“Man has set for himself the goal of conquering the world but in the processes loses his soul.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and historian.
Summertime is when Duluth goes to the lakeside to listen to music, visit traveling fairs, and talk to neighbors about the smell of the lake. As seen from the castle walls.
The ice reflects the blue sky on the rust. The sunset blasts through the concrete pillars holding it all up.
From Main Street, looking straight up at the A Mill, only the silence makes one think that nobody’s still inside, grinding grain into Pillsbury’s Best.
As the Barker steamed past the dock and island, the sunset casts the shadow of the Taconite Harbor receiving trestle on the boat. Through the fog, you can see some of the islands that were joined into a breakwater.
A nice view of the aurora borealis (“Northern Lights”) strong enough to outshine the industrial lighting at the power plant. The lights in the foreground direct ships discharging coal for the station.
Power-up to cool down… would have been nice on the hot day I climbed on top of this machine.
The shaft house, where hydraulic steel doors allowed or denied entry into the mine shaft. Overhead is a light and alarm. If it sounds, the mine is being evacuated, and you best not go in and best stay the hell out of the way. Locals dump tires here, now.
The private bathroom for the staff in this building was simple. As blue paint peels away from the yellow undercoat, islands emerge and grow.
The coal crusher (above) and the conveyor (left) to bring the powdered coal to furnace hoppers (right).
This is an elevator to move mine car loads of sand to the surface for cleaning and eventually glass production. Below is a flooded equipment vault. In front and behind is a loop through the larger tunnels in the mine. The horizontal braces supported electric cables for the mine carts.
Gold, which has a relatively high mass, would drop through the slats of the sluice boxes as the water flowed over them. Around the dredge were a half dozen radiator pipes to keep the water flowing through the machines.
I was squatting overnight in one of the buildings and woke up with the sunrise. This is what I woke up to.
A hole in one of the boards casts the inverse image of a tree outside across a peeling sanatorium wall.
It’s a straight view from the projection booth to the stage, but hell of a walk. At a fast pace, I think it would take 10 minutes to walk from this spot to the chair. Behind the curtains is a big white screen, so the theatre could be used for either stagework or moving pictures. The two projectors are set up for 3D movies right now–hence the little switch below the window–a Polaroid 3D synchronizer. Cool, huh?
In the ward for the criminally insane, this door was the most-worn. Nail scratches mark the area around the peep hole, the wood is gouged everywhere from thrown chairs and hard kicks, and a ominous blood-colored stain is visible where it dripped in the second inset from the bottom. Aside from the damage, the coloring in this section was very vibrant, though it was probably little reprieve for those who had to work here.
The generator room was state of the art when it was installed, allowing the complex to use motors and electric lighting ahead of its competitors.
This is a great example of a combination rock house; the silos below used to fill trains with ore dropped from mine cars pulled to the top of the structure.
The second most important building at Prize Mine.
…out of our depth.
These copulas made the iron for casting.
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.
Somewhere there was a hoe left on the ground. Given that we had read articles about photographers being mugged around the abandoned projects, we felt it wouldn’t hurt to carry this around. I am glad we did; it made a great musical drumstick against the warped Wheeler Rec Center floor.
Soft rain on Vulcan’s ashy pyre… Both of these peaks are dead volcanos, too hard to be totally washed away by storms. As a result, they seem to rise dramatically from the flat valley.
The note on the left announces that the spindles in the crates are dirty.
Heavy industrial looks good in cotton candy pink.
Peering through the glass in the Hoist Operator’s cab, stained with graffiti. The cable and reels can be seen through the glass… these are now gone.
The Osborn Block (front) and the Twohy (rear) at sunset. In the distance, you can almost make out Globe Elevators. One of my favorite photos of 2013.
The fantastic red elevator that is Pool #61, built 1928.
Latin; to grow. Root of the English word ‘surge’.
This building was 99 years old when it was demolished for the coal mine.
The Big Dipper brought its friends into view, and the best seat is 80-feet up.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
This bridge over Eagle River is beautiful.
After a short rainfall douses the mill in downtown Fergus Falls, the river next to the brick walls swells and the sounds of water overtakes the echos of the nearby bars. Reflections are on the foundation of the former distribution and rail building.
Scanned after being recovered from the bottom of an old wooden box for a few years. Circa 2005. The only photo I have showing the steam locomotive out front.
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.
Aluminum spools replaced their wooden counterparts, later in the factory’s history.
“Place Tripod Here” my friends would say. But for me, it’s the money shot. Note the painting around the inside of the skylight.
An abandoned ranch on the east side of the tracks. This was not the Colmor Cutoff they were waiting for.
A crack in a window in a wall. What’s this doing here?
A super-shallow depth of field shot on the Leica Summilux.
Looking at the headframe for Shaft 3 from the tower for Shaft 1. Below is the roof of the Dry House. It was hard to remind myself that these building have been abandoned longer than I’ve been alive.
What time is it?
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
The whole smelter ran on gravity… elevating the various raw materials and working with them until at the bottom of the furnace, copper poured out.
Shadows of the timberwork and cribbing are cast across cracked lake ice. My footprints follow cat tracks.
A squat building with a rail scale. Taken between rain showers in late summer, when I seemed to be the only one at White Pine.
Sunrise in the orphanage… between classrooms and whispers.
The Clipper was one of the most popular Packards, but its production was cut short by WWII. Had they produced the car instead of Rolls Royce plane engines I imagine there would might be driving a Packard today, rather than a Ford.
When not running 24 hours a day during a campaign, the plant was being repaired. Every sugar mill has a large shop and parts room for those times.
“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.”
― Emily Dickinson
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
One of the older buildings on the site, this is an old power house that provided electricity to the plant. I spent some time walking around it and believe it was fired with coal gas but had a diesel backup installed later.
Fake Fact: The term ‘stovetop hat’ was coined by Island Station’s architect while trying to explain why he wanted to put the steel chimney on the station. ‘Live Here’ was part of the advertising when the building was host to artist lofts. They weren’t kidding.
Coming to an inspirational poster near you… what should it read? ADVENTURE AWAITS? Don’t hang posters. Go outside.
In this photo you see three lives of Lyric: 1.) The Art Deco murals showing the Vaudeville background; 2.) The suspended ceiling put in when the building was converted for film; 3.) The explorers, photographers and others who worked in and on the building before its final demolition.
Looking at ADM-Delmar #4, #1 and Kurth from the Meal Storage Elevator at sunset on one of the warmer days of December. Note the graffiti “United Crushers” that gave the big elevator its common name among locals. Also, Harris Machinery is sitting in the lower-left corner, awaiting word of its next use.
After a little rain, the roof took on the color of the bright pink letters.
This is one of my favorite images of the year because of the color, light and textures. Someone told me once that the medium of photographers is not film or digital sensors, but rather shadows. This photo is evidence of that.
“GREETING FROM BEAUTIFUL GARY–WISH YOU WERE HERE!” My postcard shot.
A wounded flour mill, muscled into the corner to keep out of the way.
In the upper left of the image you can see where the gas tanks used to be, along with the concentration equipment. Along the bottom you can also see some of the many railroad tracks coming and going from the plant–the ones visible here were incoming tracks that carried in hard coal from the eastern US.
My favorite picture from the mills. These charts remind me of star charts or orbiting planets.
Looking down the walkway that traces the bottom side of the ore dock.
It’s a small world… look at it.
The Atlas D command building. As Brutalist as it gets.
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.
Miller Creek, in one of the wider sections that features a trout (as in the fish) canal in the middle of the drain. Even though it is underground, the fish are able to visit their breeding ponds upstream by swimming through the specially designed tunnel.
Above the old machine shop is a packing building and a crate of cardboard label rolls.
It’s not hard to see how Germany could turn these into a prison overnight.
The hiking around Central City is beautiful and full of history. Just get a proper topo map!
A buck-fifty shot for a postcard stand. Taken from the Stone Arch Bridge.
An abandoned news stand between the concourse and ticket booths. This is one of my favorite pictures from the 2000s.
In this old repair shop, vines fall from the rotting roof to meet mossy concrete. Even though it had been dry for days, water dripped in from the roof to make permanent puddles between workstations. It was full of color and sound and industry and nature.
A huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
Since the foundry went cold, I decided to turn down my color temperature… In the background, a chart showing graphite dispersion is one of the few artifacts left on the foundry floor.
Some of the plants growing out of the walls of the power plant.
The view from the larry, looking out at the overgrowing coke oven top. Papers listed the order of the charges for each oven, noting the sticky doors and persistent leaks. Emergency respirators and rescue gear was stored close, as long exposure to emissions from the rusty hatches could make worker pass out on the top of the ovens.
While squatting in the power plant a very powerful storm moved over unforgettable, throwing blasts of lightning across the countryside. The plant got a direct hit, in fact, and the sound of the boom reverberating through the turbine hall is something unforgettable.
…somebody get the number of that truck! Near the Day Rooms in the Paying Patient ward.
“Crunch, crunch, crunch,” said the ground. “I know,” I replied.
Looking out upon Mill City through the lens of FLOUR, highlighted in pink and low clouds. This sign has recently been converted into LED lighting.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
In this section of the Men’s Ward, sealed by brick from lower floors, the room doors had messages painted in their inside–some motivational, some not. I would be interested to hear if anyone knows the backstory of this section. Lighting is natural; it was just after sunset.
Footprints of houses past; tailings of mines past.
The end of the dock, done quickly and cheaply with wood. The towers were for lights, so ships could be loaded at all hours.
The most pointless, beautiful and nuclear-bomb-proof catwalk I’ve been on to date. It goes between two high levels in its own bottom-lit concrete capsule in the center of the tallest, thickest building. Hang on, we’re riding this one out.
We mark our world in unexpected ways… this is how patient possessions would be stored during their stay in the old asylum wards. It’s about the size of a shoebox, and this particular drawer has a name where the others do not. Its place reminded me of the hospital cemetery where more than 3,000 are buried and less than 1% of whom are recorded by stone or plaque in their resting place.
Inside this small iron clad mine is a couch and some clothes. It seems that for a short while, someone was living inside of it…
From a distance (here, Union Yards), you can still see ARMOUR spelled out on the smokestack in white brick.
Ready for some science? Strap-in and get your goggles.
In the many-windowed metal building, the lumberyard buildings and the abandoned starch works buildings are separated by a thick wall of pallets.
The spiral staircase ends in the basement, where two oil tanks (for the lantern) and a freshwater tank (for the Keeper) were stored. The basement consists of two long arched vaults like this.
What I make out to be the dining room or great hall of the castle, as seen through of the side rooms, which appeared to be a very ruined library. Teenager graffiti looks cooler in French.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
The iconic outline of a prairie sentinel. Quintessential rural industrial architecture.
This electric Wellman crane was added to extract coal from ships for the power plant that Erie built beside their dock. Now, with the advent of self-unloading boats, it’s been replaced by a funnel and conveyor belt.
The bits with handles are the filters with screens of different sizes. Larger grain particles would be stopped at the top for further reduction via the mills, while the powder at the bottom would be run through another bolter–one of the refinement stages in flour production.
One of my favorite pictures of the tunnel. I am holding a bike rim and wearing a headlamp. My friend triggered the flash just behind my lower back. The fog is a temperature inversion at the entrance of the tunnel; it was 102 degrees outside of the tunnel and about 50 degrees inside, and humid.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
To the right is the spiral staircase. This building had a definite “floor problem”.
A creek has cut through the middle of the mine property, washing away the loose rock and eroding the foundations of the Concentrator. It’s pretty, though! It’s be belief, though I cannot prove it, that some of the water here originates from inside the now-buried Santiago Tunnel, which is no doubt flooded to a great extent.
One of my favorite shots from that year, conveyor line parts stacked and hung with Postal Service bins from decades ago.
The flour mill’s interior is really just a system of steel and rubber tubes that crush flour over and over in the gap. This mill was never run off of water power directly, but it used to generate power using the river.
One of my favorite images from my stay… Note the snowed-over road in the distance! This is looking toward Animas Forks.
These steam powered pumps were integral to the cooling of the meat packing plant next door.
The control room for the whole of the plant. Sinterband here means one of the sintering lines. Temperatures, gasses, mixtures, speeds, and so on were centrally controlled here.
Ducking the steam lines overhead between the mixers and compressors, a water tower says “good morning,” right past the slack power lines. This is the sleepy uptown of the war city.
Each room is painted a different hue, so the light reflecting into the hallway carries those colors. The blue padding on the left is for one of the padded rooms…
The State School stage, taken as it was getting scrapped.
Standing on the fence barricade that used to keep squatters out of the tunnel, the size of the space is impressive. What you see here is the current length of the tunnel; I set up a flashlight at the end to illuminate the concrete wall that is the lower portal.
In the Lime House, the sunset picked-up the last light of day to make this image. Lime is used in the beet sugar refinement process to reduce the acidity of the beet juice mixture.
As a storm moves across Lake Superior toward Duluth, an ore freighter anchors behind the Superior light station.
A century-old ghost sign for Royal House Flour was preserved after a building is built above and through it! Looking from the north annex elevator toward the headhouse.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
Old boathouses near the dock.
Sprouts of life in center of a smashed glass block.
My favorite of the turtles in the basement mural. Mr. Fade Out.
The nitrating house was a chemically dangerous place, so it had thick metal and concrete shield for every station right next to an emergency shower.
My favorite shot of 2011; a rusty mold for a heart-shaped glass candy dish in its natural environment, so to speak.
Sunrise in SEMI. The shadow of Kurth Malt is cast across ADM-Delmar #1. Clouds behind ADM-Delmar #4 light up. It’s cold and the air smells like train grease.
A pipe bracket seems to have rusted off of the ceiling.
One of the few man-sized exterior doors, seemingly with an original frame. Classic arching and beautiful textures–every inch of wall had me drooling. If this engine house was in a metropolitan area, it would have been turned into a $10 million white collar office suite ten years ago.
Fergus Falls State Hospital. Well, technically moonlight… but a with stars nonetheless! The orange glow from the left and in the rear of the building are exterior lights on associated–former State Hospital–buildings. All other light is from the full moon that evening.
The individual ovens are skinny to allow even and fast heating of the whole interior. Numbers are cut into signs because no paint could withstand the heat or corrosive emissions from the coking process.
A light-painted portrait of one of the few remaining carts that moved everything from fresh eggs to soiled laundry through the tunnels.
Gopher Ordnance Works, aka the U-Lands, is a landscape where roots and boughs break apart concrete and steel.
The Engine House’s boiler, which would have been fired all day all day, virtually from the day the shop opened until the day it closed.
A dead pigeon that taggers gilded.
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.
When the factory’s production line was up for auction, many parts were removed, crated and labeled with big painted numbers to ease their removal by buyers. Not everything sold, however, so not one dark corner of the factory seems without a pile of dislocated industrial junk.
My favorite shot from the trip. Later in its life, the plant was converted to burn its own byproducts, but it seems this was designed as a coal hopper.
One of the prettier Humphry Manlifts in Minneapolis, in my opinion.