Tag Archives: Industrial

Death of Another Industry

This is the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp's corrugated paper mill in Ontonagon, or at least what's left of it. At its peak the mill employed nearly 200 people and manufactured over 800 daily tons of the box-making material, but today the large complex is in the process of being dismantled and scrapped, the last economic throes of an industry gasping its last breath. After nearly a century of existence (a mill was first built here in the 1920's) both the mill and its collection of jobs are gone, and the neighboring village of Ontonagon - a town that has had the misfortune of loosing not one but three industries during its existence - will soon find itself facing a future without an industry to support it.

The Power House

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The Copper Country’s reputation as a modern metropolis in contrast to a typical mining camp was strengthened by it’s early apportion of many civilized contrivances such as the telegraph, the street car, and the theater. Perhaps most important of all was the region’s early adoption of electric power, enabled by …

The Reclamation Plant (p2)

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In addition to the leaching and floatation processes a typical reclamation plant utilized two other types of machines in its efforts to reclaim lost copper – Ball Mills and Wilfley Tables. Wilfley tables were a local favorite in the Lake Superior copper region, and were already installed in most stamp …

The Reclamation Plant (p1)

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While the machines and equipment used in copper mills may have changed and evolved over the decades, the process itself remained relatively unchanged. Machines – first gravity powered and later driven by steam – would crush the copper bearing rock down into a fine gravel after which a series of …

The Shore Plant

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The Quincy Reclamation Plant was in fact two plants in one. The main plant sat up on shore, and was home to the series of ball mills, Wilfley tables, and floatation tanks used in the actual reclamation process. Responsibility for getting the stamp sands to that plant belonged to a …

Rails On Water

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After having been sucked up from the lake bottom by the dredge, stamp sands were then sent down along the pontoon line to shore to began the reclamation process. From our vantage point out near the old pontoon line we could see in the distance the bleached white remains of …

A Look Into the Past…

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Now that our exploration of the Stella Cheese Factory is complete, its time to take a step back and look at all that we have discovered. After exploring nearly a dozen rooms of these vast ruins I feel I can make an educated guess on just how the building was …

The Wax Room and Cooler

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Moving down the hallway past the stairs down to the basement we entered yet another room in the vast ruins we call the Stella Cheese Factory. This one featured a series a set of windows on its south wall and a series of openings along its west, one of which …

Boiler Room and More

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As with any smokestack, the Stella Cheese Factory’s stack was required to draw combustion gases up and out of the building. In the case of mine buildings, this combustion was used heat a boiler in the production of steam to feed the mine’s various steam engines. While the Stella plant …

The Cheese Room (and cars)

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Heading west out of the collection of vat rooms we had been exploring we pass under a gabled wall of sandstone which looks to have once been a mine building. Passing through the doorway we immediately noticed a change in building materials – and found ourselves in a very familiar …

The Upper Vat Rooms

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Making our way up the stairs from the lower level upwards we find ourselves walking up into the bright sunshine of day – as the room we entered was missing its roof. Just like the rooms below, this one also featured a collection of concrete tubs. But unlike the lower …

The Lower Vat Rooms

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The cheese making process can be broken down into four basic steps: curdling, drying, pressing, and ripening. With the addition of specific bacteria and a natural enzyme found in cow’s stomachs called rennin, milk is allowed to curdle in large vats. During the curdling process the milk separates into a …

The Stella Cheese Factory

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When we had first stumbled across the vast complex of ruins we weren’t sure what we had discovered – but had assumed it was connected with the Baltic Mine in some manner due to its location. (check out our first exploration of the ruins HERE) It sure appeared to come …

The Age of the Loci

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While horse power in the rest of the country was quickly being replaced by the automobile, horses continued to serve the Atlas plant well past the war. Gas powered machines were too dangerous to have around the nitro, so until a safer alternative could be found the horses still had …

Powder Magazines

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After the dynamite sticks were completed and boxed, they would then be loaded onto narrow-gauge rail cars for transportation over to the storage buildings at the other side of the property. Atlas had three separate storage buildings (known as powder magazines) to insure an accident at one wouldn’t destroy the …

Box Making and Packing

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Now that the dynamite sticks have been produced, the final step in the process is boxing the dynamite up in preparation for shipping, to be sent across the peninsula to various Copper Country mines. The Packing House sat at the end of the powder line, receiving finished sticks of dynamite …

Shell Packing

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After being mixed into a Playdo-like consistency at the Mix House, the nitroglycerine was then loaded onto small rail cars and pushed by hand to the nearby Hall House. Here a series of machines would use the nitro mix to fill the empty paper tubes from the shell house to …

The Shell House (p2)

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After taking a look around on the inside of the Shell House, we decided to take it outside. The building was served by two sets of rails, one for each side of the building. From one end, the paper rolls and other materials were brought in from Warehouse Row on …

The Shell House (p1)

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During World War II most civilian explosives plants across the country were drafted into military service, producing explosive shells and other military explosives for the war effort. The Atlas Plant at Senter, however, had never been converted to ammunition production. It served the war effort in another capacity, producing the …

Where Nitro and Dope Become One

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After the nitro has been created and neutralized the next step in the dynamite production process is to mix the nitro with a fibrous filler material known in the biz as “dope”. Working much the same as sawdust, the dope soaks up the liquid nitro and creates a gelatinous material …

A Walk For the Angels

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After being neutralized at the Store House, the nitro had to be then sent on to the Mix House, where it was mixed with the “dope” to form the gelatinous filler for the dynamite sticks. This was by far the most dangerous job at Atlas, as the smallest of bumps …

The Store House

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After the nitro was manufactured at the NG House, it was sent down along a rubber lined trough down to the next step in the process – neutralization and storage. Here the nitro was washed with a solution of sodium carbonate to further stabilize it for storage and transportation. From …

Where Nitroglycerin is Made

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The inherent danger in explosive making can not be overstated; nitroglycerin – the explosive agent in dynamite – is extremely unstable at high temperatures and highly sensitive to physical shock. The elevated and almost constant risk of explosion prompted Atlas to put into effect a very rigorous set of safety …

An Industrial Complex

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Sitting up the hill from the No. 3 shaft stand an impressive collection of sandstone and brick – a series of buildings we like to call the complex. At first glance it appeared to be one large building made up of a hodgepodge of hastily constructed additions. Upon closer examination …

City in the Woods

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On some maps it doesn’t exist at all, on others it is simply an afterthought dot on a nameless road. Driving along that road yourself you pass a sign that proclaims “Senter”, but see very little that seems to legitimize the claim. Quickly you pass a collection of rotting and …