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Atlas Stared

“Man has set for himself the goal of conquering the world but in the processes loses his soul.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and historian.

Graffiti on the Blacksmith’s Door-(C)SUSBTREET.org

The doorframes become more askew every year as the buildings slip downward into the gulch at different rates. This seems to be the part of the mine ruins where transients leave their marks. The graffiti dated back to the 1970s, at least.

Strike Prices

A whiteboard in the quiet turbine room lays it all out… you should sell.

Old Sign

This sign was important when trains ran the length of the elevator.

Dry House Basin

A porcelain basin in the locker room is detached, but shows excellent patina. I hope when the machine shop is repurposed that this can be saved.

Patterns and Dilbert

A calendar and comic strip decorate the current pattern shelf in the building which was a coffin factory.

Ava

I liked the color of her hair against the rusty rock house and blue winter sky.

Dripping Rock Chute

Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.

Lever

Depending on the position of the valve, flour could be routed from the filtering process back into a mill.

101-B

An original stencil-brushed sign.

Broken Railing

“Cutting torch.” The remains of a catwalk now leads to void on the sintering floor, four stories over the next solid footing. Only two staircases led to the top floor, some half dozen others were cut off for scrap.

Kernel Crusher

When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.

Dear Delivery People

Miscellaneous math and strange instructions remain all across the shipment section walls. Sadly, this section likely fell into disrepair before the others.

Set the Pie on the Sill

In this ghost town where there were brick, wooden, and dirt-brick buildings, the latter fared the best by far.

Hookup

The power gauge showed… broken.

Mockstock

Shelves in in the coloring department, where hundreds of different mixer lids are splashed with hardened glass dyes. Color thanks to a yellow-tinted skylight.

Pier Tree

Between elevators, a single tree has taken root. I think it’s growing out of a rail grade, so the seed might have fallen off of a train.

Outbuilding (Fomapan 100)

Looking through a launcher doorway at an outbuilding… the fire truck garage, if I recall correctly. Fomapan medium format in Pentax 67.

Fume Lines

One level below where the cotton was nitrated, the fumes must have been powerful. This floor had several massive ventilation fans in its walls.

Gate 5C

It’s not hard to see how Germany could turn these into a prison overnight.

35 Ton Crane

A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.

765pOK704

Coded writing on a pillar in one of the assembly buildings.

Belt Thrower

A wounded flour mill, muscled into the corner to keep out of the way.

Basket II

A super-shallow depth of field shot on the Leica Summilux.

197

In the mine offices, hooks and a board with numbers was the system to keep track of who was in the mine and who was safe.

Dogfoot

When you watch TV from the jars, it seems so much more real, they tell me.

King- Abandoned Scuba Building

What appears to be a building once associated with King Elevator is now a defunct scuba company. To the right of the frame you can see how the concrete on the elevator is beginning to show its rebar.

Imperial Brewery

Note the severed skyway–that led to a set of grain elevators that have since been demolished.

Ghost Road III

Taconite Harbor’s main road, now overgrown and leading to nothing. Just asphalt between caved-in curbs.

Electric Steel Garden

A little sun and a little moisture sprouted this grass in the middle of the steel silos, in the midst of Minneapolis’ “graffiti graveyard”. Two images of time: nature growing through industry and rust dissolving old art in the elements.

Under Dock Two

The conveyor between the shore and Dock 2. Note the gap in the aerial walkway that used to connect Dock 4 to the rest of the complex.

Chair Doe

Hard to find your seat when it doesn’t know its own name.

RotoGrate Technicolor

A colorful boiler is a happy boiler! RotoGrate systems remove ashes from the boiler firebox by revolving the bottom of the system to let the fly ash drop into a hopper. This greatly increases boiler efficiency.

Basket IV

Chains connected hooked baskets and lockers to hoist up clothes and helmets when they were above ground. Whether wet with sweat or dry street clothes, the system worked to unclutter lockers and maintain air circulation around subterranean uniforms.

1952 Highrises

Two of the remaining four towers in the projects. Throughout our time there we saw and heard squatters inside and chose not to go in. What do you call a smart choice made in the midst of a dumb choice? There should be a word for that.

Waterlogged Logbook

I had to search the shelves a while to find this old logbook. The open page lists changes in stock numbers for Cutler Hammer Coils, and one row says that a new coil was installed on the black larry. The larry is the machine that loads coke ovens.

Conveyor Bend

A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.

King- Rooftop (Arista 100)

The roof of the King Elevator had two small vents and a terrific view of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Arista 100 in 120.

MPE3- Conveyor Drives

A closeup of the pulleys atop Manitoba Pool #3 which once pulled conveyor belts full of grain across the cupola building as it was sorted into the silos below.

Row 189

This machine was last overhauled in February 1955, and last turned out Crepe silk, probably dress material.

Blown Gauges

Cracked gauges have a certain quality that hearkens to movies, I think. One can imagine the gauges going off the scales before dramatically cracking, throwing glass right at the camera. This damage, however, is unfortunate vandalism.

Ava

Ava on an upper catwalk.

One Ear

Standing between pockets 1 and 2. You brought hearing protection, right?

Kiln Stacks

Looking at the rear of the mill, through dead vines and barbed wire.

Old Growth

Some of the plants growing out of the walls of the power plant.

Spring Melt and Chutes

Wind took the spring melt on the trees growing in taconite pellets and made it airborne. Loading chutes in the background.

Crating Building

The building on the right was where parts not assembled onto vehicles would be set in crates for shipment.

Conveyor 13

One of thousands in the complex. Part of a series of photographs where I capture the number “13” in industrial settings.

Microphone

A familiar scene in Control Tower B, though the microphone has not been used for years.

Escape Ladder

If there were no other options, operators could climb this ladder from the Communications Room to the surface, after opening two heavy steel hatches, of course.

Basket I

Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.

Waders Where

When boiling beet juice accidentally spills from the gas-fired tanks two feet away, you better be wearing some of these, or bye-bye legs.

Oberon, MB- Field Row

The old offices for the Oberon Elevator are defunct, but seem to be holding up to the brutal prairie snows and winds. Medium Format.

Torn-Up Tiles III

The snowflake (?) patterns were hand-laid throughout the hospital. It is possible some or all of these tiles were laid by patients, as it is on record that they were used for simple tasks in the name of occupational therapy.

Bunk House Bench-(C)SUSBTREET.org

Looking through the open windows of the Bunk House toward what I think is the outhouse for the miners. There’s a big bench in the middle of the bunk house that was used as dinner table.

Cerro Cochino

This peak is a little over 7,000 feet high and is a popular hiking spot. As a bulky Minnesotan who is better built for an arctic expedition, I stuck to the mesa.

Abandoned Switch

A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.

Tires from Twohy

A stack of tires, some of which are destined for the roof. For some reason, a hundred old tires adorn the roof of the Twohy.

Moss Drips

Moss growing where the sunlight sneaks through the boarded windows.

Toy Piano

The stage had two pianos. Did they ever duel?

Colorful Night

At night the city lights blast through the broken windows, casting crazy colors through the off-white interior of the mill.

13th Century Wall

Archeologists believe the great house on the mesa was rebuilt shortly before it was abandoned in the 13th Century AD. Tri-X 400 Film, haphazardly self developed.

Building 429

A rail maintenance building. I liked the color of the tree against the peeling red paint.

Chair Laid Bare

When you’re incoming’s piling up with paint chips, what’s one to do? Call in a sick?

Bids

A bank of vertical filing cabinets, probably dating to National Guard days.

Grippers

Robotic pincers to move molten rods of glass between machines.

Film: Raven Totem

I slid into the mill through the top floor, near where the rock-grinding ball mills were left to rust. I look around, taking in the most intact gold mill I’ve ever explored. Movement attracted my eye to the ceiling, where I found something staring back, a raven was observing me with some interest. It had been a while since I have brushed up on the folklore and mythology, but I took it as a good sign. Leica/Summilux 35/Ektar 100

East Portal

The portal facing Taconite Harbor (at a healthy distance) is mostly closed. Some kids put bullet holes in it. Shooting down a long tunnel is extremely dangerous, and you should not do it, obviously. Mamiya 6/Portra 160

MPE3- Ladder

A custom ladder to cross conveyor belts on the work floor.

Signals

In case power was lost, this manual signal could direct trains on and off the taconite trestle. Turning the pole would change the color of the light on top and the shape of the metal flags.

Milwaukee Road Boxcar

Just across the North Dakota border, a rusty Milwaukee Road boxcar sits where it was shoved off the mainline. The grain elevator in the background marks the tracks, which is still used by BNSF.

Crane View

From the loftily perspective of the crane cab, I thought about how nice it would have been to have been here when there was equipment to share the space. This begs the question, who took out the equipment?

Door C

A heavy steel rail door to help funnel explosions upward, rather than outward.

Mitchell Avenue of Mitchell, Minn.

Mitchell Avenue, the main drag of a ghost town. Traces of asphalt and curbs are barely visible through patches of grass. In the old plan of the town, Mitchell Hotel would be to my direct left in this scene, and about 10 houses would flank this street to the left and right.

Be C- Watch You- Step

A cracked sign at dock-level, where loading boats would be tied below the taconite conveyors. All across the surface of the concrete dock were taconite pellets, like slippery little marbles. One wrong step could put a worker in the water, which is a bad, bad place to be.

Hand

Hunter climbing up to the coal tower.

Ghosts of Munro Mining Co

Rogers Mine is one of the most structurally sound mines in the Iron River area that isn’t part of a museum.

Cracked Glass Signal – (C)SUBSTREET

A broken signal light that would indicate to incoming engineers and brakemen the status of the dock deck. The streetlight-style lighting is a retrofit; originally the top of the dock would be lit by strings of lights suspended by towers on each side of the deck… a poor system according to the workers at Allouez who had the same lights.