Centennial Mine

The Centennial Mine has a long and sordid past spanning over a century of Copper Country history. It 1863 it began its life as the Schoolcraft Mine working the northern extension of the great Calumet Conglomerate Lode. A decade later the mine went bankrupt, finding its section of the great lode with far less copper than it had hoped. In 1876 the mine began its second life as the newly formed Centennial Mining Company . This new endeavor re-opened the Schoolcraft’s original workings as well as opening several new shafts along the adjacent Osceola Amygdaloid lode. By 1896 the mine had entered yet another stage, this time as the Centennial Copper Company. The new company shut down all the mines previous shafts and began sinking brand-new shafts into the newly discovered Kearsarge Amygdaloid lode. The third time was the charm as this new lode proved highly profitable. The mine continued operations (later under C&H control) for several decades, closing down during the Depression.

Of all the Centennial’s seven shafts, the No. 2 was by far the most productive. Working in tandem with the No. 1 shaft – which sat less then a hundred feed to its south – these two Kearsarge Lode shafts were able to produce an average of 2 million pounds of copper a year. The unique tandem shaft set-up meant a duplicate surface plant of hoist engines, shaft houses, and compressor buildings. The two shafts were served by a common boiler plant, dry house, and machine shop. While the mine fell victim to the Depression, the No. 2 was able to re-open during the Second World War to help supply copper for the war effort. The No. 2 would continue to serve is new owner – C&H – for another 22 years until it was closed down for good in 1966.

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 Money Maker (p2)

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The old Centennial Mine made numerous attempts to locate copper riches on its property, most of them failures. It wasn’t until the struggling mine took a stab at the short section of the Kearsarge Lode running across its lands that success would finally arrive. This was the No.2 shaft, an …

The Money Maker (p1)

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The narrow lands of the old Schoolcraft Mine property were surrounded on all sides by mines of a higher caliber, mines such as the Tamarack and C&H which seemed to find success at every turn. In contrast the  Schoolcraft – and its Centennial heir – never seemed to be so …

And So It Goes…

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History endures. It cannot be easily brushed aside, erased, or lost. It survives in the books and newspapers that recorded it and through the photos and films that documented it. It survives through the paintings and sculptures that interpreted it, and in the monuments and temples built to honor it. …

Scrapbook V: Inside Centennial

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Our discussion of the Centennial here as of late has gotten a lot of attention out there in reader-ville. It seems that almost everyone has a Centennial Mine experience out there and want to share. After I featured Jay’s photos earlier in the week, I received a panoramic image of …

Centennial No. 3 Panoramic

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click on the image to view a panoramic of the Centennial No. 3 grounds, photographed by a fellow explorer After yesterday’s feature on the Centennial No. 3 (as photographed by Jay Balliet), I got a few more photos of the site in my inbox. This has got to be the …

Copper Country Scrapbook IV

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Today for Copper Country Scrapbook I present the Centennial No. 3 – as seen by fellow explorer Jay Balliet. He’s taken a great deal of photos of this baby, which is a good thing since we haven’t gotten out to it yet. Although I’ve featured its big brother on this …

In the Way

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the half-demolished remains of the hoist house, as seen from the nearby landfill The mysteries of the inside solved, we turned our attention back outside. This was only the rear addition to a much larger building, at least what was once a much larger building. We follow the north wall …

The Details

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Not a steam engine When we first entered the hoist building at Centennial, we had thought that we had found two steam engines. Everything we found seemed to back up our assumption. A large pipe entered the building from the outside, for steam most likely. These lines continued inside the …

A Look Inside

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As we stepped through the door to the Hoist building at Centennial, we felt like we stepping into a post apocalyptic ruin. Almost everything seemed to have been left exactly as it was a half century ago, like the workers simply left at the end of the day but never …

A Monument in the Trees

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Centennial Mine, as seen from the Copper Range Line As the Copper Range railroad turns north from Calumet and heads out to the mines along the Allouez gap, it first passes by the town and mine at Centennial. As we follow the same route today – now a snowmobile trail …

Outhouse

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walking away from the rock house on the old railroad grade ore cars once used It was a bit of a walk to get out to the gray building hidden in the woods. We followed a graded rise out across a landscape that had become increasingly swampy and wet. We …

And All the Rest…

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an empty fire hydrant sits alone in the field in front of the Centennial dry By now it was getting colder, and we could sense the approaching storm. Moving away from the cable stands our gaze quickly turned to the tangle of metal and wood just outside the hoist building. …

Still Standing

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for the first time, cable stands that are still standing We passed the headframe and made our way towards the hoist building a few hundred yards ahead. Sitting in the gap were a pair of cable stands, the second a few dozen feet shorted then the first. Although seemingly not …

Headframe

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the Centennial headframe, standing by silent While the similarities between where we currently stood and the Kingston ruins to the north, there was one obvious difference. Here the impressive mass of the superstructure still remained above our heads. Probably a good 7 stories above our heads, the steel sheathed mammoth …

From the Same Mold

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It was an odd feeling that washed over us as we approached the base of the Centennial rock house – almost as if we had been there before. Above our head sat a large cylindrical bin that once stored copper rock waiting to be sent off to the mill. (It …

Waste’s End

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There are two types of rock underground – the type of rock that makes money and everything else. Copper may be more abundant here then anywhere else, but even here it’s a minority. Within the lodes that it calls home, Copper is scattered about in small pockets and thin veins …

Skip Road

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We made our way forward to the front of the collar house. Turning the corner we could see the monolithic rock house standing tall only a hundred or so feet away. From this angle (and this close) the building looked massive. It rose high above our heads and if we …

Behind the Collar House

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the Centennial head frame high above the collarhouse Sitting on those snow-covered rails, our mystery machine seemed to be patiently waiting its return to the underground it called home. Only the loading door ahead of it was closed, and the collar house beyond silent and empty. It’s destiny now seemed …

Left Behind

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The labored and prolonged death of the copper empire had been telegraphed years ahead of time. By the end of the Second World War the writing was on the wall, and the next 30 years was nothing but an exasperated epitaph. By feeding off the remains of less fortunate mines, …