Champion Mine

“By the end of the nineteenth century, copper mining along the Keweenaw had come of age. No longer a rugged and remote frontier spotted by temporary mining camps, the Copper Country had matured into a civilized and highly prosperous land. The struggling boom or bust mining companies of the past had been replaced by stable, productive, and dominant players like C&H and Quincy who had great sway over its workforce and communities. But these civilized lands and the copper mines that controlled them were concentrated north of the Portage canal; to the south lay relatively untapped (and highly rich in copper) resources. But by 1901 this southern range would give birth to another great copper mine – the Copper Range.

The Copper Range Consolidated Company, under the direction of John Stanton and William Paine (of Paine & Webber fame), had gained majority ownership of a series of mining interests along the southern range including three mines, a smelter, and a railroad. One of those mines was the Champion sitting on the end of the Baltic lode. While the other mines along the lode managed operations only into the 30′s, the Champion continued to be mined right up to the end – September of 1967.”

The F Plant (p2)

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In the beginning the Champion Mine was built not unlike most mines of the time – in distinct slices centered around each shaft. Infrastructure such as boilers, hoisting engines, and compressors were scattered all across ...

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The F Plant (p1)

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The Champion Mine was one of the longest operating mines of the old empire, and was one of the last to close its doors for good. It was started in 1899 as a joint venture ...

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Gone But Not Forgotten

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After the discovery of the great southern copper lode – the Baltic – companies rushed into the once remote and undeveloped region to cash in on the newly discovered riches. One of those pioneers wast ...

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A Champion Powder House

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I have heard many rumors about the Champion’s powder house and its apparent “in plain sight” location that manages still to keep its location quite secret. After some more specific information from a local resident ...

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A Peek Inside…

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Yesterday we gave you a sneak peak inside the Champion No. 4 shafthouse in the form of a large panoramic image taken on it’s rockhouse level. Today we continue that peek inside with a few ...

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Loose Ends…

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As we wrap up our exploration of the Champion Mine, a few last things to take a look at. One of them is this old concrete trestle, which runs behind the No. 4 Hoist building. ...

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More Hoist Views

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As we have seen time and time again, copper country engine houses and the foundations that remain share very similar. Looking at what remains at the No. 4 hoist today, we can clearly see evidence ...

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New Becomes Old

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As we take a walk behind the old hoist building and underneath the concrete trestle atop which the main line for the Copper Range Railroad once ran, we find ourselves in view of a large ...

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Hoist and Pulleys

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The No. 4, like all shafts of the Champion Mine, were serviced by two hoists during it’s lifetime. As the shafts became deeper, larger and more capable hoists were needed. The hoist building that currently ...

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In Support of No. 4

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keeping the Champion Mine safe from fire… Most of the time at Explorer we deal with “the big three” when it comes to ruins: the shaft house, the rock house (sometimes combined), and the engine ...

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Oil House

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We haven’t yet come across too many ruins of oil houses in our explorations. I’m not sure why that is. Oil was used as a lubricant in almost all machines and equipment used at the ...

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The Last of Her Kind (p2)

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The “E” shaft was built originally in 1902, making it the oldest shaft house still standing in the Keweenaw beating the Quincy #2’s steel shafthouse by five years. But unlike Quincy which saw steadied improvements ...

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The Last of Her Kind (p1)

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the last shafthouse standing Once she was one of dozens, scattered up and down the spine of the Keweenaw. They were symbols of a prosperous land, tamed and civilized by its industrious hand. They represented ...

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D Shaft

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there’s something real familiar about this…. Lately I have had a strange sense of familiarity fall over me during my excursions. Hoist foundations, old buildings, shafts; they have all started to look the same to ...

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A Depot and a Hoist

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the Copper Range RR main line – now a snowmobile trail – runs past the platform to the old depot that once served Painesdale Today’s Copper Country relies on the highway to connect it to ...

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"C" Shaft

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a pillar of concrete peaks out of the trees signaling the location of Champion #2, or “C” shaft Leaving the steam pipes behind and walking out of the trees we found ourselves standing below the ...

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Steam Pipes

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Sitting just outside of “C” shaft along a overgrown ridge lies this interesting discovery. It looked to be a large pipe suspended up in the air by a series of metal frames. Upon closer inspection ...

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Up Close & Personal

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the still grand looking front entrance to the Champion Dry – over a century past its prime It was an amazing site – that first glimpse of the dry house sitting up on the hillside. ...

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The Champion Dry

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the stone walls of the Champion’s Dry House Before the advent of air-powered drills, mining was a much more laborious and physically demanding job. (although even with the modern drills it was no walk in ...

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"B" Shaft

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By the end of the nineteenth century, copper mining along the Keweenaw had come of age. No longer a rugged and remote frontier spotted by temporary mining camps, the Copper Country had matured into a ...

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