Calumet & Hecla Railroad

“The C&H railroads main line ran down from the Conglomerate lode mines in Calumet to a stretch of C&H industrial complexes along Torch Lake. These included the stamp mill and reclamation plant at Lake Linden, as well as the Smelter and coal docks a mile south at Hubbell. As C&H opened new mines and acquired others, the line was extended to service them as well. New lines were built to Osceola, Centennial, Laurium and the Red Jacket shaft.

As C&H expanded northward with the Ahmeek, Kingston, and Gratiot Mines the railroad needed to expand with it. For this the company bought up the old Traprock Valley Railroad which ran from Lake Linden along the Traprock Valley up towards Copper City in the north. This almost doubled the railroads length, and allowed material to be transported from these northern mines without the need to travel across other railroad’s tracks. The success of the Ahmeek mine and the increased ore needing stamping prompted the addition of a line extending from the Traprock Valley junction south to the Ahmeek mill at Tamarack Mills. “

An LL&TL Trestle

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Today we take a quick look at what is somewhat of an oddity here in the Copper Country – a functioning railroad trestle. Though all of the CC’s common carrier and private railroads have all disappeared off the map (along with most of their infrastructure) there does remain one operational …

A Traprock Valley Railroad Trestle

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The Ahmeek Mine – a C&H prize from consolidation It was in 1923 that C&H’s dominance over the Copper Country reached its peak, resulting in its takeover of nearly every independent mine still operating in the Calumet region. Under its new “consolidated” moniker, C&H was now in complete control of …

The Rails that Remain (p2)

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For a transportation system that could only operate over rails, railroads were incredibly dynamic. In the case of C&H, the miles of tracks on which its train ran were constantly rearranged and rerouted in response to the companies ever changing needs. As new shafts opened, new spur lines were quickly …

The Rails that Remain (p1)

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Nestled between the towns of Calumet and Laurium lies a narrow strip of land some two miles in length on which was built the largest industrial complex the Keweenaw has ever known – the C&H surface plant. Built to serve the great Calumet Conglomerate lode which sat just below the …

A C&H Trestle

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It was November of 1887 that a major fire swept through the Calumet Conglomerate workings at C&H. Due to C&H’s heavy use of timbering underground, the fire spread quickly and was soon large enough to force the closure of the entire mine. Shafts were sealed in the hoped to smother …

Crossing the Gorge (p3)

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The Copper Range and C&H RR trestles over the Hungarian Gorge – with the towering Ahmeek Mill in the background Our last bridge to cross the Hungarian Gorge belonged to not one, but two separate railroads. When the Ahmeek Mine built it’s mill here at Tamarack City it was served …

In Constant Flux…

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the remains of the Osceola Mill at Tamarack City Copper Country railroads are always changing, almost on a yearly basis. The boom and bust cycle of copper mining meant that railroads were built and abandoned almost as quickly. Large distances of harsh and unforgiving terrain made distance trains had to …

Russell Snow Plow #2

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Railroads that operated in northern climates have to operate is some extreme conditions for a good 6 months of the year. This was especially true here in the Keweenaw, where snowfall can easily top 300 inches a year. For a time Copper Country railroads relied on the standard method of …

Railroads of the Copper Country (C&H)

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ore cars heading from a C&H rockhouse down to it’s mill on Torch Lake The Keweenaw waterway and interconnected Torch Lake provided readily available transportation for most goods and people leaving and entering the Copper Country. While an advantage to lakeside communities such as Lake Linden, Houghton and Dollar Bay, …