Calumet-opolis: A Guided Tour (p4)

After a few backtracking posts we’ve finally came full circle back to where we last left off during our Yellow Jacket exploration. In the frame above we’re looking due east, down Portland Street and off towards Red Jacket. Not only does this angle provide a great view of Red Jacket’s skyline, it also impresses upon us the sprawling industrial complex known that was the C&H surface plant.

The first part of that massive complex to come into view on our high-res panoramic is the shaft house for Calumet No.5/6, which sits just south of Pine Street. Along with the wood framed structure we can also see an overtly large stone building nearby that would have housed the shaft’s hoist. Both buildings are gone today, but the foundation to the Hoist still stands alongside Mine Street. (in fact last I knew it was for sale and I briefly toyed with the idea of CCE buying up the ruins and making it a historical park of some type).

Taking up most of the frame in this close-up is the twin spires of St. Joseph’s (now St. John’s) church on the corner of Oak and 7th. Nearby you can also make out the spires to the currently absent Swedish Methodist and congregational churches. And in front of it all sits the Mineral Range depot, which at this time was still the older wood building that originally served the Hancock & Calumet line. It would be replaced with a more prestigious structure built of sandstone and brick in 1908.

Across the street from St. Joseph’s stands one of Calumet’s most impressive long lost buildings – the Bollman Block. This four story masonry building was built at the turn of the century on the corner of 8th and Oak, just a block away from the train station. Its first floor housed the Calumet branch of the Lieblein Wholesale Company, with it upper floors taken up with apartments and a large lodge hall. The building is perhaps more famous for its destruction due to a disastrous fire that ripped through the structure in 1950. During the mayhem, the building’s Oak Street facade collapsed down on the street killing one fire fighter and injuring another. Today the site is home to a parking lot, though the outline of the massive building can still be seen along the adjacent sidewalk.

Moving back up from the Bollman Block to the C&H surface plant we’re greeted by a pair of shafts sitting on top of two different lodes. The shaft house on the left belongs to the Calumet No.4 which of course mined the great Calumet Conglomerate lode. The shaft house to the right is the No.16, which sat atop the adjacent Osceola Lode situated alongside current US41. After the Osceola Mine discovered the Osceola lode during an attempt to mine a southern extension of the Calumet Conglomerate, C&H returned the favor by placing a series of shafts atop the part of the Osceola Lode running within their property. Ruins of these shafts can still be seen along the east side of US41. In fact the No.16’s captain’s office would later be used to house the State Police Post for several years before the new post was built south of town. The old stone building continues to stand toady at the corner of Church and Rockland Streets.

Between those two shaft – on the corner of aptly name Church Street and US41 – sits Calumet’s Methodist church. The wood framed building would be replaced later by a brick version that continues to house the congregation today.

Continuing to the south (right) we find ourselves looking out across the area currently occupied by CLK’s middle and elementary schools, but at this time was considered the heart and soul C&H’s surface plant. Housed within those large structures in the center of the picture were one of the most impressive collection of steam power ever assembled in one location. No less then six engines were housed within the two large buildings seen in the photo, capable of producing over 14,000 HP of mechanical power. The first of these was the famous Superior engine, a massive 4700 HP corliss machine featuring 40″ cylinders and a 71″ stroke. The engine drove an ming boggling amount of equipment including four hoisting drums, two compressors, two mine pumps, and a pair of man-engines. Later the Superior was joined by an even larger machine, a quad-cylinder triple expansion monster known as the Mackinac that was capable of generating over 7000 HP.

Feeding this impressive array of machinery was an equally impressive array of boilers – 14 in total – that were housed in a pair of buildings running alongside mine street. Accompanying those building are a pair of soaring stacks, one of which – a beautiful brick lined tower – continues to stand still today. In fact both of the boiler houses are also still standing, though they no longer house any boilers.

A note about my labeling on this particular image. Sanborn maps label the building to the left as being the “Superior Compressor” with the building to the right being the “Mackinac Compressor”. This would make the tall stack part of the Superior’s boiler house and the shorter brick one accompanying the Mackinac’s. But considering the Superior was built first this layout doesn’t make sense, since it would place the obviously newer and larger boiler house and stack with the older engine, and the older boiler house and stack with the newer engine. And considering other sources seem to point to the building on the right as being the Superior’s home, I came to the conclusion that the Sanborn might have been in error. My gut says the layout I labeled is correct, but I hoping someone with a bit more knowledge out there can point out the error (or maybe genius?) of my ways….

Taking a look south of the Superior/Mackinac engine houses we come across Calumet’s high school. Actually the building itself is the Washington Middle school, but at this time it was also serving as the community’s high school thanks to a disastrous fire that had destroyed the real high school next door. The current CLK High School – built by C&H to replace the destroyed school – wouldn’t be finished until 1907. Speaking of fires, the large building sitting behind the school is the Calumet Hotel, a structure that would also be destroyed by fire in the 20’s. Today its old lot is home to a CLK parking lot.

In the foreground of the image is Temple Square, a collection of churches and other civic buildings build on land donated by C&H. Seen here is the gothic St. Anne’s church and Presbyterian church – both of which still stand today. Moving across sixth street we have yet another church, one I had not noted on my “Churches of Calumet” post years back. This is German Lutheran school, which at one time was also joined by a parochial school. Behind it stands a wood framed building that was labeled by Sanborn as the “U.T. of H. Hall”. I have no idea what that stands for, so perhaps someone out there can fill me in.

Before leaving this frame behind, there’s still one interesting landmark to note. When I first looked over this high-res image I was drawn to this rather interesting building sitting on the corner of Portland and Seventh Streets. Gleaming white, lined with battlements, and sporting a pair of corner towers, the entire structure looked like something out of medieval times. Turns out the building belonged to the Salvation Army, and was used as a meeting hall and housing space.

Here’s a closer look at the building, showcasing some of its more unique design elements. Close up its apparent that the building is a simple wood framed structure and those battlements and towers are just decorative elements and not structural. At this time it looks like the building might be abandoned, or it at least has seen better days. Interesting to me is the fact that this non-profit organization built inside the village limits instead of on C&H property. It seemed like the exact type of organization that C&H would gladly help support.

And here’s the old Salvation Army barracks as they appear today – non existent. At some point the building was torn down and replaced by this rather plain (and industrious looking) one story building. It was most recently home to an auto mechanic.

To Be Continued…

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  1. From all I have heard and read, you have the buildings labeled correctly. Sanborn has them switched on the 1928 copy I have. By that time they were probably only used for compressors since the adjacent shafts appear to be hoisted for other buildings. The shorter town to the west of Superior gain a certain amount of infamy during the 1913 strike after C&H mounted a search light on it and posted guards. It became known as MacNaughton’s eye to the strikers.
    Quincy did a similar thing by adding a cupola on the top of the #2 shafthouse.

  2. UT of H stands for Union Temple of Honor, a secret society which promoted temperance. The Calumet organization was lodge (or union) number 48. The hall was on the second floor of the Temple of Honor building on Scott Street, and there were apartments downstairs.

  3. A light mounted on the tower? How about “Eye of Sauron”?!

    I agree on the Superior being labeled correctly in your image. I’ve heard that stack (still) called the “superior boiler stack” in many different places.

  4. Just out of curiosity, at the time they were originally installed did those two engines power all the shafts in the immediate vicinity? It would seem so, considering their strength, and it would also be logical then that they would be converted to compressors in the 20’s when a hoist was installed at every C&H shaft, but it still seems like a rather complex system of pulleys and gears to transfer that force to numerous shafts.

  5. Ian,
    With Superior, the engine itself ran in one direction continuously, which was ideal for a compound engine. The compressors got their power from a wire rope drive, even at that early date, there would have been some sort of automated loading/unloading valves to maintain pressure. The 4 hoist drums served single compartment shafts so a clutch and brake system controlled the motion of the skips. Release the brake and the skip goes down, engage the clutch and the skip comes up. If you check out the old photos, the very complex routing of hoisting cables at Calumet becomes apparent. There were allot of low pulley stands parallel to Mine Street and, in some cases, the cables ran through covered trenches. C&H on the Conglomerate load was a monument of 19th Century engineering. Agassiz built so far ahead, that it really did happen as he envisioned, the equipment lasted the life of the mine.

  6. Looked for a photo with some stands in it, here is one off the Copper Country Reflections web site. You can see 2 cable stands side by side coming up to #4 shaft and one stopping at that shaft with a pulley to turn the cable into the shaft and the other cable continuing towards #5 shaft.
    I can only imagine controlling a skip from a remote location to the shaft, it had to be hard from the hoist house, but gees, a couple blocks away.

  7. Wow, that’s awesome… and to think all that coreography was carried without the aid of computers like today. It took some skilled engineers and operators to design and work a system like that; too cool!

  8. Ian,
    While searching for more Red Jacket info, I found some more on the Mackinac engine. It was a 4 cylinder triple expansion compound engine rated at 7000 HP. It drove 4 Nordberg compressors capable (in true C&H fashion) of supplying air to 600 drills. Double the number that the mine was using when the engine was installed.

  9. You have a photo identifying several churches. Among them St Joseph’s (now St Paul’s) with the old Mineral Range depot in the foreground. Your description indicates the church is on the corner of Seventh and Oak. It is on the corner of Eighth and Oak.

    You put a lot of work into this site, nicely compiled. You might consider number your images for quicker/more accurate reference.

    1. Right again Gary. I need to fire my editor, he’s letting too many mistake get though. But since he’s me, I’ll give him a second chance.

      Thanks for the compliments. As far as picture numbering is concerned, it’s a good suggestion. I’ll look into it…

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