Champion Mine

The Baltic Mine’s discovery of a highly rich copper lode along the southern range prompted an avalanche of prospectors and companies descending upon the region to claim their own piece of the Baltic prize. One of the first to do so was a small start-up company known predominantly for its nearby railroad – the Copper Range. Working in partnership with the St. Mary’s Land Company – which already had control of a great deal of southern range land – the two opened up a small mine along a section of lode a mile south of the Baltic Mine’s rich outcroppings. This small mine was known as the Champion, and over the next 60 years would grow to become the region’s predominate copper producer.


It was in 1899 that Michigan’s former state geologist and subsequent Copper Range employee L.L. Hubbard first discovered the Baltic Lode along the Champion property by means of a shallow exploration trench. Within the next three years the company worked feverishly to establish a set of four shafts – labeled alphabetically from north to south – to exploit the lode. The mine’s third shaft would end up being sunk just south of that first exploration pit dug by Hubbard years earlier. The shaft would continue to produce copper for the next 40 years, closing down for good at the end of the Second World War but not before reaching a depth of over 2300 feet.

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.”

Champion Mine

"B" Shaft

By the end of the nineteenth century, copper mining along the Keweenaw had come of age. No longer a rugged…
Champion Mine

The Champion Dry

the stone walls of the Champion’s Dry House Before the advent of air-powered drills, mining was a much more laborious…
Champion Mine

Up Close & Personal

the still grand looking front entrance to the Champion Dry – over a century past its prime It was an…
Champion Mine

Steam Pipes

Sitting just outside of “C” shaft along a overgrown ridge lies this interesting discovery. It looked to be a large…
Champion Mine

"C" Shaft

a pillar of concrete peaks out of the trees signaling the location of Champion #2, or “C” shaft Leaving the…
Champion Mine

A Depot and a Hoist

the Copper Range RR main line – now a snowmobile trail – runs past the platform to the old depot…
Champion Mine

D Shaft

there’s something real familiar about this…. Lately I have had a strange sense of familiarity fall over me during my…
Champion Mine

The Last of Her Kind (p1)

the last shafthouse standing Once she was one of dozens, scattered up and down the spine of the Keweenaw. They…
Champion Mine

The Last of Her Kind (p2)

The “E” shaft was built originally in 1902, making it the oldest shaft house still standing in the Keweenaw beating…
Champion Mine

The Last of Her Kind (p3)

the no. 4 (e shaft) while still in operation The Champion Mine, and specifically the No. 4, was Copper Range’s…
Champion Mine

Oil House

We haven’t yet come across too many ruins of oil houses in our explorations. I’m not sure why that is.…
Champion Mine

In Support of No. 4

keeping the Champion Mine safe from fire… Most of the time at Explorer we deal with “the big three” when…
Champion Mine

Hoist and Pulleys

The No. 4, like all shafts of the Champion Mine, were serviced by two hoists during it’s lifetime. As the…
Champion Mine

New Becomes Old

As we take a walk behind the old hoist building and underneath the concrete trestle atop which the main line…
Champion Mine

More Hoist Views

As we have seen time and time again, copper country engine houses and the foundations that remain share very similar.…
Champion Mine

Loose Ends…

As we wrap up our exploration of the Champion Mine, a few last things to take a look at. One…
Champion Mine

A Peek Inside…

Yesterday we gave you a sneak peak inside the Champion No. 4 shafthouse in the form of a large panoramic…
Champion Mine

A Champion Powder House

I have heard many rumors about the Champion’s powder house and its apparent “in plain sight” location that manages still…
Champion Mine

Another Champion Powder House

In what has become a trend as of late, the Champion Mine had not just one powder house to store…
Champion Mine

A Hoist of Champion’s (p1)

When it comes to the grand buildings of the old empire, very few have managed to survive intact to this…
Champion Mine

A Hoist of Champion’s (p2)

From where it stood, the Champion hoist we were looking at appeared out of place with the rest of the…
Champion Mine

Gone But Not Forgotten

After the discovery of the great southern copper lode – the Baltic – companies rushed into the once remote and…
Champion Mine

The Champion Trestle

When the Copper Range railroad first blazed its right-of-way through the southern range its route was far to the west…
Champion Mine

The F Plant (p1)

The Champion Mine was one of the longest operating mines of the old empire, and was one of the last…
Champion Mine

The F Plant (p2)

In the beginning the Champion Mine was built not unlike most mines of the time – in distinct slices centered…