At the end of a conveyor belt and poised over a loading station, it’s easy to image the tinny sound of chicken feed sliding across the metal. Like sand on the old-fashioned stainless steel playground slides.
Dust explosions were a real risk for grain mills. These funnels helped to filter the air in the mill.
On first impression it might look like a funky mailbox, but trust me on this one; it’s a flour bolter chute. In flour milling, “bolting” means sifting the flour through successively smaller screens.
This is where the lime would spill out.
Across the walls of the brick repair shop, near where men and machine entered Shaft No. 3, vines, pipes, and graffiti battle unknowingly for visual prominence.
It is unclear whether this area was for coal dumping or ore dumping, though the huge dents in the steel plating suggests the latter.
Raab strolling where the coal and ore would be dumped by trains that traveled along the top of the concrete pilings.
A staircase leads behind three of the dock chutes, seemingly to nowhere. The lower on the left held one end of a string of lights above the dock.
A closeup of a flour chute.
A little ice and snow made work at Taconite Harbor much more dangerous.
Looking into the engine works from the concrete addition.
Installed in 1904 at the center of the plant, this is one of two batteries of boilers. Being in Oshkosh, heat was very important to keeping labor moving in the cold months.
Snow flies across the frame as the sunken cribbing freezes bellow the concrete.
Before developers saw to cut and cut the flour mills inside Pillsbury, they stood at the ready beside various purposeful chutes the traversed the floors of between sorters. These machines were belt-driven by the power of Pillsbury’s Mississippi headraces and turbines, the force of which notoriously shook the building’s foundations themselves. The wheels would change the grade of the flour, or the size of the dust produced from crushing the kernels.
A broken window looking through the First Aid Room and into the Control Room in charge of directing grain into ships. You can see one of the large conveyors on the right, clad in green. Chutes and staircases intertwine seemingly randomly through the big empty spaces.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
The basement of the laboratories is the home of the ore grinder. I’m sure it was noisy.
Sunrise over Mill Hell, and all of Kurth’s various skyways. The elevators in the foreground date to the mid-1920s, Electric Steel is behind and is a little earlier than that.
The iconic outline of a prairie sentinel. Quintessential rural industrial architecture.
Two steel hoppers supported by counterweights and springs, which were used to weigh incoming grain loads before being deposited in the silos beneath this floor. Garner is another way to say “big measuring tank”, if you were wondering. I fell in love with all the tubes and chutes on this floor.
Like a grave marker, a single post remembers where Dock 3 stood on the bay.
Sunset through a stained window in the headhouse made the floor feel like a heavy industrial Disney movie.
Depending on the position of the valve, flour could be routed from the filtering process back into a mill.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
Judging from old pictures and maps, raw ore was dumped through these hatches, stamped into a rough powder, and hastily sorted before sending the best ore to the mill. Mills charged by tons of rock sent to them, so it did not pay to send them obvious tails.
Rivets are sexy, and this old machine has more than a fair share.
One of thousands in the complex. Part of a series of photographs where I capture the number “13” in industrial settings.
Chutes from a hundred machines interconnect to more machines and chutes on a dozen factory floors.
One chute drops grain on a conveyor for storage in the north silo cluster, while another is ready to deposit the flow where the conveyor cannot reach. Instead of engineering the belt to trip in reverse, the silos under the workhouses have their own chutes.
The flour mill (rear) and its elevators. The taller elevator was moved here in 1955, when the Harrisons bought it from Federal, who declared it surplus. The smaller elevator replaced an earlier smaller warehouse in 1926. Taken shortly after dawn. This one picture made the drive worth it, for me. Medium Format.
Without a conveyor belt, this tripper seems lost. The job of this machine was simply to take grains from the moving conveyor belt and eject it into the silos via the chutes on the sides. Note all the dust collection venting added to the machine to suck up any explosive grain dust.
Atop Elevator ‘M’, formerly Cargill ‘O’.
…a better view of the huge tailings boom stretching outside of the tailings pond.
Every elevator has sets of these conveyor switches. Grain comes down through the top chute and the bottom chute rotates to move the flow onto various belts around the plant by gravity. The cross belt is another switch and the bridge belt brings the flow to the other half of the elevator.
It’s a mystery to me why this elevator has a Gold Medal Flour ghost sign. You can read it along with its obsolete monikers today.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
In the nitrating house.
Pipes to channel nitrose (think nitro glycerine) infused acid through the building.
The great stenciled number on this chute caught my eye.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
A wounded flour mill, muscled into the corner to keep out of the way.
The old way to get to the elevator from the mill.
It seems that the sawdust would be shot into a dust collector above the powerplant and burned.
The beet juice was boiled down to make a syrup, which would be drained down the trough to the crystalizers.
The only good shot I have of the top of Battery A, in the upper left. Though it seemed to have been disused before its neighbor it had a lot less growth on it.
The ice reflects the blue sky on the rust. The sunset blasts through the concrete pillars holding it all up.
Looking from the mill at the old transfer elevator’s steel tanks.
The steam plant could be vertically traversed with this one-man belt driven elevator.
I wonder how sheltered workers on this mid-level catwalk that follows the ore chutes is in storms. Note the chunks of concrete stuck in the catwalk grates–the pockets (right) are falling apart.
A broken-down wooden grain chute.
With the maintenance door open you can see the buckets on in the vertical conveyor.
Looking into the Pool 8 Annex from the original Ogilvie’s elevator.
“Five Roses” was the brand of flour that Lake of the Woods marketed. Later, this became another Manitoba Pool elevator. Notice the “POO” up top? It’s missing the ‘L’…
Looking across a skyway at the dust-collecting funnels, one of the few pieces of equipment that haven’t been completely decimated by time and the elements.
My friends know that redheads are my greatest weakness.
As wind and currents moved the ice around between the ore docks, the sounds of crunching echoed through the otherwise quiet bar.
Another ruined spiral staircase in the mill.
To the right is the spiral staircase. This building had a definite “floor problem”.
The skyway’s steel substructure collapsed slightly, crushing part of the dust collectors.
I tried to hide the graffiti from my photos, but sometimes it wasn’t possible.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
At the top of the elevator was a distribution room to direct the grain onto conveyor belts below.
Note the tiled floor between the bucket conveyors and an old mill.
If there was a problem with the conveyor belt, the grain would go out these chutes.
The cupola–the space above the silos–is surprisingly original. The building was too unstable for anyone to scrap it out. Seriously, the floor is a deathtrap.
Winter skies over Allouez Bay. From a distance, it looks almost fragile.
Like a railgun pointed at the Rockies… the boom would direct tailings–junk rock–outside of the dredge pond.
Wind took the spring melt on the trees growing in taconite pellets and made it airborne. Loading chutes in the background.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
Much of the mill is wooden–even the larger chutes.
The right-pointing crank adjusts the rollers inside of the mill. How fine do you want your flour?
Water turned the taconite powder into a rusty, slippery paste… everywhere the water pooled up, doubling the beauty from certain special angles.
What looks to be a skip for repairing the dock, in the concrete steeple.
On top of the light hoop, 160-feet up, a ship comes into port, ready to load-up. If you look really close, you can see my shadow cast on the dock below, courtesy of the full moon.
General Mills bought Consolidated Elevator’s “D” in 1943 and renamed it “A,” though no additional elevators have followed from that firm to date. Visible on the right is the first annex, built along with the elevator in 1909.
Chutes connect the bottoms of the silos to a conveyor belt.