Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Colossus

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In the grand scheme of the copper empire the Lake Mine just east of Mass City was not particularly important. Though it managed to operate for nearly 20 years the mine and its brother to the north managed only a scant couple million pounds of copper; never paid a dividend, …

The Hiawatha

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Though blank today, this worn and forgotten sign was once emblazon with a large Indian Chief’s head and the words “Hiawatha Drive In Theatre”. Located just south of Chassell along US41, the Hiawatha Drive In was one of only two such theaters in the copper country (the other being the …

What Lies Atop Six Mile Hill?

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Six miles south of Houghton the flat plateau of the southern Portage Valley rises abruptly up a series of rugged peaks in an area now home to South Range. It was here along the slopes of Whealkate Mountain that the Copper Empire’s southern extension took its first baby steps – …

James & Henry

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It was a typical hot summer’s day in the Keweenaw when two young teenagers – James Fezzey and Henry Hart – ascended 200 feet into the Ashbed lode of the Copper Falls Mine. The cold underground air was probably a comfort for the middle of July, and as the two …

A Quincy Enigma

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Found in the shadow of the great Quincy No.2 shaft/rock house was this interesting wooden artifact partially obscured by a small evergreen tree. At first glance it looked to be some type of wooden pipe, leading out from the old sandstone supply house. But surely that cannot be the case, …

The Stack

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The Lake Mine is a site of extremes, an obscene ruin-scape of boisterous monstrosity. Everything is bigger-then-life from its soaring concrete rock-house footings, protruding shaft collar, and impenetrable hoist house walls. Yet for all its grand showmanship the mine does exhibit a few less obtrusive features, most notable of which …

The Roof Vent

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The great machines of the Copper Empire were powered by steam, a fuel source that by its very nature tends to produce a large amount of heat. This heat would often end up trapped within the massive stone buildings housing those steam powered equipment. Venting that heat would be a …

The Quincy Pump House

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This rather handsome small sandstone building along Hancock’s waterfront appears at first glance to be an old garage, one recently converted into a motor sports business. That assessment would be partially correct, considering the building’s previous tenant was indeed an auto garage. The building served as a gas station for …

Pillsbury’s Best

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In the later 1860’s Minneapolis had become a major player in the flour milling industry. The city was home to the St. Anthony Falls, the largest falls along the upper peninsula and an excellent source of cheap power for flour milling. Several mills sprung up along the river, all utilizing …

If the Shoe Fits…

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The mines and mills of the Copper Country may have been abandoned decades ago, but echoes from their exploits still ring through the now tranquil forests in which they once toiled. Foundations for massive steam engines, rail bridges’ towering support piers, and the soaring concrete smokestacks piercing the skies are …

A Mass(ive) Rock House

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The Mass Mine sits atop a massive rocky bluff overlooking the quaint little town of Mass, and as such was in a rather precarious position in regards to its accessibility by rail. THe mine’s shafts were sunk right up alongside the face of the bluff, and provided no room for …

A Few Additions…

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As the copper empire’s fortunes grew, so too did the collection of once modest mining towns scattered across the peninsula. As thousands upon thousands of immigrants arrived to the region those towns had to grow to accommodate. Unfortunately for the now bustling village of Red Jacket, space was at a …

The Hosking House

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Sandstone was a particularly expensive and unwieldy construction material, usually reserved for structures built with some rather substantial financial backing. Thus most sandstone buildings erected across the Keweenaw at the end of the nineteenth century were often built by one of three well-to-do institutions: government, business, or the upper crust. …

The Tunnel

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At the turn of the century the heart of any mine operation was its steam plant, a battery of coal-fed boilers which worked day and night to provided the mine’s compliment of victorian machinery with much needed lifeblood. That blood was in the form of steam, and it was transported …

Piece of Slag

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Mining is a messy business, an industry that discards an exceptionally large amount of waste product for such a minuscule amount of actual copper. First there’s the copper-barren rock that remains after the copper is removed, usually stacked up in large towering piles up on the surface. Then there’s the …