Calumet-opolis: A Guided Tour (p2)

Turning to the third frame of our high-res panoramic we find ourselves looking out over Yellow Jacket once again, a place we just toured a few posts back. Like last time, we’ll leave the town itself behind and concentrate with what can be glimpsed up on along the horizon. Most notable here is, of course, the massive Red Jacket shaft but there’s a few other landmarks of interest to explore. We’ll start on the upper left side of the frame – with one of the North Tamarack shafts…

This particular shaft / rock house belongs to Tamarack No.3, which for all intents and purposes is the North Tamarack Mine. The No.4 shaft to the north-west (hidden behind the No.3 from this angle) never received such a massive rock house as the No.3, nor did it warrant a very substantial surface plant. For the majority of the Tamarack Mine’s life, the No.3 was its principal producer. The No.3 was another one of the deepest shafts in region, sunk nearly a mile straight down into the earth.

Not to be outdone however, C&H has a monster shaft of its own in the adjacent Red Jacket shaft. After a disastrous fire halted production along C&H’s main surface plant east of town for nearly a year, the company decided it needed a alternate point of egress to the conglomerate that could continue producing if the rest of the shafts were closed down due to fire. Since this new shaft would have to be isolated from the rest of C&H’s underground workings it was decided to take a page from Tamarack’s playbook and mine the lode at depth west of its main surface plant.

The Red Jacket shaft itself was massive, measuring a massive 14 feet by 26 feet. It’s divided into six compartments, two used for utilities, two for men, and two dedicated compartments for rock haulage. The rock house that tops that shaft is even more massive, measuring a hundred feet square and over a hundred feet high. Next door stands an equal massive hoist building, which thanks to the shaft’s vertical disposition could be built right next door. Like Tamarack No.5, the Red Jacket shaft utilizes a pair of hoists each rated at 2850 HP and capable of hoisting 10 tons of rock at over 40 mph.

That rail line seen in the foreground is the same line that makes its way through the center of Yellow Jacket, ending here at the Red Jacket shaft.

Standing next door to the hoist building is the Red Jacket’s boiler house, which is home to five 300 HP boilers. The adjacent concrete stack is one of the tallest in all the land, rising 260 feet into the sky.

Taking a look on the other side of the shaft / rockhouse (to the left in the high-res pan) we have a few more smaller buildings including an office and what Sanborn maps label as a general storage building. A century later, out of all these massive structures and buildings only that warehouse manages to survive..

Here’s that same warehouse as it appears today. Its definately seen better days and judging by the metal frame behind it I would say its most recent role was that of a greenhouse. Interestingly the building’s shaft-facing end has been altered significantly from its original condition – using matching sandstone no less. I wonder what the story is about that….

Continuing our pan to the right across that high-res image we come next to a two parallel lines of homes sitting out apparently in the middle of a field. This is Red Jacket location, a community of worker housing built by C&H to serve employees at the adjacent Red Jacket shaft. The location – and most of the homes seen here – continue to stand still today.

Pulling back slightly from those homes the rise of Centennial Hill comes into view along with the quaint little rock house of the Tamarack Jr. Mine. The Tamarack Jr. was originally an offshoot of the Tamarack but was later operated by the Osceola Mine (though still under the same Clark-Bigelow investment interests). The mine was not a producer, and by the time this image was taken would have been shut down for several years. The lack of smoke from the stacks would seem to substantiate that fact. When operating the mine’s two shafts (No.2 shaft is seen here) were connected to a shared rock house by a raised tramway, which can also be seen in the photo.

As far as Centennial Hill, its one of three hills that surround Calumet-opolis like castle battlements (joining Tamarack Hill to the west, and Swedetown Hill to the south). Atop this particular hill sits the community of Centennial Heights, platted by the neighboring Centennial Mine as a way to produce income off its non producing lands. The tall building on the far right (just about off the image) is the Centennial’s water tower.

That share rock house belonging to the Tamarack Jr. Mine can be seen on the left side of this close up pic. More interesting to me, anyway, is the silhouetted bluff of the Cliff Range on the horizon. The row of homes in front of the mine sit along the road to Centennial Heights and could be considered Tamarack Jr. location. However when the mine went under, most of these houses were vacated and left to ruin. Not a single one of these houses continue to stand still today.

To Be Continued…

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  1. Could it be possible that the water tower in Centennial Heights is the Cent. #3? The shape is right, but it may be too tall.

  2. Also, Centennial #3 had – i think – a larger, more substancial rockhouse at the time than it does now. The building shown in the pic looks more like the smaller wooden rockhouse that C&H built in the 50’s… the one that continues to stand today.

  3. These photos appear to be c. 1900. Later photos of the Red Jacket surface plant show a hoist house about twice the size of the still extant building directly behind it with a row of 3 pulley stands between it and the shaft house.
    By the cars parked in those later photos, I would guess a late teens – early ’20’s. I think at the time these panoramic photos were made the warehouse was still the home of the auxiliary hoist. The modifications to the shaft side of the extant building may have been due to the closure of the cable slots and the big center window. The Copper Handbook confirms that, at least as originally designed, one of the big hoists was dedicated to rock hoisting, the other to water baling, and an auxiliary for men and supplies. Very curious about the evolution of this shaft! By the later years the boiler house held 10 1000 hp boilers, Could the larger auxiliary hoist been part of the 81st haulage level project? How long did they use water bales? That doesn’t sound like a good way to keep the mine dry once the sub-shafts went so deep. Red Jacket eventually became C&H main production shaft on the Calumet Conglomerate, anyone know more details?

  4. As massive as the Red Jacket shaft was it still wasn’t even half as big and had less than half the horsepower as the Tamarack #5 shaft at 23′-4″x35′-10″ and combined 13000 HP.And the #5 final depth at a little over a mile, 5308 feet, makes that one serious hole in the ground.

  5. Do you happen to know where the photographer of this panorama took the shot from? Could you stand in the same place, and take the same shot with modern equipment? That would be amazing!!!

  6. It was shot atop the Tamarack MIne’s No.2 shaft / rock house – which of course no longer stands. So taking the same shot today would be a bit difficult without a really tall ladder – or fire truck…

  7. I believe that 260 ft smokestack was brick, not concrete. Tech’s Archive has photos of it being built.

    I had seen a 1942 photo aerial view of Red Jacket, your right Paul, it does have the bigger hoist house with the wire supports behind that one in the early view.
    I wonder if this was the man hoist? I found in one of the Stock holders reports in 1906 that a redesign of the man hoist was being done as the original wasn’t working out.

    Also a note of disappointment in one of the stockholder reports by Agassiz on Red Jacket being a failure in its original purpose, that of keeping the mine open during a fire, Hecla #3 caught fire and shut the mine down for 3 weeks, the gases seeped down into the lower part of the mine and eventually into Red Jacket, fire doors kept the fire under control, but not the gas.
    Also in 1903 they switched from the cage and car system to the Kimberly skip, they added pockets down in the mine that would hold 9 tons of rock to fill these skips.
    If I remember right in Red Jacket, it wasn’t a true hoist system like the other shafts, this one had a continous cable. The long building on the back side of Red Jacket held the tensioning device for the cable, the cable was attached at the top and bottom of the skip and via pulleys made a complete loop. It was called the Whiting Hoisting System.
    Here’s a link for a photo of the tail building being built.

  8. At one mile down i wonder how long it took the men to get from the surface to the bottem where the work was going on.

  9. What is the meaning behind the names Red Jacket and Yellow Jacket? I seem to recall seeing another color jacket designation on a map, maybe Blue Jacket.

  10. I’m pretty sure that “Red Jacket” was the name given to an indian chief (perhaps I recall this from one of Mike’s older posts about the naming of mines). I think that the other colored jackets just followed the pattern.

    Also, as far as speeds — if we estimate the Red Jacket shaft as 1 mile deep, and if the hoist operated at “only” 20 mph when moving men, that would mean a mere 3 minute ride. Probably a dark and thrilling one, though!

  11. Gordy and all,
    Red Jacket did have a unique hoisting system that was design by C&H mining engineer and, and later, manager S. B. Whiting. There were two pairs of triple expansion engines (Minong & Siscowit and Mesnard & Pontiac) that drove the hoists which had two very large pulleys that looked like two flywheels rather than a conventional drum. The system worked much like an elevator in a building. The hoisting cable took 4 wraps around the pulleys. I have seen diagrams of the system but don’t have a copy.
    The new hoist building was the auxiliary from all I have found. They may have needed a capacity increase as the other shafts on the load closed. The original scheme had Calumet #4 being used to supply timber to the Red Jacket shaft. Once the haulage level was complete Red Jacket shaft was the main production shaft, all the others between Red Jacket and 12 So. Hecla were having their pillars pulled. The grand plan was to use 12 So. Hecla for men and supplies on the south end and Red Jacket was to handle all rock and men and supplies on the north end.
    According to my Grandfather, there was a very scary incident involving the compartments served by the auxiliary. They were loading dynamite in one of the cages; one of the workers turned with a 50 lb. box and stepped into the other compartment – for some reason the gate was left open. This was, of course, fatal for the man who walked into the shaft, and the rest of the landers and laborers left the area with great haste expecting a big explosion. The dynamite was fresh and stable so it did not detonate. The shaft was shutdown for the rest of the day while all the sticks of dynamite were retrieved. I have not found confirmation of this particular story, but he was dead on with his other tales of the good old days.

  12. Red Jacket was the name of a Seneca chief who had acquired an infamous “red jacket” from the British as a gift, in gratitude I believe for his help in the French-American war. He wore the jacket all the time, so the english called him Red Jacket. There’s no direct connection to the Copper Country however, but in the Boston area it was a local legend of sorts.

    As far as the “Yellow Jacket” name goes dcclark is right; I’m pretty sure it was just a play on the whole Red Jacket name as a way for C&H to differentiate its different neighborhoods. In addition to Red and Yellow Jackets, there was also a Blue Jacket which sat on the east side of the village.

    Last year I put up a detailed map of the Calumet area labeling all the different neighborhoods. You can check it out HERE.

  13. More on the Red Jacket Shaft.
    I did some rooting around in the material I have and the net. MTU has a Nara photo of the Shafthouse as it neared completion of construction. It shows the warehouse/hoisthouse with one small pulley stand and a much smaller batter brace than the one that appears on the above photo. Photos taken during the 1913 strike show the new, larger auxiliary hoisthouse and the 3 pulley stands . The 1930 MINING CONGRESS JOURNAL which Robert L. Fox has out in reprint, lists the auxiliary hoist, operating in the west compartments, as “Delaware and Iroquois” and says it is identical to the hoists at shafts 4 and 6 on the Conglomerate and 14 and 15 on the Osceola lode. One suspects the 5 were installed around the same time sometime before 1913. The Journal states that “Minong 7 Siscowit” hoisted the rock though the east compartments. The center compartments were used for pipes and ladders. Since the 1911-12? COPPER HANDBOOK has “Mesnard & Pontiac” hoisting water bales in the center compartments (as designed), we can conclude that sometime in the last 20 years of operation they switched to pumps. The whole concept of using a hoist like that as a water bale is mind boggling. How did they handle the sheave(s) at the bottom? It would seem that it needed to be above water, but the JOURNAL artical describes them as being bronze. How did they fill the baling skips? Where and how were they emptied? Were there launders to carry off the water at the shafthouse? The fate of “Mesnard & Pontiac” was probably abandonment in place with parts being cannibalized to keep “Minong & Siscowit” running. More answers, more questions!

  14. Has anyone seen one of these bailing skips in person? A simple system with large ball check valves in the bottom of the skip would work but I have never paid close enough attention to the few pictures I have seen. I am wondering where did the water go so that it did not just find it’s way back into the lower workings to be bailed out again and again. Speculation and wondering.

  15. C&H dug quite a drainage system around the mine area to carry the water off. If you look at the aerial views you can still see some of the ditches running out into and through the swamps west of Calumet.

  16. At some point in time the C&H must have broke through into the Tamarack workings or did they wait until they owned it?Seems like some of C&Hs water would have drained into the Tamaracks.

  17. ROC,
    Once C&H gained total control over the Tamarack, interconnections were opened up. By the last years of operation on the Conglomerate, C&H was pumping from Tamarack 1, 3, and 5, the Red Jacket shaft, and Hecla #7. In 1930 C&H pumped 824 million gallons from those shafts. Since there were cross cuts over to the Osceola lode, some of the water came from there.
    In the mid 1950’s when C&H decided to reopen the Osceole lode, they dewatered the mine through Tamarack #5, which meant that the upper levels of the Conglomerate were dry too.

  18. In the film”Unwatering the Osceola” the submersible pumps at the #5 had a capacity of 16,000 gallons per minute and that pumping would extend over a period of two years.WOW.Water was pumped to Tamarack Dam a 63 million gallon reservior about a half mile NE of #5.Then let go down Hills Creek that made it’s way to Lake Superior,going through swamps and stamp sands.The water in the mine didn’t make a very good water level because the heavy saline water in the #5 would push the fresh water in the Osceola shafts up to a higher level than the water in the #5 shaft.

  19. If I’m not mistaken, that Quincy bailing skip that Gordy linked (or one identical to it) is sitting on the skip road in the #2 shafthouse today. Painted an orange color, as I recall.

  20. Paul,
    I imagine the Mesnard and Pontiac were conventional hoist set ups, as opposed to the other compartments friction setup. That way the twil sheaves for the other compartments would be above the sump, and the center comparments could have been used for the sinking buckets in the center of the shaft during construction, as you can’t sink with a friction hoist.

    Another piece of trivia, while friction hoists are more efficent mechaincally, they do have some operational issues such as difficulty in rope changing. Since the rope is not coiled on the drum but around the drum, often you have to change the rope mid shaft, or at the tail sheaves to insure proper winding around the drum (ie you use the hoist to pull the new rope around the system with the old rope as the guide). The thing I always wondered about is how the rope was tensioned, either at the head sheaves or tail sheaves, even today tensioning wire rope on friction hoists is a pain, let alone back then! Generally its done with take up sheaves in the head gear on a tower arrangment. On drum hoists, the rope is tensioned as you wind the drum, much simpler as the tensioning rig is not part of the hoist plant.

    Also these early ground mounted friction hoists made way for the tower mounted friction hoists used today, an example of this can be found at the Cliffs Shaft in Ishpeming.

  21. Allen,
    At Centennial, they cut a flapper door in the bottom of a standard 20 ton skip. The hinged itg wtih plate steel and used conveyor belt as a gasket. When the skip was lowered into the water, the flap opened into the skip allowing water in. When the hoist operator pulled the hoist upward, the door would close and hold the water in the skip. They did leak but usually the hoist speed was fast enough it didn’t matter.

    If they didn’t put a fill mechanisim in, the skip would float breifly before sinking. When this happened he skip would jump track and hang up which is a pain when it is under water. This acutally happed at Centeniial in the 1980’s/1990’s. The hoist operator tried to use brute force to bring the skip back on the skip road and tore up over a 1000 feet of skip road underwater. I guess he had played out that much rope in order to retention the hoist rope quickly as opposed to shutting the shaft down and pulling all of the rope off of the drum.

  22. Joe,
    What you say makes sense to me, but I’m not sure that they applied the same level of sense at Red Jacket. The 1893 Annual Report quoted in RED METAL states both sets of engines driving Whiting style hoists. The photo in Gordy’s link shows two sets of tail sheaves in the tail house. Another comment on the hoists was the only time the machinery seemed to “notice” the load was when a full bale was started. Your theory of the center compartments being deeper as a sump answers the question about at least keeping the bottom sheave of the rock hoist out of the water. But what of the center, baling hoist? The clue about the 7.5 foot bronze sheave kind of makes me think they knew it would get wet, but it also says there was a mechanism to take up as much as 11 feet of slack with that sheave. Lubrication and operation of something like that under water would be difficult now, much less in 1893.
    Finally, much is said about the Kimberly skips. How where they dumped? The baling skips are another question, in the inclined shafts they were dumped just like a rock skip, how did they get the water out of one in a vertical shaft?

  23. If the they used a hoist system similar to an elevators that must have took a lot of cable.Once we had to fire rate the 220 foot high elevator shafts at Sparrow in Lansing.We rode the top of the elevators to do it.They had six cables that went from the bottom of the shaft to the top that were off to the side and then to the motor and then down to the pulleys on the car and then back up.

  24. ROC,
    According to the write-up in 1930, “Minong & Siscowit” needed 6500 feet of 1.75 inch cable for the main rope, and 4900 feet of 1.375 cable for the balance rope. A conventional balanced hoist operating at that depth would have required about 10,000 feet of 1.75 inch cable. C&H seemed to feel the 6,500 ft. was a good deal. The main hoisting rope was replaced at least once a year and the 1.75 inch was not very common in that era. There was no mention about how often the balance rope was replaced.

  25. Paul,
    I am wondering if just the Mingong and Siscowit compartments were friction hoists? The reason is, as you mentioned Gordys’ picture of the tail house shows two tension setups, which would account for only one friction hoist as you need to tension both compartments it serves separately in order to maintain proper conveyance configuration. Add to this, the requirement for multiple hoists to sink a shaft this large, I still wonder if they didn’t just run a conical drum or a split single drum in the west compartments and the same in the center compartments to bail? The reason I think it may still hold water (no pun intended) is this photo:

    I don’t know what shaft it is, as the date is suspect but it would have been easier to cut the center compartment first to “sump in” and then slash the other two compartments into the sump. At the end you would continue to sink this way to create a sump, but your guides would only continue in the center. With this set up they would have only needed one tail sheave, as it only mentions sheave in the singular sense (if the other compartments they would need a sheave for each compartment). I imagine it would have to be bronzed as it would still be over the sump, and would be prone to corrosion by either occasional submersion, or the large amount of high saline water dripping on it through the shaft station.

    The way they would dump the skips and bails is very similar to an inclined shaft. The skip would ride the guides into the head frame, and would contact the stops. The skip bucket is connected to the steel frame work riding the guides near the middle of the bucket. The cross head is connected to the skip near the bottom, and continues to pull up towards the sheaves, creating a moment around the skip. As the hoist continues to pull upward the skip bucket tips until it is unloaded. As the hoist is reveres, the bucket indexes back to vertical and rides the guides back down. As you can imagine this puts ALLOT of stress on the head frame.

    This is a more modern diagram, but same concept, the difference is now we use bottom dumps:

    As for the bails, they would do the same thing, only they would have probably dumped at a lower elevation than the rock skips. It’s mind bogling to think of all the wire rope that was ever put down just that shaft, let alone all of the others up here!

  26. EDIT:
    With this set up they would have only needed one tail sheave, as it only mentions sheave in the singular sense (if the other *were friction hoists then these* compartments would need a sheave for each compartment)


  27. More Red Jacket:
    Did more reading on the net and at home, a perk of retirement. To me, the Red Jacket Shaft is a monument to C&H’s propensity to over plan and engineer during the boom era. It was built to handle 4000 tons per day but evidently never did. There were 2 large rock bins one east and one west, as far as I can find at this date, the west side was never used and the crushing machinery on that side may never have been installed. From the construction photos, the smaller drum hoist that was in the “warehouse” was, as Mike first wrote, the sinking hoist and, later, the first auxiliary using the west compartments. While the center compartments started out as a baling operation, there is documented intention to convert the center compartments to hoisting rock to supply the west side of the rockhouse. (Wasn’t totally wrong on that one!) We know this never happened due to poor ground and economic forces. Then there is the 6000 ft depth that occasionally shows up on old photos and documents. For many years I thought this was an error that was perpetuated through the years. But, the new auxiliary had a depth capacity of 6000 ft.. Since it was installed during an era of optimism and the Whiting system had an almost unlimited depth capacity, the plan seems to have been to sink deeper. It was a time before C&H controlled Tamarack and they were known to play a “mine’s bigger than yours” game with Bigelow et al. Again, conditions didn’t warrant further investment, and frankly, Red Jacket wasn’t in the best location for that. As to the hoists in the main hoisthouse, the 1893 Annual describes ” the Minong & Siscowit and the Mesnard & Pontiac, fitted with the Whiting drum system” I can find no reference or photo evidence there was a drum hoist in that building. The 1930 description of the Whiting system indicates only one tail sheave per hoist, the two Whiting hoists are then confirmed by the MTU photo of the tail house which show two tail sheaves. As to the bailing operation with that type of system, something both Joe and I have a hard time with, one of the Handbook reports said the sump was usually dry and the bails weren’t often used. Sounds like a deal of “we built this thing for the future, might as well equip it with bails just in case since it’s here anyway”. From my perspective as an old late 20th century engineer and probably Joe’s as an early 21st century mining engineer, such an expenditure of capital on an unknown quantity would be a career ending event. But, Alexander Agassiz has been long gone. Will have to hunt in the MTU Archives next season when I go up, perhaps there are engineering drawings or more photos that will solve the puzzle.

  28. Wow, that is unreal, but like you said, today you would never build a plant so optimistically today! I would love to see how they handled tensioning for both of the hoists, with only two take up sheaves. I can’t imagine the complexity of that operation and in particular the roping configurations (but you and several people pointed out C&H were masters of wire rope routing).

    4000 tons per day is very impressive for the time period, even today shafts equipped with two skips and a double drum can struggle to make 4000 tons per day…. IT was really ahead of its time, as today Friction hoists tend to be the standard for high production, I know of some hoisting plants that are sized to 60,000 tons per day plus (although I stress that none have been advanced past the drawing stage yet). Someday in the future I will have to share the trials and tribulations of getting engineers to agree how to make a 2000 tpd truck haulage operation work efficient (let alone a mega hoist project) , I can’t imagine taking a leap of technological faith back then.

    Thanks for the information Paul!

  29. Paul,
    By the way, you said you had once seen a diagram of the Whiting hoisting system? Well, I doubt this is it, but there is a more general diagram of that system on pg. 581 of the Collery Engineer. Here, as through the rest of hte book, they do mention the Red Jacket shaft. I found the book on google books here:

  30. Ian,

    Thanks! That is a great resource! I may have seen the drawing at a museum or somewhere. The interesting item in your reference is other companies used the system with some changes. The tail wheels at Red Jacket were mounted vertically rather than the horizontal mount shown, this was probably due to the orientation of the hoisting compartments to the hoist. Another reference in the book sheds light on the sinking hoist was a small Whiting hoist with 7 ft. 3 groove friction wheels. I had found no mention of this first hoist at Red Jacket and mistakenly assumed it was a drum hoist. This leads to more logic in the patch on the warehouse. The rope slot would have been vertical, and was probably located in what looked like a center window. The rest of the patch may have been a hole knocked in the wall to remove the old hoist.
    Again, thanks.

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