Mohawk Mine

The last great copper find north of the Portage occurred in 1898 when – as legend has it – copper was discovered clinging to the roots of a fallen tree deep in the wilderness north of Calumet. The copper’s origin was a shallow outcropping of the Kearsarge Amygdaloid lode, a copper-rich lode just recently discovered a few miles to the south. Subsequent explorations in the area revealed a mile long strip of copper-rich rock sitting just below the surface. Quickly a pair of shafts were driven into the lode and the Mohawk Mining Company came into existence.

The Mohawk Mine was blessed from the start, the shallow and rich lode below its feet giving up over 6 million pounds of copper by 1903. The copper was coming so quick that the mine was forced to build its own stamp mill within a few years of sinking its first shafts. The Mohawk Mill was built alongside the Wolverine Mill at Gay, the two mills sharing both a pump-house and a superintendent. Back at the mine-site, the Mohawk’s initial shafts shared an impressive surface plant complete with Nordberg Hoist, boiler house, and compressor building. Connecting the mine and mill was the eleven-mile Mohawk and Traverse Bay Railroad, which was operated by the mine and also served the Wolverine Mine to the south.

Anatomy of an Engine House

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The Mohawk Mine would mine its Kearsarge Lode riches for 34 years, over which time it paid out nearly $15 million dollars to its shareholders. It was one of the region’s more successful operations, so much so that even after its closure during the Great Depression the Copper Range Company …

The Compressor Foundation

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At the beginning there were no compressor houses, due largely to the fact that there were no need for such machines considering air drills hadn’t been invented yet. Mines from this period relied on the rather archaic mining method of using chisels and sledgehammers. It wasn’t until the introduction of …

A View From the Hoist

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The massive stone and brick structure that we found ourselves surrounded by was somewhat of a rarity in the fading realms of the old copper empire. Hoists themselves were a common occurrence at mines since they were an important piece in the mining process. Yet for most of those old …

The Dungeons of the Mohawk Mine

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Though late to the party, the Mohawk Mine quickly rose to the ranks of a serious contender in the realm of Copper Country enterprises. This is just as evident today – more then a century since its conception – thanks to the massive size and scope of the ruins that …

At the Castle Walls

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The sixth shaft to be sunk along the Mohawk Mine’s portion of the Kearsarge Lode was its last. It represented the epitome of the mine’s technological and operational hubris – a shaft which single-handidly mined nearly a mile of the copper rich lode – a portion larger the entirety of the Wolverine …

Breaching the Walls of Mohawk No.6

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As mines matured so too did the scope of their endeavors, a development most noticeable when looking upon the mine’s surface plant. In their youth mines were obsessively utilitarian in practice, investing only in the most essential of equipment and infrastructure. At this stage surface plants were often small and …

The Missing Hoist

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There is a natural order that we have become accustomed to that guides our explorations. The first things we always find are the poor rock piles. They’re hard to miss. Then we stumble across the rock house. After looking around the rock house we usually find the shaft and collar …

A Peculiar Design

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It toiled on the surface for over three decades, pillaging the underground for precious metals one loaded skip at a time. It worked an expansive and deep foray into the earth, judging by the two massive rock piles that now flanked it. One day it simply stopped. Now the meek …

Mohawk Remains

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Most of the copper mined on the Keweenaw came from a narrow strip of land only 25 miles in length. At the northern end of this strip you will find the relatively successful Mohawk Mine. This sprawling mine (all six shafts of her) along with the Ahmeek Mine to the …

Along No. 5 Road

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the No. 5 Road runs along the #5 rockhouse What was left of the #6 Rock House sat at a crossroads. Nearby was the snowmobile trail coming up from Traprock valley on its way north to Mohawk. In fact these ruins were being used as a makeshift sign, as someone …

Crushing and Sorting

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Mining is simple. You drill holes into rock, you stuff explosives in those holes, and you blow the rock up into smaller pieces. From that point on everything at a mine – people, machines, buildings, and railroads – all work together to remove that rock from underground and separate any …

The Tower

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Once copper leaves it’s underground home, it must endure a rather torturous ordeal before becoming a polished ingot. For most rock, this process begins long before the steam stamps go to work. The minute it is pulled to the surface – and before it even sees the light of day …

Mohawk or Ahmeek?

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When we first found these ruins just south of Mohawk (including the impressive hoist building featured yesterday), we weren’t sure what mine we had found. Being so close to Mohawk, our first thought was that it was part of the Mohawk mine. But there are two mines in the vicinity …

Inside the Walls

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In Hoist Building Lineage I discussed the styles of hoist building construction and how they related to the time period in which they were built. The detailed masonry work and artistic detailed afforded to this hoist building puts it squarely in the Copper Country’s more prosperous time. This building was …

Lost Fortress

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the lost ruins of a Keweenaw castle Sitting just off the beaten path and hidden in the thick woodlands south of Mohawk stands an impressive monument of stone and concrete. Like an abandoned English castle, this ancient structure lies hidden within natures foliage-weaved shroud. Fighting our way through thick underbrush …