I have a unique perspective of the Allouez Ore Docks, and that’s my usual perch on the last light hoop. Find out how the docks sound when the lake freezes. What it’s like to watch a 1,000 foot ore carrier passing by in the fog. Finally, I go in detail to tell the history of this place, where boats and trains danced by the lake.
On your left you see Dock 6, retrofitted with conveyor belts, swarming with hard men and cold trains, bathed in orange light and smelling of taconite, oil, and sweat. On the right is a stripped, dark, empty, motionless chunk of steel jutting into Lake Superior, an island in so many ways. Read on to find out where the good days went.
Climbing that ladder let me see through the steam, by the orange light of the sunset dumping through the sooted skylights like the shop lights on the dead crane. It had been a while since it lifted a locomotive off its chasis, but the smell of grease was still strong enough to lubricate my sinuses
In nineteen-oh-nine when the winds blew colder,
Nine-hundred and twenty feet long…
In 1910, after three years of digging and blasting, workers finished their giant tunnel from West End right into downtown Duluth. It’s still there, hiding.
The Era of Steam grew forgetful in its old age and left one of its playthings behind. Mitchell Yards ran from 1906
I couldn’t have guessed, standing in stall one of two, that Singer Sewing Machines had built this semi-rural roundhouse on the edge of South Bend.
I take a below-freezing tour of a rail yard power station that dates back to 1924, a double-stacker that stands out in a small town.
The Selby Tunnel extended 1,500 feet under a chunk of downtown Saint Paul and some thought it was lost. It isn’t. Here’s what it looks like today.
Wooden platforms traced the feather beds of steel horses, the worn boards faintly glowing orange from the polluted light filtering through ancient cube glass. “Good night, Minneapolis, sleep sweet.”
“Well that’s that,” I thought, looking at the torch marks on the staircase zigzagging across pillars and pipes to the deck above. Still, I made the most out of this damaged relic of Wisconsin and Michigan mining history, circling the dock over the course of three winters to collect these photos and stories.