Calumet & Hecla Mine

“The greatest copper mine in the Copper Country (and probably the world) was born from pure happenstance. While surveying the military road running between Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor and Fort Atkinson in central Wisconsin, a man by the name of Hulbert stumbled across a peculiar find. It was an ancient Indian storage pit, left by native miners from Isle Royale. The pit was filled to the brim with a copper treasure, and prompted Hulbert to secure the land around it. Purely by chance, those ancient miners placed their copper storage pit directly atop the great Calumet Conglomerate lode, which it didn’t take Hulbert long to discover. The Calumet Mine was born.

Just to the south of the Calumet Mine a second mine opened on the same lode – the Hecla Mine. The lode proved just as productive as the Calumet to the north, and soon the two mines (along with two other minor mines) combined to form the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Though now one mine, the two parts of C&H regained their original identity. North of Red Jacket Road were shafts of the old Calumet Mine (labeled Calumet #1-5), and south of the road sat the shafts of the old Hecla Mine (labeled Hecla #1-8).”

The C&H Bathhouse

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It’s a rather unassuming structure, the squat brick building found at the corner of the US41 / M26 junction in Laurium. Things aren’t helped by the fact that its facade is largely blocked by several bushy trees along its front – providing a natural camouflage that shields the shy building from prying …

An American LaFrance in Calumet

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In 1873 a man by the name of Truckson LaFrance founded the LaFrance Manufacturing company, which primarily built hand-powered fire fighting equipment. With the popularity of steam-powered equipment rising, LaFrance expanded its operations into the new field and began building steam powered engines of its own. In 1903 the company merged with the …

Atop the Conglomerate

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Explore the vast industrial landscape that was the C&H Conglomerate Surface Plant with this 1930s era aerial image. Hover over points of interest to learn more, or click on them to explore further.

Little Houses on the Industrial Prairie

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As Shop Street fades away along the outskirts of newly built 6th Street Extension the industrial corridor accompanying that road also transitions away as the 19th century makes way for the 21st and industry moves aside for the bastion of modern retail – the strip mall. Though the sun has set …

The Shops of Shop Street

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Both the massive bulk of C&H’s machine shop and its No.1 warehouse stand tall along Mine Street, an avenue so named because it once marked the boundary between C&H’s conglomerate surface plant and the residential neighborhood bordering its eastern front – a community historically known as Hecla Location. These buildings’ …

A Building of Massive Proportions

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As practiced by the companies of the great Copper Empire, mining was a heavily industrialized operation of both massive scope and scale. Shaft houses soared a dozen stories into the air, iron beasts of burden towered over the workers at their feet, and underground tunnels were sunk over a mile into …

…and Everything in its Place

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The C&H Mine was an entity that existed for nearly a century, its size and scope ebbing and flowing through the ever changing economic conditions of the time. Near the end of the 19th century the company had reached the highest of its highs, its vast and copper rich conglomerate workings …

A Place For Everything…

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A company of the size and scope of C&H required an incredible amount of resources each and every day. These essential supplies included more industrious items such as coal and timbers but also a great deal of smaller less obvious items that are often overlooked. These smaller items including bolts, …

The Transformer House

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In its early years C&H’s use of electricity was extremely limited. For the most part the novel new power source was tasked with providing electric lighting, a service provided not in house but from outside suppliers. After the turn of the century C&H – along with most mines in the …

A House of Many Names

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Leaving the old drill and dry houses behind, our gaze turns southward across the sprawling parking lot of the neighboring schools. A century ago this lot would have been criss crossed by railroad spurs and lines of pulley stands. Stacks of wood, piles of timber, and scattered pieces tools and machinery would …

The C&H Dry House

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Standing in the shadow of the C&H Drill Shop is another rubble rock structure – this one a squat and wide building littered with a scattering of doorways and windows along its length. This was the Calumet Mine’s main dry house – serving primarily the No.2 and No.4 shafts. Underground …

Where Drills Are Made and Curling is Played

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The Superior Boiler House was just one dozens of industrial structures that once lined both sides of Mine Street, an industrial corridor two miles long,  a tenth of a mile wide and encompassing over 150 acres of land. This was once the heart and soul of the C&H operation, home …

A Superior Boiler House

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The great Calumet and Hecla Mine was a monster. Its immense copper riches lying under its feet exceeded over 900 million pounds, worth nearly a quarter billion dollars in 1917. Each year the company would deliver some 17 million dollars worth, enough income to pay its expenses, pay out over 8 million dollars …

In the Unlikeliest of Places

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It sits alone and secluded within a vast sea of asphalt and concrete, a sprawling parking lot serving serving Calumet’s expanded elementary complex. A century ago that school building was no where to be found, its footprint instead cradling a portion of Mine Street along with a spiderweb of steam …

A Dry Built of Sandstone

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During my work with the Keweenaw Heritage Center in preparation for next year’s sandstone exhibit we had noted an odd lack of the red stone when it came to the buildings erected by C&H for its own mine. It seemed odd because C&H actually owned its own quarry at Incline, …

Calumet No.3

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Here’s a look at the Calumet No.3 shaft, or at least a part of it. It’s been capped in concrete, leaving behind just a manhole cover and this brick lined archway as proof of the old shaft’s existence. The Calumet Mine was of course one of the precursors to the …

The Removal of the Osceola #13 Hoist

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Over at the Copper Country Forums long-time reader Jay had shared a rumor he had heard about the removal of the hoist from Osceola #13. At first I didn’t believe it. Since I knew that a new business was moving into the old Centennial No. 6 surface plant, I assured …

Finding 27 Holes in the Ground

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As I have mentioned numerous times here at CCE, the best Copper Country History resource on-line is by far the Keweenaw Digital Archives administered by the Michigan Tech Archives. Hundreds of photos can be viewed on-line here (for FREE!) with the option of purchasing higher resolution images of those that …

Yet Another Mystery

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Before we leave the Hecla and South Hecla Mine, I would like to share one last mystery in a long line of many here. As stated before, because of the shared hoists that this mine utilized it didn’t follow the usual mine ruin pattern. Most notably this meant no hoist …

A South Hecla Hoist

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in the shadow of Osceola #13, lies the shafts of South Hecla Since passing Hecla No. 8, we had officially crossed from the Hecla Mine to the South Hecla Mine. Here were the last four shafts along the Calumet Conglomerate ending on the northern border of lands owned by the …

From Engine to Shaft

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a structure designed to divert power from the steam engine to the shaft While many mines across the Copper Country held to the same standard of pairing one hoist to one shaft, C&H took a different approach. Instead of scattering a collection of small steam engines dedicated to specific tasks …

Found Along the Road

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looking down Mine Street towards the north, and the industrial complex of the late C&H Mine Street was the center of the universe for over a century in the Copper Country, for along its length sat one of the greatest copper mines in the world. At its height over 17 …