Mohawk Mill

“It is a strangely off-worldly experience to step out from the stamp mill ruins and onto the barren landscape of the sands. Gazing out across its desolate expanse stretching towards the horizon, you can’t help but feel as if you are standing on another planet. In the far distance we can make out a blue sliver of Superior, but the stark gray of the sands encompass our vision. The sands roll like waves across the landscape, sculpted by the wind and water of generations. Short dunes line the horizon, and along the lake steep cliffs drop off into the water. And across it all, not a single tree, or bush, or even weed grows. Completely barren.”

The Stamp Floor

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Leaving the engine house, we take another short climb up to the Mohawk Mill’s final floor. Here is where the mill’s four stamps would have been located, along with the massive rock bins that would have sat behind him. Today this floor reveals almost no sign of either, consisting entirely …

The Engine House

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For a time I was under the impression that the wash tables and jigs inside a mill were run off of a belt and pulley system powered (somehow) by the stamps themselves. After doing a much more thorough investigation of stamp technology I realized that wasn’t the case. The valve …

The Upper Floors

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Playing the role of both friend in foe in the tale of the Copper Empire is the omnipresent force of gravity. Out at the mine this ever present force required the installation of large and powerful machinery to properly overcome – at a large cost to the company. The deeper …

The Wash Floor

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As I left off during my Anatomy of a Mill series I was turning towards the last stage of the process: the wash floor. Here an attempt was made to separate the smallest copper particles still left in the slimes using pieces of equipment known as “slime tables”. In most …

The Mineral House

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After leaving the enigmatic concrete tub behind, we took a short stroll over to another large concrete remnant sitting atop the sands nearby. We had featured this before on our last trip here, but I had failed to take very many photos of it. Back then I resorted to drawing …

The Concrete Tub

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Approaching the Mohawk Mill from the direction of the sands we began running into ruins a good distance from the old mill’s foundation. The first was what you see above, what I like to call the concrete tub. We found this baby on our first outing here – but I …

A Tale of Two Launders

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After scaling the stamp sand cliffs along the shore, we found ourselves standing on the lip of a vast barren landscape known as the Gay Sands. Of course we have been to these sands before, but each time their vast size and scope never fail to impress us. In the …

Yet Another Beach Stroll

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Along the Keweenaw the big lake encounters one of four basic types of topography along the shore. The most common is one dominated by large rocky outcroppings consisting of basalt (either Copper Harbor Conglomerate or Portage Lake Volcanic). Second is the cobblestone variety, consisting of a beach of small to …

Anatomy of a Mill (p1)

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In the beginning of the Copper Empire, very little importance was put on milling. It was the mines themselves that produced copper, usually in the form of large pieces known as mass (or barrel) copper. These large pieces required no milling, and fetched high prices out east. Milling at that …

Mohawk Mill Pump House

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This post was originally written not knowing that the ruins here are in fact those of the Mohawk Mill’s Pump House. Scroll down for an update Sitting just outside of Gay – north of the vast expanse of stamp sands along the shore – the fast and shallow Tobacco river …

Dock

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in service to the copper empire, perhaps… The Copper Country is a one industry town. For over a century the copper mine was king, and all things across the peninsula existed to serve it. Railroads existed to transport copper. Towns existed to house the workers. Businesses existed to serve the …

Along the Shore

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Dropping down from the launder, we make our way down the cliff face to the stamp sand beach at its base. North of here the stamp sand beach seems to stop, and instead the usual rocky Superior shore emerges. To the south, however, lies a different world. As far as …

The Tunnel

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The great expanse of stamp sands we currently were standing on, all originated from the Mohawk mill behind us. The water/stamp sand solution that exited the stamp mill was carried by water chutes (called launders) to the lake’s edge where they were dumped. Over time, the stamp sands would fill …

The Barren Beach

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It is a strangely off-worldly experience to step out from the stamp mill ruins and onto the barren landscape of the sands. Gazing out across its desolate expanse stretching towards the horizon, you can’t help but feel as if you are standing on another planet. In the far distance we …

The Fallen Hopper

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Sitting among the scattered remains of the Mohawk Stamp Mill was a large concrete monolith. Apparently single block of concrete a good 15 feet in height and 30 feet in length, this structure sat haphazardly upon the ruins – almost as if it was simply dropped there. It looked out …

The Lower Level

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the smokestack from the lower level As we neared the edge of the second level, we looked down across a zone of destruction. The lower level was a mess, a tangle of concrete, reinforcing bars, steel beams, cables, and any other industrial material you could think of. There were no …

The Second Level

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the second level, as viewed from the third Stamps were large, heavy, and cumbersome pieces of equipment. Most mills only had a few, and only the real profitable mines (such as C&H) could install more. The Mohawk Mill had 4 stamps. Only question was: where were they? Not that we …

Stamps, Jigs, and Wifleys

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The purpose of the Mohawk Mill – as with any stamp mill – was to separate the copper from the rock that incased it. The process relied on the differing physical properties of the two substances, specifically the weight and hardness. Copper was of a greater density then the igneous …

The Pump House

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This first level we found ourselves on was devoid of much detail. Mostly a flat concrete surface, it was dotted in places with round holes that seemed to drop into an opening below our feet. It was too dark inside this opening to see any detail and the hole was …

The First Level

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The monolithic Gay stack that stood impressively above our heads seemed to be on its own. Besides a cement “flu” that arched down from the stack to the ground, no other buildings or ruins could be seen around it. Stamp Mills relied on steam power to drive the stamps, and …

Where Stamp Mills Roam

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Getting the copper out from the underground is only the first step in the copper production process. The copper that leaves the mine is encased in a tomb of igneous rock, which needs to be removed. This process is carried out at the stamp mill. Copper rock removed from mines …

The Smokestack

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a monument to another time They stand tall and proud across the copper country landscape. Seemingly constructed as impressive monuments to an industrialized time, their gray columns rise high above the surrounding forests and towns. Once these pillars coughed out over the land, spewing black smoke into the air in …