Mines

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    A Row of Foundations

    The Ahmeek Mine was the savior that C&H had desperately been searching for. As production began to wane along the great Calumet Conglomerate lode the company began a hectic search for the next gr…

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    Boiler House in C

    Approaching the town of Rockland from the east you find yourself traveling between a pair of parallel rugged hills. The hill to the south is marked on maps as South Bluff, while its neighbor to the no…

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    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 of where the region’s main population centers are now located. That’s …

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    Dark Tunnels

    the basement tunnel to the hoist The identity of the mystery building yet to be determined, turned our attention back to the goal at hand: finding the hoist. While we knew that the hoist had to be in …

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    Re-alignments

    The old C&H blacksmith shop along the Hecla surface plant In the previous series I made an observation about the fluidity of railroads and their ability to adapt to changing needs. At the C&…

The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to one of the largest deposits of native copper to be found anywhere in the world. For centuries the native peoples of this region mined the red metal by means of shallow hand-dug pits, fashioning the copper into tools and jewelry. When European settlers began to arrive to the area in the early 1800’s they too quickly discovered the vast copper riches found in the area, most notably in the form of a giant copper boulder found along the banks of the Ontonagon River.

With the peninsula’s acquisition by the fledging state of Michigan in the middle of the century, state geologist Douglass Houghton – who had seen the great Ontonagon boulder first hand – was dispatched to discover the true nature of the copper riches the state had apparently inherited. Mr. Houghton’s cautious but optimistic report would precipitate a massive rush of prospectors and investors to the peninsula. The confluence of mine companies that would soon set up shop up and down the Keweenaw’s rugged hills and valleys would give birth to the region’s alter ego: The Copper Country.

The Quincy Method (p4)

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As we’ve explored the soaring frame of the Quincy No.2 Shaft / Rockhouse we’ve largely concentrated our efforts on the rock handling components of the grand structure. Yet as its name implies the building has a secondary purpose as well, something a bit less extravagant as rock handling but important none-the-less. …

The Quincy Method (p3)

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Mining at its most basic level is nothing more than an exercise in transporting rock from one point to another. This process begins underground soon after the rock is blasted free from its subterrarian home as it is loaded into tram cars for transportation towards the nearest shaft. There it is transferred into skips …

The Quincy Method (p2)

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The Quincy Mine’s first foray into placing a rockhouse into its shafthouse was at the old Pewabic No.6, a shaft Quincy had acquired when it purchased its old neighbor in 1891. Known as the “North Quincy”, this shaft was far removed from the rest of the mine’s surface plant including its …

The Quincy Method (p1)

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In its infancy, copper mining in the Keweenaw was an especially labor intensive enterprise. In its most simplest form, mining was nothing more then hole digging and with little technological assistance available at the time those holes were dug primarily with men with shovels and wheelbarrows. When rock was encountered the shovels gave …

The Life and Times of Quincy No.2

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She came into this world in 1856, offspring to a struggling mine trying desperately to make ends meet. She was a twin, her sister next door erected the same year. She wasn’t the mine’s first, and despite her name wasn’t its second either. The Quincy Mine at the time already …

Mining Moderne

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The Copper Empire lasted for over a century and a half – its dominion covering several major periods of American history. It was front in center in the country’s Gilded Age of industry, provided copper for two world wars and the war between the states, limped its way through the …

The Lands of the Phoenix (p2)

Lands of the Phoenix Part Two

As with most Keweenaw mining towns, the community of Phoenix along the Cliff Range ebbed and flowed along with the fortunes of the copper mines at its doorstep. The town’s overseers – the Phoenix Mining Company – toiled away at its trio of mines on and off for nearly forty years until …

The Lands of the Phoenix (p1)

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The Eagle River is one of the Keweenaw’s longest natural waterways, running over 10 miles from its marshy headwaters deep inside the peninsula’s interior to its Lake Superior outlet along the sand dunes of the identically named town of Eagle River. While unremarkable for most of its length, it grandeur …

The Cliff Range

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“The spot where I stood was a bare flat rock, the highest peak of the Keweenaw Point, upon Lease, No. 10, belonging to the Albion Mining Company. I had heard this view glowingly described, but my imagination had formed no conception of its grandeur. I have stood upon the hills …

The C&H Bathhouse

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It’s a rather unassuming structure, the squat brick building found at the corner of the US41 / M26 junction in Laurium. Things aren’t helped by the fact that its facade is largely blocked by several bushy trees along its front – providing a natural camouflage that shields the shy building from prying …

An American LaFrance in Calumet

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In 1873 a man by the name of Truckson LaFrance founded the LaFrance Manufacturing company, which primarily built hand-powered fire fighting equipment. With the popularity of steam-powered equipment rising, LaFrance expanded its operations into the new field and began building steam powered engines of its own. In 1903 the company merged with the …

The Winona Mine (p5)

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The following series is written, photographed, and illustrated by long time CCE reader and fellow Copper Country Explorer Ian Tomashik. Thank you Ian! By 1909, the Winona mine looked much as it does in the above photo (Click on the image to view full size), taken from the top of …

The Winona Mine (p4)

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The following series is written, photographed, and illustrated by long time CCE reader and fellow Copper Country Explorer Ian Tomashik. Thank you Ian! My exploration of Winona #4 was a far different experience. My visit to shaft #3 turned into a scientific investigation, while my visit to shaft #4 was …

The Winona Mine (p3)

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The following series is written, photographed, and illustrated by long time CCE reader and fellow Copper Country Explorer Ian Tomashik. Thank you Ian! The Winona mine, to accommodate its religious reliance on electric machinery, erected a massive engine house near shaft #3 to house several generators and the mine’s compressor. …

The Winona Mine (p2)

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The following series is written, photographed, and illustrated by long time CCE reader and fellow Copper Country Explorer Ian Tomashik. Thank you Ian! I began my Winona exploration at shaft #3, the easternmost, mainly because it was close to the main road through Winona Loc. and easiest to access. I …

The Winona Mine (p1)

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After our introduction to the town of Winona courtesy fellow CC explorer Jim Fruehauf, we now delve even deeper into the region and its history thanks to another long time reader and CC enthusiast – Ian Tomashik. Ian has contributed to CCE many times before, including a lengthy write-up of the Hancock Mine as well as …

Lost But Not Forgotten

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Several years back I received in the mail a package containing a collection of photos, real photos on real photo paper complete with the negatives neatly sealed in little bags. On the back of the photos were hand-written notes detailing the exploration of an old mining town that today has largely …

The Immortal Remains

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The Conglomerate Mine was the Delaware’s last hope, but it was attempt that was equally as short lived as its predecessors. In just four short years the company burned through over a million dollars of capital with no profit to be made. It would close its doors in 1884 and …

Worth the Price of Admission (p2)

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While impressive, the old pump house ruins aren’t the only remains of the Conglomerate Mine operation to be found along the Delaware Mine surface tour. If you continue on past those ruins and follow the marked path farther into the surrounding forest you’ll soon find yourself looking out at an even …

Worth the Price of Admission (p1)

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Traveling into the Keweenaw northern reaches will eventually bring you to a large sign along the road adorned with the a small wooden shaft house. The sign directs your attention down a side road, noting the presence of a mine tour. Following its advice you find yourself rumbling along an …

Anatomy of a Boiler House (p2)

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When we last left out unsung hero of the steam age we had finished exploring one of the building’s four main building blocks. While the design, layout, and equipment used within boiler houses varied, all catered to these basic components of steam production in one way or another. Essentially these components boil …

Anatomy of a Boiler House (p1)

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In the twilight years of the Victorian Age the great industrial revolution had given birth to some of the largest and most impressive steam powered engines the world had ever seen.  These monstrous machines could haul thousands of tons of freight by rail, cross the Atlantic in days, power cities, and haul rock from …

Atop the Conglomerate

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Explore the vast industrial landscape that was the C&H Conglomerate Surface Plant with this 1930s era aerial image. Hover over points of interest to learn more, or click on them to explore further.

Little Houses on the Industrial Prairie

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As Shop Street fades away along the outskirts of newly built 6th Street Extension the industrial corridor accompanying that road also transitions away as the 19th century makes way for the 21st and industry moves aside for the bastion of modern retail – the strip mall. Though the sun has set …

The Shops of Shop Street

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Both the massive bulk of C&H’s machine shop and its No.1 warehouse stand tall along Mine Street, an avenue so named because it once marked the boundary between C&H’s conglomerate surface plant and the residential neighborhood bordering its eastern front – a community historically known as Hecla Location. These buildings’ …