Calumet BreweryIndustry

And Not a Drop to Drink (p2)

The tumultuous life and times of the brewery at Lakeview have created similarly tumultuous remains. Various additions, alterations, and the ramshackle toil of time have sculpted the old masonry structure into something hard to identify, categorize, or simplify. The Calumet Brewery is as an organic ruin as we have explored before, something that has morphed itself into the surrounding wilderness to become an integral part of the surrounding landscape. Large rooms of stone, doorways opening to the forest, orphaned walls and walls rising up from the brush – all just the same as the trees, brush, and swampy ground surrounding it. Its an amazing and unique set of remains, something not normally encountered in a land devoted to copper.


Here’s another look at the ruins as they exist today, a drawing that provides a good overview of how all those organic and seemingly random elements of the old brewery fit together. The original building was “L” shaped, the tall leg of the letter forming the boiler room and administrative offices while the short leg was made up of the stock house and back room sections. As noted earlier most of the building’s center sections are missing, leaving two separate wings of the building now separated by a wide and sprawling debris field. With one of those sections now explored – the stock house section – we now move on to the opposite end of the old complex to take a look at the offices and boiler room area.


On the way we stumble across another wall dividing up the middle part of the complex, this one a far shorter brick wall that stands only about four feet high. This wall together with the masonry dividing wall found earlier work to divide this massive space into three separate rooms: one room to the far right behind the white-washed wall, one in the middle now occupied by the large tree, and a third sitting off to the left.  While the purpose of those rooms to the right are  unclear, the room to the left provides its own massive clue to its purpose.


Branching off of that brick dividing wall is this “L” shaped brick and rock foundation capped by a thick piece of concrete. This is no doubt an engine mount for one of the brewery’s steam-powered machines – either its main steam engine or perhaps its water pump. My guess is that this foundation served the main steam engine, an engine which would have operated the various pieces of equipment found throughout the building by means of a series of belts and pulleys along the ceilings.


Of course the presence of a steam engine would mean there would also have to be a few boilers nearby – boilers which would have been found here within this room found just before the office section of the complex. That wall of windows seen behind the trees is the same wall of windows shown earlier. In front of that office space would have sat the complex’s boiler house – a room anchored on its east end by the towering monolith of rock seen to the left in the photo above. That tower of rock served as the base to the complex’s soaring brick smokestack. Pieces of that smokestack can be seen down in the wreckage below along with a large collection of concrete slabs which would have made up the building’s roof.


Here’s a closer look at that stack base, bringing into view the beautiful sandstone quinoa forming its corners. The stack’s flue would have headed off to the right, joining up with the series of boilers found in the room adjacent.


Another look inside the stack base reveals the remains of that flue along with the interior of the stack itself – marked by the curved bricks embedded within. While pieces of the stack which once topped this structure could be found in the wreckage it was not nearly enough to account for the stack’s entire length. I would suspect that the stack was torn down at some point and the bricks recovered for use elsewhere.


Marking the other end of boiler room is this solitary lonely piece of masonry wall. Besides the stack base this is the only part of the boiler room’s outer walls still standing, the rest now lying in ruin in the brush.


Though small in size, that wall had integrated into its mass almost any piece of material imaginable. In addition to poor rock, it also featured a good amount of sandstone, a sprinkling of red bricks, and even a few iron rails for good measure. On its outside is that same plastering of concrete and sprinkling of nails found elsewhere – an indication that this side of the wall was an interior surface.

At this point we left the boiler room behind and headed next door into that office wing of the building – or at least we tried to.


Turns out this end of the building drops down about a half dozen feet into a huge water-filled pit lining the entirety  of the office wing’s footprint. Unlike the rooms explored earlier, this part of the building features a full sized basement level. The floor would have sat along that notch in the outer wall seen just below the window line. There was not nearly as much debris within this pit as we would expect however, and after a closer look at the top of the walls we figured out why. It looked as if this section of the building was topped by a wood roof, as evident by the remains of wooden beams sticking out of the wall’s cap. The rest of the building – those parts serving more industrial uses – had a concrete roof. Those concrete roofs left quite the mess once they collapsed, but this wood one probably simply rotted away over the decades.

Unable to get down into that pit to take a look around, we were forced to head back to the largely empty middle section of the ruins and take a few last looks around to help get out bearings. Climbing over all the rubble and pushing your way through the dense foliage makes one loose sense of just how massive this entire complex really is. While we have explored many large ruins before, none were as large as this. A couple of panoramas seen below help to illustrate that point.

Unable and honestly unwilling to drop down into the water filled pit to look around more, we instead decided to leave the ruins in peace and head back out the way we came in. Once back out on the road we looked back at the ruins that peeked up out of the foliage. From the road only a glimpse of the sprawling structure can be seen – noticeable walking the road but hardly so when driving past like most people do. That’s because for the most part the old brewery has become part of the surrounding landscape, no more noticeable then a single tree or a bush. For those willing to slow down and take it slow, however, the old gal has quite the story to tell.

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  1. My mother Diane Holmstrom said my GGrandfather Bernhardt Holmstom built the Brewery building. I think she has documents of it.
    You did a fabulous job here. This is on the way down to our cottage at Sedar Bay. I grew up watching it fall. Very slowly I may add.
    Thanks, Jennifer.

  2. Thanks for this great series, Mike! I’ve never gotten a chance to explore these ruins and have always wondered about their history, and your posts really filled me in.

  3. I am a descendant of the Rockland Miswalds and I issue heartfelt thanks to the author of these articles. The photos are fantastic. I am also a proud owner of one of the few remaining beer bottles with the “Miswald Brothers” name on it… these young guys were my Grandpa’s uncles Joseph and Martin. Their sister Eugenia Agnes was my grandfather’s Mom.

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