Copper Range Railroad

“While most of the major copper producers had been established and operating for years by the turn of the century, there was one area that had just gotten started. Before 1898 the only copper producing mine south of Houghton was the Atlantic Mine, which used its own short line railroad (the Atlantic and Lake Superior) to transport ore to its mill at Redridge. This all changed when in 1897 the Baltic Amygdaloid lode was discovered, prompting a second copper rush to the peninsula. Within a few years a collection of mines along the lode had been rushed into production. The DSS&A line ran too far east to be any good to these mines, but the newly formed Copper Range Railroad was poised to move in.

The Copper Range Railroad was formed in March of 1899, and by December of that same year had completed over 41 miles of track between it’s yard in Houghton and the line’s terminus in Mass City. The opening of Baltic, Trimountain and Champion mines just a few dozen miles east of the current main line prompted the railroad to build a branch to service those mines and beat DSS&A to the punch.”

Bridging the Gap (p1)

featured

The rugged spine of the Keweenaw drops precariously and quickly from its heights atop the Calumet Plateau down to the deep and dark waters of Torch Lake some several hundred feet below. Along the way the landscape is broken in two by the passage of the Keweenaw Fault, a deep …

The Champion Trestle

featured

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 because at the time of its construction, the only mines in operation in the region was the Atlantic, its …

A Copper Range Crossing

featured

Taking a trip up Lake Linden Hill a traveler will find themselves passing under a squat viaduct crossing the highway, a crossing which once carried the C&H Railroad across the road on its way northward towards the Ahmeek Mine. The crossing is perhaps the region’s youngest, its current incarnation having …

The Copper Range Depot

featured

When the Copper Range reached its northern terminus at Houghton it built itself a sprawling lakeside rail yard just west the city. It complimented that yard with a passenger depot, but not just any depot. While along the rest of its tracks the company erected rather modest wood framed one-story …

Anatomy of a Trestle (p2)

featured

While all the action on a train trestle may have occurred atop the rail deck and attached girders (the trestles superstructure), the real work occurred down on the valley’s floor, where the bridge’s compliment of steel piers (the sub structure) worked to hold the train and its cargo high above …

Anatomy of a Trestle (p1)

featured

The three Firesteel Trestles found along the old Copper Range line north of Lake Mine are messages in a bottle, a living example of the kind of turn of the century technology that helped transform the Copper Country into one of the country’s premier mining districts. While trestles like them …

The Firesteel Trestles

featured

The Copper Range Railroad began its journey to the Keweenaw from the small town of McKeever, at an intersection with the Chicago Minneapolis & St. Paul Railroad known as Range Junction. From there the line headed first northward towards Lake Mine before turning to the northeast to follow alongside the …

Mill Mine Junction (p3)

featured

While the Copper Range’s main yard was located down along the Houghton waterfront, one of the most active areas along the railroad’s 50+ miles of line could arguably be the crossing points at Mill Mine junction. In addition to the daily compliment of freight and passenger traffic, the junction also …

Mill Mine Junction (p2)

featured

The Copper Range Railroad’s main facilities were located along the Houghton waterfront, along an area of land now taken up by the row of condo’s and Lake Street. It was there that the railroad built its massive locomotive house and machine shops. The choice of Houghton was a rather obvious …

Mill Mine Junction (p1)

featured

When the Copper Range Railroad first blazed its trail through the southern range the region was still a wild and relatively empty land. The only mine operating in the area at the time was the Atlantic, and its own short-line hauler was the only rail line in existence. Initially the …

Old Mill Hill Trestle

featured

It would be the short lived South Pewabic Mine that first laid claim to this steep ridge line that rises up along Canal Road just west of Houghton. The company had planned to pillage the rich Pewabic Lode that the Quincy Mine had so successfully mined across the canal, along …

Laurium Coal

featured

Between the twin cities of Calumet and Laurium, its Calumet that’s generally considered to be the more industrious of the two. That makes sense, considering the presence of several railroads scattered along the villages outskirts (including the Mineral Range, H&C and Copper Range railyards). But by the turn of the …

Bridges at Woodside

featured

Looking down the Mineral Range towards Woodside After such a long (and exhausting) long form exploration at Baltic and the Stella Cheese Factory, I figured I’d take a break and throw up some short subjects for a few days. Today we take a trip back north, to the town of …

Crossing the Gorge (p2)

featured

We continue our look at the crossings over the Hungarian Gorge with the only bridge still standing across that gap – although not in its original form. For almost it’s entire length, the Copper Range right-of-way had been turned over to snowmobile traffic for the sake of tourism. This posthumous …

Railroads of the Copper Country (CRRR)

featured

a Copper Range engine The collection of Copper Country railroads which eventually became the Duluth South Shore & Atlantic connected the mines and communities of the area to the rest of the country. They transported ore and materials from mines along the Keweenaw to their mills along Torch Lake and …