Atlas Powder Company

“The mine’s of the Copper Country were generally self-reliant except for three things which they could not find along the peninsula: coal, iron, and explosives. For that time these items were transported here from elsewhere at high cost to the mine companies. In an attempt to lower these costs, the controlling interests of the Tamarack and Osceola Mines invested in the construction of the area’s first explosives plant at Woodside in 1884. By the turn of the century the plant had come under the control of C&H (who had bought up the Tamarack and Osceola properties) and Dupont (who had bought up the plant’s parent company) but by that time the plant had become obsolete and unprofitable. C&H and Dupont then proceeded to invest in the construction of a new modern plant deep within the Dollar Peninsula in a place that would become known as Senter…..”

One Last Look

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After close to a month I’m happy to say that its time to say goodbye to the Atlas Powder Plant and move one to the next exploration. But before we do I thought I’d through together a map of the Atlas Plant, put together from various sources across the net. …

Odds n Ends (p3)

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In the process of trying to finish up this very long series on the Atlas Powder Plant, we bring you to the remains of the plant’s original NG house. The Atlas Plant had managed a perfect safety record for its first half century of operation – a stupendous feat considering …

Odds n Ends (p2)

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Continuing from yesterday’s look at various odd and ends at the Atlas Powder Plant, we start today with a look at yet another building – the Dope House. It was here in this two story structure that the pulp “filler” used to soak up the nitro would be mixed together. …

Odds n Ends (p1)

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The Atlas Powder Plant is enormous, covering over 1800 acres and consisting of over 240 buildings. Its easily the largest site I have ever explored for CCE; requiring over five hours, 400 photos, and (so far) 15 posts to cover. But I’ve only just scratched the surface. Besides the dozen …

Change Houses

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Nitroglycerin had several bad habits, the least of which was its tendency to explode violently when agitated. Even more of a problem for workers at Atlas was the chemical’s seemingly natural attraction to their clothing. Even if you never handled the explosives directly, by the end of the day you’d …

The Age of the Loci

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While horse power in the rest of the country was quickly being replaced by the automobile, horses continued to serve the Atlas plant well past the war. Gas powered machines were too dangerous to have around the nitro, so until a safer alternative could be found the horses still had …

The Horse Barn

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Due to the vast size and scope of the Atlas facility – over a thousand acres and a hundred separate buildings – an internal narrow gauge railroad was built connecting the various components of the explosive making process. While steam powered trains were used to deliver supplies and ship out …

Powder Magazines

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After the dynamite sticks were completed and boxed, they would then be loaded onto narrow-gauge rail cars for transportation over to the storage buildings at the other side of the property. Atlas had three separate storage buildings (known as powder magazines) to insure an accident at one wouldn’t destroy the …

Box Making and Packing

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Now that the dynamite sticks have been produced, the final step in the process is boxing the dynamite up in preparation for shipping, to be sent across the peninsula to various Copper Country mines. The Packing House sat at the end of the powder line, receiving finished sticks of dynamite …

Shell Packing

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After being mixed into a Playdo-like consistency at the Mix House, the nitroglycerine was then loaded onto small rail cars and pushed by hand to the nearby Hall House. Here a series of machines would use the nitro mix to fill the empty paper tubes from the shell house to …

The Shell House (p2)

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After taking a look around on the inside of the Shell House, we decided to take it outside. The building was served by two sets of rails, one for each side of the building. From one end, the paper rolls and other materials were brought in from Warehouse Row on …

The Shell House (p1)

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During World War II most civilian explosives plants across the country were drafted into military service, producing explosive shells and other military explosives for the war effort. The Atlas Plant at Senter, however, had never been converted to ammunition production. It served the war effort in another capacity, producing the …

Where Nitro and Dope Become One

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After the nitro has been created and neutralized the next step in the dynamite production process is to mix the nitro with a fibrous filler material known in the biz as “dope”. Working much the same as sawdust, the dope soaks up the liquid nitro and creates a gelatinous material …

A Walk For the Angels

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After being neutralized at the Store House, the nitro had to be then sent on to the Mix House, where it was mixed with the “dope” to form the gelatinous filler for the dynamite sticks. This was by far the most dangerous job at Atlas, as the smallest of bumps …

The Store House

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After the nitro was manufactured at the NG House, it was sent down along a rubber lined trough down to the next step in the process – neutralization and storage. Here the nitro was washed with a solution of sodium carbonate to further stabilize it for storage and transportation. From …

Where Nitroglycerin is Made

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The inherent danger in explosive making can not be overstated; nitroglycerin – the explosive agent in dynamite – is extremely unstable at high temperatures and highly sensitive to physical shock. The elevated and almost constant risk of explosion prompted Atlas to put into effect a very rigorous set of safety …

The Power Plant

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Of course being so far removed from the rest of Copper Country civilization insured that the Atlas Plant had to construct its own power house to provide the amount of electric power and steam heat a facility of this size would need. But besides the production of electricity, this plant …

Warehouse Row

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Though used as a commuter train for Atlas employees, the Copper Range trains also delivered the wide range of exotic supplies that an explosives plant required. These supplies included a wide range of chemicals used to make the nitroglycerine along with a series of pulp materials used to make the …

In a Place with No Roads

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The mine’s of the Copper Country were generally self-reliant except for three things which they could not find along the peninsula: coal, iron, and explosives. For that time these items were transported here from elsewhere at high cost to the mine companies. In an attempt to lower these costs, the …

City in the Woods

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On some maps it doesn’t exist at all, on others it is simply an afterthought dot on a nameless road. Driving along that road yourself you pass a sign that proclaims “Senter”, but see very little that seems to legitimize the claim. Quickly you pass a collection of rotting and …