Champion Mill

“The Champion Mill was the last. The Atlantic Mill was the first, built along the red cliffs at Redrige in 1895. Soon others followed. As the mines along the south range (south of Houghton) opened in increasing numbers, the need for processing facilities became urgent. And while the mines to the north concentrated their mill operations along the shores of Torch Lake, these southern mines did not have the luxury of such a large and deep body of water nearby. They would have to settle for a more distant shore to build their mills – the Lake Superior Shore. Thanks to the Atlantic Mill already operating at Redridge, transportation routes had already been established from the south range to the shore and the small town of Redridge was alive and bustling. This opened up large runs of shore nearby, and other companies sooned followed to stake their claim. By 1901 the Atlantic was joined by the Baltic, and within the year three more were built. In total 5 mills lined the shore here including the Atlantic, Baltic, Adventure, Trimountain, and at the end of the line, the Champion. By the 60’s all would be gone – except the Champion.”

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Anatomy of a Mill (Rock Bins)

The first stop for any rock entering a Copper Country stamp mill is one of several large storage bins that sit up and behind the mill’s stamp batteries. Since the rock will be transported through the mill primarily by gravity, these bins sit at the highest point of the mill …

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Return to Champion Mill

I thought it fitting considering our return to the Champion Mine to take a another look at the Champion Mill as well. The Champion Mill site is one of our favorite – a place we like to return to as often as possible. It was a beautiful sunny spring day …

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Smokestacks and Stamp Sands

As we leave the Champion Mill, we take one last look at the monument that sits along with it – the smokestack. This is the first thing you see as you near the mill, and is one of your most obvious clues to this sites history. Like the Gay stack …

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Concrete Walls and Trestles

the most prominent feature at the champion mill, the long concrete wall along the back wall of the mill as seen here Moving up a terrace from the rows of pillars discussed earlier, we find ourselves atop a series of short rock piles. These piles are of poor rock, and …

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Pillars

Exiting the pump house, we found ourselves facing a long line of concrete pillars stretching out ahead of us. There were three sets laid out in parallel rows. The first consisted of a single square base – not a pillar really – sitting about two feet high. The next line …

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Feeding the Thirst

Stamp mills required large amounts of water to operate, in the order of tens of millions of gallons a day. While some mills such as those at Redridge relied on dams to create large reservoirs to supply their water needs, mills such as Champion simply pumped the needed water out …

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Buddles?

The Champion Mill, like any mill on the Keweenaw, works to separate copper from the rock that entombs it. First, copper rock is broken down into very small particles using stamps, then a series of machines work to separate the heavier copper from the much lighter rock. The copper is …

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The Big Picture

After making our way off the beach an atop the short ridge backing it, we had found ourselves at the center of an expansive concrete floor. It stretched away from us in all directions, dropping off to the lake behind us backed by high concrete walls in front of us. …

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Return to the Sea

The Champion Mill was the last. The Atlantic Mill was the first, built along the red cliffs at Redrige in 1895. Soon others followed. As the mines along the south range (south of Houghton) opened in increasing numbers, the need for processing facilities became urgent. And while the mines to …

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Sandstone and Concrete

We have often discussed the two faces of the Keweenaw. The difference between the west and east shores of the peninsula is almost as stark as night and day. The shoreline along the east side is relatively protected from the onslaught of the lake’s wind driven waves. There the shoreline …

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