Calumet-opolis: A Guided Tour (p3)

As we turn eastward on our tour we begin to look out over the Keweenaw’s geological backbone, consisting of not only C&H’s profitable conglomerate lode, but the neighboring Osceola and Kearsarge lodes as well. Because of this the horizon here begins to fill up rather rapidly with shaft houses, to the point where they all seem to run together into one sprawling mining plant. We also find ourselves looking out at the outskirts of Red Jacket’s village limits as well, which means an uptake in the amount of homes scattered about. We’ll start out tour at Calumet Dam – up at the top middle of the photo…

Calumet Dam owns its existence to Calumet MIne, which crated the reservoir to provide water for its newly erected stamp mill. The mill would become abandoned in favor of a new and more efficient mill down on Torch Lake, but the lake itself would remain as a convenient source of water for both fire protection. (check out my write up on the dam itself HERE). Also remaining was the old mill’s pump and boiler houses, a pair of large stone structures that are featured prominently in the above close-up. While the pump house itself no longer stands, its boiler house accompaniment still stands. (check out what remains HERE)

Up behind the dam stands one of the many ten shafts of the Centennial Mine. An equal opportunity pillager, the Centennial sunk shafts in any lode it could find, including the conglomerate as well as the Osceola and Kearsarge amygdaloids. In total the Centennial would end up having eleven shafts under its control, but only the Kearsarge shafts would prove to be of any profitable merit. The shaft seen in the photo above I believe is a conglomerate shaft, probably the No.3.

Continuing to the right we run into a large open field just east of the dam. This land is relatively bare except for a single man-made structure which looks to resemble a powder house. Considering its location the powder house must have belonged to either the C&H or the Centennial Mine. Unfortunately I haven’t been out to this spot myself so I’m not sure if any piece of it still remains, but considering the type of structure it was I wouldn’t be surprised if parts of its are still sitting out in that field (now covered in trees). Next door you can make out a large section of snow fencing which protects the adjacent Copper Range mainline from blowing snow.

Also seen in this image is what I believe to be a shaft house from the Wolverine Mine (probably No.4) along with the roof and upper floor of the Centennial School. The Centennial School served the community of Centennial along the highway, and amazingly continues to cate to local children as a BHK Child Development Center.

Probably one of the most interesting landmarks visible in this particular frame of the high-res panoramic – at least in my opinion – is the massive structure sprawled across the right side of this close-up. This wooden trestle belonged to the interurban railroad, also known as the Houghton County Traction Company. Supposedly state law forbid commuter rail lines from crossing freight lines at grade, so the HCTC had to build these elaborate trestles whenever their line crossed another railroad’s right-of-way. This impressive example of these trestles carried the interurban over the Copper Range / Keweenaw Central mainline on its way from Calumet Junction to Red Jacket. From there the HCTC moved north towards the communities of Kearsarge, Ahmeek, and finally Mohawk. To the south of this point the interurban line made its way to its Albion junction, where the line split in two to serve both Red Jacket and Laurium.

Also seen in this image are the dual shafts of the South Kearsarge Mine, which were connected by an 1100 foot long elevated trestle. Operated by the Osceola Mining company and built using recycled Osceola equipment, the Kearsarge amygdaloid mine would only be nothing but a marginal producer. (we’ll be featuring a tour of the South Kearsarge ruins in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!)

As we continue moving along the horizon we come to a long line of houses which mark the C&H mining community of Albion. Albion didn’t so much serve a particular shaft as it simply provided more housing for C&H’s growing workforce. Later the community would find itself conveniently placed near C&H’s No.17 and 18 shafts, but not when this high-res image was taken. The massive shaft house rising up behind those houses here belongs to one of the Centennial Mine’s Kearsarge lode shafts, either the No.2 or No.1. The large building standing off to the left of the shaft would be its combined machine and blacksmith shop which amazing continues to stand still today.

Also seen in this shot is the spires of two of Red Jacket’s more prestigious buildings – buildings we’ll take a closer look at in the next close up:

Most will recognize one of those buildings right away: the Calumet Theatre. Today the old municipal Opera House is missing the bell tower seen here, but has gained a series of clock faces that had yet to be installed when this pic was taken. Amazingly the theater is somewhat upstaged by the massive bulk of the nearby St. John the Baptist church sitting along 7th Street. The catholic church was original erected for the community’s Croatian congregation in 1901, and was estimated to cost upwards of $25,000. Unfortunately the church would have a short life, as it was destroyed by fire in 1925. It was replaced by a incredibly underwhelming brick structure I featured last year.

The last landmark featured on this close-up was already noted by a reader a few posts back. This is the Red Jacket school, an primary school catering to the population of Red Jacket itself. It was built in the exact same style as the Grant School (Yellow Jacket School) to the north-west, as well as the Webster school to the south (which we’ll be covering later). It sits atop property currently occupied by the 60′s era Morrison Elementary School, which served the district up until as recently as the late 90′s I believe.

Moving further north along 7th Street we come to another collection of spires. These belong to two more of Calumet’s grand collection of churches – these built for the area’s Norwegian population. The smaller of the two is the old Norwegian Methodist, a church that has since disappeared off the map. The larger one is the Norwegian Lutheran, which continues to stand today on the corner of 7th and Elm.

Here’s that same Norwegian Church as it appears today. The most notable difference is the missing spire, which was removed due to fears of it crashing down onto the street. The church was essentially left to rot for the longest time, but has recently been bought up by a preservation group which is slowly fixing the place back up. (check out their website HERE).

Turning west on Elm Street, we head down two blocks to the edge of the Mineral Range rail corridor to spot another interesting structures. While most of Red Jacket’s commercial blocks sat east of here along 5th and 6th streets, we have this interesting three story sandstone straggler sitting all by itself out at the end of Elm Street. This is the Albion Hotel, one of several low-rent establishments named after mines scattered across the community. With this in mind its location makes a tad bit more sense, considering the train station is only a block from here (verses downtown hotels which are a good three blocks away). It wasn’t incredibly popular, however, since by 1916 it was vacant.

The building next door housed a saloon, as well as more then a few boarders on its upper floor. The building was converted into tenements by 1916, housing several trammers and timbermen employed by C&H.

Fast forward a century. The saloon is now only an empty lot, but at least the first floor of the Albion continues to stand. It has since been converted into a garage for the adjacent home. It has got to be the prettiest garage in all of Calumet however – decked out with rough-faced sandstone on its front facade. The two connected homes on the right area also remnants of the Albion’s days. The house to the far right once housed a bakery, and may still have an old stone oven in its basement.

Finally we have one last interesting structure to take a closer look at, this one on the corner of Pine and 9th at the far northern end of the Mineral Range’s rail corridor. This large structure belonged to the Schiltz Brewing Company. The structure was not a brewery – since it neither brewed or bottled beer – but was instead a warehouse and distribution point for beer brought to the area from Milwaukee by train. But like all other breweries in the area, Schiltz operated a saloon within this building as well to sell its wares (the saloon is on the side of the building facing us in the pic)

To Be Continued…

16 comments

  1. You have a photo identifying the Red Jacket Public School, St Johns Church and the Calumet Theater. In your comments you refer to the Morrison Elementary School being a 60s era builidng. The Morrison Elmentary School was built in 1919.

    • Your correct Gary, thanks for the correction. I tend to have sixties-itis, a condition that makes me assume everything that I’m not sure of it’s construction date was built “in the sixties”. If I would have just checked my Sanborn maps – which I just did – I would have caught my mistake. Now it’s too late…

  2. I’m training for a snowshoe race… gotta take every opportunity I get! :)

    I’m definitely looking forward to those snowmobile trail maps. There’s lots to be found along them!

  3. Leave it to you Dave to go hunt these things down for me, even in the middle of winter! Definitely have to check it out…

    Gator – You gave me a good idea, and I’m definitely going to create a book specifically like the one you describe, just not this one. For now, however, I’ll be creating mini tours of various snowmobile trails, showcasing what can be seen along the way. These will be over on my sister site – Keweenaw Free Guide (check the link in the sidebar) – starting in January.

  4. The powder house really intrigued me, so I did some triangulating on another old photo (this one: http://pasty.com/reflections/id63.htm ) and figured out the general area. It looked like it should be close to Calumet Lake, near the end of the road next to the old waterworks.

    I snowshoed out there today, and sure enough, there are ruins! The snow’s deep enough that it’s hard to tell, but there are definitely rock foundations and cement/rebar ceilings or walls around. Some metal, but no machine mounts.

    Whatever it is, it’s just to the southeast of the road at the Waterworks Park in Calumet. Definitely something to check out in the spring.

  5. Mike,
    A book for release in the spring? This is sweet news! Since this is my fav site I can only imagine the book will reflect the intrigue, insight , and info that this site captures. Keep up the stellar work! If the book is going to touch upon the actual geographic locations of the mills mines and other ruins all I request is that the snowmobile trail is shown in relation to them (wherever relevant). I can see this book then apealing to an even wider audience ( I can also see me pulling over numerous times and whipping it out of the back of my sled!)
    Gator

  6. Darrell,
    The bars in Calumet were pretty much limited to Red Jacket. C&H would not allow them on company land. Laurium had its share of bars since it was just about all private property. Like the churches, there was a bar or two or three for each ethnic group. As far as the professional ladies are concerned, most references to their business establishments indicate they were located on the fringes of the “city”. County Road south of Raymbaulttown is mentioned often. I am sure there were free lance operations in town since there are news references about such houses being raided from time to time.

  7. i was told down thu the years that at one time calumet had a bar on just about every corner as well as many a red light district. Can anyone shed any light on this, considering all the numerous curches around there must have been some serious sining, steam being let off.

  8. Adam… Glad you enjoy. I’m actually trying to work on a book for release in the spring, a sort of ruin identification guide. But since I have to hand draw the whole thing its taken me some time (plus the holidays get in the way). Hopefully when I go on my yearly hiatus from CCE at xmas time I can get some serious work done.

  9. OK, you guys got me on the Centennial No.2. When I did up the photos about a month ago I had labeled it as the No.2, though when I wrote the post I couldn’t remember why. That’s why i said it could be either, although the picture marked it as the 2. I fixed it. Thanks.

    As far as the Centennial No.3, I feel like I want to fight that one but the more I look at it its identity as the Wolverine makes sense. The main reason I labeled as Cent 3 is the fact that its the only visible shaft in the vicinity of Centennial, and I figured those conglomerate shafts had to be visible somewhere in this photo. If that structure actually does belong to the Wolverine (and upon further research the rock house design does look the wolv 3) then where’e the Cent conglomerate shafts?

    And while we’re at it, I think I might of messed up with the Centennial school as well. Although the roof line looks right on the building I marked as such, there’s another school-like building sitting just right of the Albion trestle that makes more geographical sense.

  10. Ian,
    The Mineral Range did have them and you can make out Mineral Range on the letter board on the high res. Library of Congress files. C&H later acquired at least one or two of them with the steel rock cars and two locomotives for the Traprock Valley line after the 1923 consolidation.

  11. Speaking of rolling stock, is that a bobber caboose near the middle of the photo, behind a line of rockcars? I don’t recall the Mineral Range ever owning any….

  12. Looks like Centennial #1, I think #2 had the steel rockhouse from the start. If 2 was started when the picture was taken, it may have been a small headframe hidden behind #1 while the initial sinking and collar work was in progress. It does look like So. Kearsarge behind the interurban trestle, the elevated tram way between the #1 rockhouse and the #2 shafthouse is visible. By the looks of the railroad rolling stock, these photos must be very early in the 20th century.

  13. Oh, and, to the left of the Calumet & Hecla’s pump house, out along the horizion, is a darkened square taht looks a lot like part of the original rockhouse at the N. Kearsarge #1 shaft, although it could be just a watertank or something.

  14. Actually, I believe the first shaft you mentioned, the one labeled as Centennial #3, is actually the Wolverine #3 shaft. From there southward, they go in the order of: Wolverine #3, Wolverine #4, S. Kearsarge #1 and #2, and then Centennial. I’m also not sure if the Centennial shaft is the #1 or #2; the rockhouse looks more like the #1, but #2 was opened around the same time and I don’t see both shafts in the picture. Weird.

  15. waiting for more! incredible stuff. great job with it all. when does the book come out?

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