Industry

Getting the copper out of the ground was only the first step in the copper mining process. Once freed from its underground tomb, that copper would then have to undergo a milling and smelting process to transform it from mineral into commodity. Stamp mills would smash the copper-bearing rock into workable sizes, while a series of wash tables and jigs would work to separate the rich copper from the poor rock. From there the captured copper would be sent to smelters, where it would be melted in furnaces and formed into ingot for shipping. Many of these sprawling mill and smelter complexes were built in close proximity to the mines providing them with their copper – creating a second tier of industry scattered across the peninsula.

Then there’s a third layer of Copper Country industry – those providing the food, machinery, materials, and supplies the mining empire required. As the mines grew and expanded so to did these wide variety of satellite industries. Lumber mills dotted the lakes and rivers, several breweries churned out beer for local taverns, explosive plants created dynamite for the mines, and power companies built gas and electric generating facilities. But with the demise of the Copper Industry, these parasitic industries quickly perished as well and hardly survived beyond those mines that gave them life.

Supply Lines

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As we continue our fresh look at CCE’s earliest posts we stumble across our first exploration of one of the Keweenaw’s most impressive and popular ruins. That is of course the Redridge Dam, a steel monstrosity rising up across the Salmon-Trout River gorge in Redridge. Its an incredible piece of …

And Not a Drop to Drink (p2)

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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, …

And Not A Drop to Drink (p1)

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The Calumet Brewery out in Lakeview served the residents of the Red Jacket metropolis for a quarter of a century, a history of brewing that was not without its setbacks. In fact the Calumet Brewery once was known as the Miswald Brewery, back when it was owned and operated by …

Lakeview and its Brewery

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As the Copper Country reached the end of the 19th century, the booming village of Red Jacket and its surrounding communities had begun to reach their limits of expansion. Surrounding on all sides by mine property off limits to development, any new businesses or residents hoping to make the mining village …

Behind a Green Veil

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Though only early June the air was thick and heavy – the relief given by the passing breeze now blocked by the dense collection of trees we found ourselves in. The trees were relatively young, with only a select few protruding through the low canopy of green just a half …

The Old Mill In the Woods

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While beautiful to admire with a serene and relaxing setting, the tumble of water at Haven Falls is in most way just another picturesque Keweenaw waterfall. Its uniqueness lies in what sits shrouded nearby. A century ago these falls probably never ran, as the water would have been diverted by a dam …

Out of the Shadows

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Normally the remnants of logging aren’t exactly the type of picturesque setting one looks forward to when walking along a Copper Country trail. In this case, however, as I strolled along the old Keweenaw Central right-of-way last month it was something I was looking forward to with great anticipation. When …

A Stroke of Bad Luck

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Before the copper-rich lodes of the peninsula’s interior had been discovered, early Copper Country mines had to deal with the far less predictable fissure deposits found along the peninsula’s northern reaches. These were highly hit or miss prospects, and even if copper was initially found, finding enough to provide a mine …

In Situ (p2)

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The Carp Mill ruins feature an incredible collection of Civil War era industrial equipment, all of which continue to stand along the banks of the Carp River largely ignored by the passage of time. These archaic pieces of steam technology represent the types of machines one would expect to find …

In Situ (p1)

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To describe the remains of the Carp Mill to be off the beaten path would be an incredible understatement, as the remains lie deep within the rugged hills of the Porcupine Mountains  in an area largely untouched by man in the century since the mine’s abandonment. Only after driving several miles up …

The Gravity Stamp

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Getting copper up and out of the earth was only the first step in a long process transforming copper rock into copper ingot. That raw form of the red metal was not retrieved alone, as it was usually infused with the volcanic rock in which it formed. This secondary rock had …

On Borrowed Time

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In addition to the electrolytic plant, loco house, and old furnace buildings, one other structure of note remains from the long vanished C&H smelter complex. That building is seen above, a long steel framed structure sitting along a steep hillside. This is the facility’s mineral house, a structure used to …

A Smelter’s Legacy

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In the beginning the great C&H relied on a third party to smelt its copper – the Detroit and Lake Superior Smelter in Ripley. This arrangement would not last long, as C&H’s quickly got to thinking that it could smelt its own copper at its own facility at far less …

A Trip to the Archives

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Our man on the spot Craig Aldinger brings us another report from the his newly adopted Copper Country home, this time detailing a search for a particular photo of the Trimountain Mill. His report follows, augmented at times by my own comments (noted in italics).  This is what comes of …

The Ahmeek Mill (p2)

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From the basketball court of the Tamarack City Park the remains of the Ahmeek Mill loom ominously on the horizon half shrouded in a scattering of trees and brush. A waist level wall of concrete keeps those ruins safely out of reach, the remains of the mill’s complementing pump house. …

The Ahmeek Mill (p1)

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The allure of the Copper Country doesn’t lie in its history alone, as interesting as that history may be. What makes the region so unique is how that history haunts the landscape of today, an afterimage of the past etched into the peripheral of the present day. One of the greatest …

In the Shadow of the Empire

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After the Copper Empire’s abandonment the little mill town of Tamarack City found itself without its major employer. Many of the town’s residents soon followed in the exodus, and before long the town’s businesses which relied on those residents closed their doors in turn. What was once a small but …

A Monument of Iron and Concrete

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As the new century dawned the great Copper Empire had taken dominion of the rugged peninsula at its feet, transforming what was once a remote wilderness into an industrial megalopolis of almost Babylonian proportions. It was a landscape no longer dominated by the natural world, its prehistoric DNA shaped and altered instead by …

A Fall Walk in the Clouds

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That time of year… all the colors… This is one of those things I’ve missed living out west for too many years and it’s a damn fine sight to see again. We piled into the van last Sunday and dithered our way over the old A&LS rail line that has …

Whispers in the Forest

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A walk through the forest is a peaceful stroll. The flutter of leaves high above, the moaning of old and tired tree trunks, and the soothing hush of wind through the canopy tends to drown out the outside world and pacify your attention. Your only distraction is the soothing lullaby of …

The Lost Temple of the Red Metal King (p4)

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As we exited that dark dingy tunnel and made our way into the light we looked back at the temple ruins stretched out before us yet again. Stretched in front of us was the grand performance space, joined on its backside by the remains of a narrow seating hall. While …

The Lost Temple of the Red Metal King (p3)

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So far we’ve explored two rooms of the great temple. The first seemed to be some type of waiting room, while the second – found up a flight of stairs – was some type of audience chamber. This room was missing its far wall, its maw opened out onto a …

The Lost Temple of the Red Metal King (p2)

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The forsaken temple at the south end of Torch Lake lies shrouded within the embrace of the surrounding forest. From the looks of things it has done so for some time, its windows smashed, its walls crumbling, and its ceilings weeping. This ravages of time have scarred and scabbed over …

The Lost Temple of the Red Metal King (p1)

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Shrouded in a dense calico camouflage of  foliage lies the ragged and faded remnants of an old abandoned temple.What ancient civilization built it? What deity did it honor?  Our apprehension soared as we carefully hacked our way through the thick jungle at our feet and approached the forsaken structure in …