the ruins of an old stone fountain. I can’t find too much about this park, except for scattered references here and there. County maps from the middle of the century place a township park at that same location, though it has since disappeared from more recent publications.

Continuing to the right on that first frame we come across this interesting structure stuck smack dab in the center of Tamarack. This would be the Tamarack’s water tower. Since indoor plumbing had not yet arrived to Tamarack at this time, the tower was most likely there to supply water to the mine for fire protection. Seemingly supporting that theory are the Sanborn maps themselves, which show a dedicated 10″ water main coming down from the general location of the tower to the mine site. Water for the mine’s boilers was supplied by a reservoir sitting to the south-west in property now part of the Swedetown Recreational Area.

Next up we have the towering hulk – eight stories high – of the Tamarack No.5 shaft / rock house. The No.5 plummeted nearly a mile straight down into the earth, making it the deepest ming shaft in the world at the time. Its so deep in fact that it actually bottoms out in the neighboring Osceola Lode, which is why C&H would later use this shaft to dewater the Osceola No.13. Rumor has it that the vast wetlands west of Tamarack were the result of that dewatering process, but I’m not so sure…

Along with that massive rock house the No.5 surface plant features several more rather impressive structures – some of which can be seen here. The large building slightly to the left is the hoist building, while the smaller building in front of it housed the compressor. The No.5 featured an unique dual hoist system, with each hoist working its own set of compartments in the shaft (the shaft had a total of five compartments). This required the addition of those odd protrusions to the front of the hoist building, one for each hoist. Up on the hill overlooking the mine is the short lived community of West Tamarack. Though roads were cleared and land platted, the location never attracted too many workers and would slowly fade away. You can still see the road grid of the old town on aerial images, however.

Before leaving the first frame for good, we take a quick stop down at the frame’s bottom edge to view a close up of one of the Tamarack’s surface plant structures. For those in the know the identity of this structure should be clear – its a hoist building. (look for the cables coming out of the slot in the front of the building). Its location would make it the No.2 hoist building, but the No.2 already has a hoist that fed it from the north side. I would guess that this was the shaft’s original sinking shaft, before being replaced by its larger sibling nearby. Sanborn maps label this particular hoist as being a measly 600 HP engine, with the shaft’s actual hoist rated at over 2300 HP. The sign on the door says “No Admittance Except —-“, I can’t make out the last word.

Continuing on, we’ll now take a look at the second frame of the high-res panoramic. Once again our Tamarack Tour took care of most of this frames more interesting landmarks, except for what sits our along the horizon.

First of all there’s the remaining pieces of that No.5 surface plant, including its dry house and office. Neither of these structures still stand today, though you can still see the foundation to the old dry house alongside Tamarack Waterworks Road. That field sitting just in front of those structures is today taken up by Calumet’s industrial park. If the shot was taken today you’d see the fenced in compound to the new Calumet Armory in that field.

Moving further right we come across a scattering of homes on the south-west side of Tamarack Dam. Technically these homes are part of North Tamarack, though they sit a bit west of the rest of the community. North Tamarack was created to house workers for the neighboring North Tamarack Mine, specifically shafts No.3 and 4. The reservoir behind these houses was known colloquially as Tamarack Dam, and supplied water for the adjacent mine. The dam and reservoir no longer exists, in their place sits a large wetland instead.

To Be Continued…

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  1. That old stone fountain was a public works project and that use to be a neat place to get a cold drink of water in the summer, was shut down due to the water being contaminated and then vandalized. there was a brass sign on the back but i dont remember what it said and it is long gone now.

  2. I believe the second smaller hoist at Tamarack 2 is the man hoist (or auxiliary hoist) – dedicated to just hoisting men and possibly supplies. Both 1 and 2 had these, they were both 3 compartment shafts . Tamarack 3 was a 4 compartment shaft with both the main and auxiliary hoists operating in balance. The main hoist was a big Allis and the auxiliary was a Nordberg. Tamarack 4 served as the man an supply shaft for 3. 5 of course had the two big Nordbergs. C&H’s Red Jacket shaft mentioned in the Yellow Jacket series was a 6 compartment shaft with 4 compartments handling rock with the Whiting hoists and t handling men and supplies with an auxiliary hoist which was housed in a building northwest of the shaft.

  3. darrell – I have yet to actually go up to that old fountain and take some pics, though I drive by it all the time. I find it odd that when they realigned the road they didn’t touch the thing though. Must have some significance.

    But you’re right that the fountain and park probably had nothing to do with each other, since they existed at different times. But I think the old park must have been around there somewhere….

    Paul – It amazes me that these shafts – Tamarack’s and Red Jacket – had pairs of hoists handling the loading duties. That’s a lot of hardware! Perhaps it was more necessary in these deep vertical shafts where they knew from the get go that there would be a lot of rock hauling to do before they ever got down to the lode?

    ROC – I’m sure kids played around those things all the time back then, and probably no one got hurt (or sued)

  4. “It amazes me that these shafts – Tamarack’s and Red Jacket – had pairs of hoists handling the loading duties. That’s a lot of hardware! Perhaps it was more necessary in these deep vertical shafts where they knew from the get go that there would be a lot of rock hauling to do before they ever got down to the lode?”

    Just a thought, but could it be that lifting rock vertically requires more power than on the incline? I’m sure Joe Dase would know.

  5. I think all that big hardware was to be able to get a lot of rock up fast, nothing to do with digging the shaft, at least at Red Jacket.

  6. ROC …

    What you saw there was a spammers successful attempt to trick me into approving their comment. It was rather sneaky, considering they just copied one of my comments and changed the user name. If you didn’t catch it I would have never noticed.


    The Tamarack tower would be different then the swedetown one. The Tamarack tower is gone, but the swedetown one remains.

  7. Jay,
    Sorry I missed your comment. Usually its easier to hoist vertically, but it depends on the setup. What their thought was as Paul said “My Mine is bigger than yours” and set up for massive production that they never saw.

    I worked on what will be the biggest underground mine in the world (several years back), when a competing company began designing their mine, the design criteria output was rated to be bigger than the mine I was working on. Not because it made sense form a scheduling standpoint, or a staffing stand point (in fact they could only hold the production rate for a few years). People would be surprised at how much ego goes into sizing engineering projects even today, as opposed to engineering!

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