Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
From an unsteady perch atop the blast furnace, the morning light began to leach into the complex below.
One of the cupola air intakes, rattled loose by the demolition downstairs, hangs stranded on the second floor. You can see that the floor I’m standing on in this picture used to extend all the way to the right wall. The blue paint on the wall made the climb absolutely worth it.
One of my favorite images from my stay… Note the snowed-over road in the distance! This is looking toward Animas Forks.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
The gear seems to have fallen the height of the power station and shattered. I wonder what it sounded like…
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.
When I looked out of the old mill, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was holding it all up.
Looking up the Dominion Elevator’s tower. I especially like this picture because it shows how so much of the electrical conduits wound round through the mostly hollow space.
One of the ugly modern staircases.
Now, to add a human scale.
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.
Looking between the asbestos house and mineral (lime) house.
Looking toward Duluth from the top of a Dock 1 light tower. NP Dock 1 is on the left… an earlier competitor to Allouez. The stars reflect on Lake Superior.
A me-sized hole in the half-demolished skyway looks about a story down to the ground. Step lightly. Arista 100.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
Looking through Workhouse A from the top of a silo.
A view from the loft in the shipping/receiving building, where the crane operator would step into his cab.
The main rail artery for Thunder Bay passes Ogilvie’s.
This building stood on stilts until it was demolished. The top floor handled radio traffic to boats and trains. The bottom floor had locker rooms, records, and a lunchroom.
A crashed freight elevator.
Looking out of the demolished skyway. Note the big hole in the floor. The lens is too wide to keep my foot out of it… I’m hanging in the superstructure that I climbed to make this photo.
Allouez had already suffered one major fire. It didn’t need another–especially under Dock 1’s wooden approach.
A tight-winding wooden staircase leads to where the ropes are tied above the stage. I am standing next to the big old film speakers while taking this.
At the top of the workhouse, dust collection pipes weave through cross-crossing conveyors.
It seemed the only way to get a view of the room was to climb above the mounds of rotting donations, now not even fit to burn.
Squinting from the top floor through the skyway, one can feel small, like they’re in a heavy industrial dollhouse.
We can lie like sinners
Breathe the air like children
And you could lead and I could follow
All those times are gone
“Duluth” by Trampled by Turtles
The Beeghley was launched in 1958… you can see it unloading limestone here with its retrofitted self-unloader. Update: This ship has been renamed the ‘James L. Oberstar’ after the Minnesota Senator. [Read more on Boardnerd.com here: http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/oberstar.htm]
Looking at the engine house (left) from atop the stoves.
Why the elevator cars were removed or who removed them is unclear to me, but I do hope they still exist somewhere outside of a Honda frame. Judging from the decorations heaped on the doors and their frames, the cars themselves must have been beautiful.
Rain and snow has gutted a third of the building. From the ground floor, I could see the sky in some places.
A panorama next to a long abandoned adit. The tram has seen better days.
“The fresh snow mixed indistinguishably from the ashes of the half-demolished power plant.”
HDR matrix panorama. Looking from the grain elevators, now doomed, toward the city between the flour mill’s water tower and tile elevator’s neon sign, the old and new economies seem almost united. Yet the financial centers rise in reality to shadow the now-abandoned industry and manufacturing. The way of things, I’m told.
Checking out the neighbors. Shot on a the legendary Pentax 67.
There’s no way an explorer, much less a choir, could stand here now. Since this picture was taken the roof has collapsed onto the loft.
At an abandoned mine railroad.
I am not sure what this machine does, but I have a hunch that it husks and cleans the sugar beets as they come into the plant. It is certainly the biggest single piece of equipment in any of the mills.
At the top of the Head Frame, over the silo, a space is hollowed-out for ore cars to dump their load before going back underground in search of copper.
The people that stayed here carved bowls from the mesa itself to collect water.
Hales & Hunter sign, as it looks today.
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.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
It seems like this pipe was made to return dust to the collector in the main workhouse from the annex.
Before it was demolished, there was one good staircase the led to the middle of the dock. Trees grew from it.
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.
Transfer Elevator, Built 1916
The coke plant looked more natural through a grimy window.
Easier-to-demolish parts of the power plant were torched apart. Catwalks to nowhere meant lots of dead ends.
Looking down the Gilman-Belden tram.
Looking across the ruin-strewn brownfield left from ACME’s operation and demolition.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
See http://www.thecarriedeer.com/ for details.
A panorama of the dock buildings, before the left one was demolished.
Kat dancing down the trestle, which is one of the highest in the state, standing about 100 feet over the road. Mamiya 6/Portra 160
The building behind Daisy was demolished, leaving these tanks and a pointless conveyorway. Now it’s bricked (see over door near right corner of mill) and the tanks are exposed to the elements. There are a few holes in the area that have a healthy drop, so you should avoid the area.
Broken skyways in the sand casting house, where everything was utterly fire-resistant.
I never knew that all those elementary school balance bar exercises were for a very serious purpose: not falling to one’s death in the event they uncover lost Chicago history.
The walkway to the end of the dock is elevated, so one walks above the trees and bushes growing in the rotting taconite pellets that have collected over the years.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
The ice around the dock, compressed by the waves, was less clear than the open ice.
It’s a small world… look at it.
A wide view (15mm) of the shadow 4B is casting on 4A. Light leaks because of cheap camera.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
The women of the hospital made clothes for the other patients.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
A look straight down into the chutes were taconite pellets would dump into the dock hoppers. Rebar was a safety measure to keep workers from being buried alive, were they to slip into the holes.
At an abandoned train repair shop.
From the door where mine carts were dumped into the Concentrator, the erosion around the former Santiago Tunnel on Treasure Mountain is obvious. The rails barely connect to the ground anymore.
Looking out the finishing end of the sintering plant at a network of torched-off catwalks through a maze of rust and asbestos. Paradise.
The dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
The building is winking.
Looking toward Fort William (Western) Elevator from the top of Superior Elevator. Fort William is bordered on the south and east by this wide, winding railyard. Note the pretty and quaint brick offices of the Western.
Hanging over the crane cab, looking over at the trane-sized doors below. The steel beam tracing the left wall is the support for the gantry crane this photo was taken from.
“But everyone I used to know was either dead or in prison
So I came back to Minneapolis this time I think I’m gonna stay” -Tom Waits
The same view in 2007.
Superior, WI, some have said, is a suburb of Duluth, MN. It’s more like a sub-suburb, I would argue. It’s the industrial district that is technically in another state, one that sells beer on Sundays. Perspective is looking out of the mostly-disassembled larger (newer) elevator.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
Where the trees are sprouting–below the skyways and criss-crossing pipes–are two sets of railroad tracks that turned through this narrow alleyway through the middle of the production line to drop off raw materials and pick up finished product.
The mill is one of the tallest buildings in the city. It’s too bad that the cupola with its big skylights and flagpole were removed.
I had to climb into the roof of the half-demolished skyway to see through to the other side of the train shed. That’s my foot in the corner.
The annex casts a long shadow over its old headhouse and the former UGG (currently Vitera C) elevator. Arista 100.
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.
A self portrait from more than a decade ago.
The tops of the coke stoves.
Ryan, as seen from the crane ladder.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
At an abandoned castle.
The mill itself is one giant room sectioned into levels–more catwalks than concrete. Here you can see the evaporators and have a sense for the miles and miles of pipes that zigzag through the plant.
I like to think of this as a giant straw, through which the factory is slowly draining the earth, leaving nothing but reinforced concrete below…
The old way to get to the elevator from the mill.
The very top of the Administration Tower’s spiral staircase. There’s an old antenna of some kind there, as you can see.
Scrappers infamously gutted the factory, but this one green conduit going from the sintering floor all the way to ground level seems to have been spared.
The glow from the city is bright enough to read by.
In what Studebaker called the ‘Materials Building’ are these giant concrete bins of fine molding sand, there for casting metal parts using the molten metal from the adjoining building. On the far left side there is a train track and once upon a time a gantry crane traced the room under the roof
Looking at the casting floor from the roof. In the distance are the copulas where molten metal was poured.
There is a flipped tram car about a third of the way down the cliff.
Tucked-into the side of the concentration mill… these machines were meant to crush underground rock into a fine dust for mineral extraction.