Monthly Archives: February 2013

Smelters of the Copper Country

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As we noted in yesterdays post, smelting was a particularly costly enterprise that only became feasible once the mining industry of the peninsula had reached sufficient size and scope. That event occurred around 1880 with the establishment of the Portage Lake Smelting Works, and by the dawn of the 20th …

The Detroit and Lake Superior

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In the districts early years, most copper recovered from the peninsula’s depths were shipped almost straight out of the mine to points east for smelting and refining. Later as the mass mines emptied and companies turned to more finely distributed copper stamp mills began to take shape along lakes and …

Scrapbook Friday: Postcard Edition (p2)

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Another Scrapbook Friday brings another round of postcards from reader Paul Petosky (thanks again Paul!). This time we take a look down a few main streets in cities and towns all across the peninsula. There’s some good stuff here, but my favorite has to be the beautiful view of downtown …

The Laurium Commercial School

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While Houghton had the Mining College, and Hancock Suomi College, Laurium had its own institution of higher learning in the form of the Laurium Commercial School. Established in 1899 by a Mr. J. F. Reinier, the school offered coursework in stenography, penmanship, typewriting, bookkeeping, and “all other commercial subjects”. Within …

A Space Left Empty…

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In a habit made completely from flammable materials – such as a forest – fire is a constant and terrifying threat. A spark from lighting, or a carelessly tossed cigarette can in moments wipe the entire forest from the earth and leave nothing behind but blackened trunks and ash covered …

Scrapbook Friday: Postcard Edition (p1)

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Up until the middle of the 19th century private correspondence was limited to notes in sealed envelopes, that is until the first Postcards began to circulate in Germany around 1865. In the US, private issued postcards didn’t become permitted by law until 1898, but back then any message written on …

Among the Coal Fields

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Stepping away from the hoist foundation we discover a scattering of concrete footings surrounding the building. These footings are adorned with pairs of iron bolts and are arranged in parallel lines stretching out from the building. We’ve seen these types of blocks before and they are almost always serve one …

On the Inside

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After checking out the Mass Mine’s Hoist House from its outside, we turned our attention to what could be found inside the walls. Luckily for us it the foundation wall on the building’s south end were much lower then the rest, allowing us to simply step over it to enter …

Concrete Walls

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Sitting atop a rugged bluff deep within the interior of Ontonagon County sits the Mass Mine, an industrial endeavor that operated under various legal identities for close to seventy years. If a mine’s success can be determined by the legacy it left behind, then the Mass could be considered a …

An Electric Enigma

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Found just outside of the Gratiot Mine’s crumbling shaft house remains stands this enigmatic stranger – a ruin of a type we have never encountered before during our seven years of travels. We’ve actually been here one before, over a half decade ago during our first visit to these old …

For the Children…

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The boom and bust cycles of the mining trade are rather legendary, and the pattern was no less vicious across the Keweenaw during the great copper rush preceding the civil war. At the beginning a flood of mines quickly sprang forth from the wilderness and along with them a collection …