The beeping never stopped. The robots never slept, not even when they were unplugged. It was a nightmare.
The tailings boom is the first and last thing you see when approaching the mountaintop shipwreck.
Equipment that did not sell at auction.
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.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
The giant cog is missing on this machine, which turned a sugar slurry intro crystals. Green-blue stained glass makes the rusty machine glow in aquamarine.
In the nitrating house.
Compressors and turbines over the Eagle River.
Much of the signage in the mill was hand-drawn.
Inside the pilot copper concentrator.
A dead belt-o-vator.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
This sea leg was installed to unload grain boats. It’s pretty much a big bucket elevator that can be moved and lowered into waiting boats.
One of the generators, weeks before it was taken apart to be shipped to another power plant somewhere else.
Next to the generator room is the pump room, which moved steam around the complex.
Fire buckets did not have flat bottoms so they could never be used for other buckety tasks, and were thus always handy in an actual fire.
The steam-powered hoist that pulled ore and dropped men from the mine. Note the hydraulic-operated brake on top with its massive brake pad. Now scrapped.
On my first self-guided tour, the calculator was caught my eye because it was one of the few things left behind in the laboratories that filled the second floor. On my next trip, it had been smashed to pieces.
Grain is taken from the bottom of the silos through a conveyor in a tunnel. These blowers keep the air in the tunnel fresh.
I really like the porcelain guides for the silk threads, probably used because they could be polished for perfect, persistent, smoothness.
From the slip where grain boats would tie for loading and unloading, the unloader juts in a modernist-architectural way that is oddly visibly satisfying. Inside that white building is the retracted boat unloader, more or less a long and sturdy conveyor attached to a joint and crane motor. There used to be four loaders that looked like simple tubes with cranes and ropes attached hanging from this side of the elevator. All that remains of those is one fixture on the white building (not visible here) and the frame of one on the elevator proper, visible in the upper-middle of this image, to the right of the unloader apparatus.
The powerhouse was notably older than the rest of the complex. I’m still not sure if it was build just for the cooperage, or whether it preceded it.
Shadows of the rusty trestle and cold control towers on the Barker. Workers are preparing to swing over the sides of the boat to help secure her to the Minnesota Power dock.
A view of the government presses, with pages of law across the floor covered in footprints.
Robotic pincers to move molten rods of glass between machines.
A side view of the floatation level. I found it interesting that there were little ladders and staircases in the mill to help workers get around–this place was not as shoddy as other mills I’ve seen.
Kate for scale. Powder that passed the floatation level was flowed over sluice tables, another mass-based way of separating gold. I’ve never seen so many of these in one place. Though it was a hardrock mine, it worked more like a placer mine.
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?
SWP4-A on the left and Viterra C on the right in a 90-degree panorama.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
Furnace #6; its catwalk and tapway. Note the lever-operated gutter-blockers.
Note the large belt pulley in the center of the frame. Follow the axel it’s on and you’ll see several belts still attached to the drive, which was originally steam-driven.
Sluice tables stretch into the darkness.
Looking down at the Port Arthur Ore Dock from Manitoba Pool Elevator #3. The conveyor belts are gone and King Elevator is in the far distance.
The machine stood the Atlas missile up vertically over the blast pit, launching position, once the roof opened.
The coal extractor swings back and forth, ripping coal from the ground and throwing it on a conveyor belt to be burned a few miles away.
The hoist room, before it was used for storage.
The entry point for the painting shed on the top floor. Cars would have a few feet in between them before they entered. Separate sheds would prime and add color.
The incinerator’s hardened steel door… useless, but still sexy in a heavy-industrial kind of way.
A scrapped steam turbine, perhaps. In the background you can see a gutted casing for another turbine.
Gilman had a bowling alley.
After crushing, these machines would float lighter material to the surface of the water, where it would be skimmed and discarded. Gold and silver laden stone would sink to the bottom, where it was collected for the next stage of processing. Leica/Summilux 35/Ektar 100
Aluminum spools replaced their wooden counterparts, later in the factory’s history.
The Big Dipper brought its friends into view, and the best seat is 80-feet up.
Unit 4’s lower levels.
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.
The final ball mill in the Chain O’ Mines concentrator. Behind it was a bucket of steel balls.
In one of the small offices there’s this machine that bills itself as “The Recorder.” I’m an old tech geek and I still don’t know what this really does.
Empty spools, thousands of them, were around the mill.
On the upper floors where the sunlight is yellow–the color of flour dust, once exposed to the elements.
The building in the foreground–the old control booth–was arsoned in 2009.
Looking at the side of 4B from the roof of its car shed.
Beautiful belt wheels above the grain cribs. Getting to the spot where this was taken is now impossible, and I don’t know whether these remain or not anymore.
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.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
Patented in 1965 and produced by Specialized Mass Markets. User would insert token and use a rotary-phone-style dial to enter their token number. The machine would tally the numbers and indicate winners depending on the sum of said numbers. See USPTO US3455557.
One of a few rolling workbenches to keep the thousands of pulleys, cogs, and belts working properly.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
End of the paint line. After reading Father Action’s excellent-as-always writeup about his adventures here, I was pretty cautious around big spinning alarms. (See http://www.actionsquad.org/fordII1.html)
An antique clothes dryer and sample inline 4 engine, the latter used as a training piece after WWII to retrain veterans.
I like to think of this as the hardware abstraction layer. It’s one of many subassembly monorail conveyors that dipped onto the factory floor to deliver assembled subsections where they needed to be on the main assembly floor below.
A machine to cast copper billets.
The remains of the surgical suite.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
This picture typifies the industrial ideal of the early 20th century. More metal than air. More efficiency than beauty. More profits than people.
Away from the rest of the plant–as if forgotten, or hiding–is this little stamp press. Yes, this is little by press standards.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
Behind the main shaft is this familiar industrial sight… a running count of days since the last injury.
Looking from the crane-motor catwalk into the Calumet. The arm shown here with the pulleys looped through it would have been lowered and the bucket conveyor in it would throw grain to waiting ships and boats bound for flour mills and foreign lands.
This rod mill (?) was made in Denver Colorado at a factory now buried by condos. #justdenverthings
I believe this is the push car, meaning it would push the charge in the oven out the opposite side into the train car.
Barrels were prepared across the street, then moved across the road with a special conveyor, seen crashed here. This is down the road from Old Taylor, and was probably a part of the Old Crow operation.
Too big to be scrapped, to simple to be auctioned. It waited for the demo crews and demo cranes to arrive.
These machines had embossed metal numbers marking their ends.
This is an example of the equipment that was originally manufactured at Barcol.
Part of the 1917 mill that had a little bit of roof left over it–most of this building was open to the sky. The birds loved it, but everything metal was quickly becoming too unstable to walk on.
Open wide! Here comes the sugar beets!
Light-painted to show off the beautiful radar equipment inside and Park Point across the bay.
A closeup of the old fashioned wood-and-iron flour mill, a little while before they were all scrapped.
The workshop sat below the main working floor and had serious power going to it.
A better view of the belt system that drives all the machinery in the plant.
Inside a launch building you can see how the roof would split in the middle to allow the rocket to be raised into launch position.
A closer look at the side of the generator.
Part of the brewing process is sterilizing the kettles, pipes and tanks all product would touch. This was done with a caustic solution. To the left is a healthy pile of asbestos where a heating tank used to stand, insulated in the carcinogenic mineral. The tank got cut apart, the asbestos stayed here.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
The note on the left announces that the spindles in the crates are dirty.
Steam pipes snake up the walls like vines, but with asbestos.
Made by the Mergenthalen Linotype Company of New York, this model series (300) was introduced in 1960 and boasted a 12-line-per-minute reproduction rate.
The middle section of the smokestacks were coal hoppers, and this device would load the coal into the hoppers from the conveyor belt it rode across. The bottom section of the stacks were storage rooms while the very top were, surprise, chimneys for the power plant.
One of the three ovens where the powder would be heater to over 2000 degrees… hot enough to fuse iron, but not hot enough to liquify it.
The generator hall of the last power station, as seen from the gantryway.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
On the top floor of the former casket building is the finishing line for the coating section; on this section the final spray of plastic would hit the wood before a small furnace would seal the plastic permanently to the surface, making it more resilient, I assume.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
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.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
There are so many pipes i the factory–I wonder how many people knew where they all went, in the days these machines operated at capacity.
A huge steam pipe snakes between catwalks, through the floors, and toward the condensers, so the water could be recovered and reused.
A hydraulic ‘bridge’ couple lower onto the tracks to bring mine cars into the shaft house, presumably for repair. I haven’t found this system anywhere else, but it makes a lot of sense.
Bits and things in a pile in the corner of the smelter, the unsold chunks of industrial history that didn’t sell at an on-site auction before my visit.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
This movable chute came off its rails.
The batch tag specifies some of the technical properties of the silk worked here.
Copper poured from this furnace and was cast by the autocaster on the right into billets.
These monorails were on a side line to build smaller parts of the Ranger before being attached to the truck itself. Note in the upper right that there’s another conveyor above this section.
This machine was last overhauled in February 1955, and last turned out Crepe silk, probably dress material.
On the Turbine Room floor, one old steam pump still remains, ready to pressurize steam pipes with the hot stuff throughout the car shops and boilers.
A sort of blender in a powder line building. The top vent had been removed, so leaves and light fall onto the teeth now.
A jankey ladder leads to a platform over a wooden tank. Here’s hoping my usage contributes to jankey being accepted into the dictionary! Thanks, lexicographers.
The turbine hall, without turbines. I guess that makes this a hall… at least it has a clock.
These steam powered pumps were integral to the cooling of the meat packing plant next door.
Tucked-into the side of the concentration mill… these machines were meant to crush underground rock into a fine dust for mineral extraction.
From inside a painting shed, where heatlamps and a vented roof made sure that the Caddy looked like it was worth the price tag.
A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
One of the pair of motors that powered this mine shaft. In the 1950s, this shaft was designated a rescue shaft, and was only maintained for emergencies. One reason that Cheratte built Shaft 3 nearby was because these motors and infrastructure did not have the capacity that the giant mine below called for.
The working end of the blast furnace, where molten metal would flow like lava out of the furnace… a process called ‘tapping’.
A wide view of the steam pump room, complete with pistons (taken apart for their brass), flywheels (covered in graffiti and rust) and pressure gauges (smashed apart for fun). I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was not disappointed.
On the second floor of the former casket plant, which was retrofitted with a conveyor system to coat finished products.
One of the early automated painting booths in the paint plant line.
These machines circulated water through the powder from the ball mills. Gold and silver is heavier than gravel, so it sinks while the junk rock floats.
There big filters helped the mill sort through the flour, for additional milling, for example.
The boiler doors are beautiful, and feature the name of the smelter and mine company. If you like these, check my article on the Mitchell Yards of Hibbing, MN.
The aerial tram at the Mayflower Mill gives a sense of what the Gold Prince Mill in Animas Forks once looked like. Trams connected the mill to the mines around it without the need to negotiate trees, rivers, and rough terrain.
Note the tiled floor between the bucket conveyors and an old mill.
This picture is lit by a direct lightning strike of the building. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of being in this giant open building the moment it channeled an electric explosion into the earth.
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.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
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.
There is a cool old air compressor in the corner of the powerhouse.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
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.
A wide view (15mm) of the shadow 4B is casting on 4A. Light leaks because of cheap camera.
The end of the monorail in the nitrating house.
Giant paint mixers.
A polaroid (FP100c, actually) of the newer grain car dumper.
The top of the docks are so rotten in places that you can see the lake through the boards. In the foreground you can see the controls for the chutes, which work on a clutch.
Under the monster and its teeth.
This is a 1956 furnace. It was used to forge wheels, casings, and parts for the axel shop.
The power pulley that ran air compressors straight off of the steam plant’s axel.
Detail view of one of the fermenting tanks, still set-up for the distillery tours that no doubt took place when there last were such things. Nevertheless, the capacity of this tank multiplied across these all over the distillery floor really shows the power this company once had.
The metallic arms of the missile erector, which would stand rockets over the blast pit in the launch position. Medium Format film–cheap but excellent Fomapan 100 in a Pentax 67.
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 morning shower made the plant’s metal siding shake… probably nothing, though, compared to when the furnaces were blasting. The objects on the ground are molten ore containers.
Looking into the Pool 8 Annex from the original Ogilvie’s elevator.
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.
I tried to hide the graffiti from my photos, but sometimes it wasn’t possible.
A typical lab at the Research Center.
The right-pointing crank adjusts the rollers inside of the mill. How fine do you want your flour?
Looking up to the second floor of the Nitrating House, where cotton would be soaked in nitric acid. These brought cotton into the building.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
The main shaft’s cable spooled with bird castings belies the fact that lives used to dangle from its steel-wound strength. Arrows on the circles would indicate the mine level the cars were currently at.
Part of the grain dust venting system, dislodged from its place above the dumping hatches under the grain cribs.
One of two projectors, still set to run old 3D flicks.
A wounded flour mill, muscled into the corner to keep out of the way.
Park Insurance Agency is no longer in business, nor would you be able to dial that phone number.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
A brewmaster’s desk leans beside a long-disused stainless steel kettle. The staircase above goes to another level of kettles, which are visibly older.
Taken from the arm of the pocket loader–note the tree growing out of the conveyor belt. Often where you see old piles of taconite, trees are springing up. The byproducts of the pelletization process break down and make a really fertile mix, especially with all the iron content!
This is the building with the water tower on top, full of Barcol stuff that did not sell at auction and not worth the trouble to scrap.
A mid-line polishing booth. It was fun to see the thousands of lasers and other sensors that guided the robotic arms and tools around the bodies as they passed. Note the red/green stop/go lights in the distance.
On the middle level of the Poacher House. For a detailed view of the chart see ‘See Reverse’.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
When a big motor rusted free of its ceiling mount, it smashed onto this workbench.
The left wall is stacked high with wooden crates holding spools. Tags hang on machines describing the last batch of silk the mill ever produced.
Before the gold could be extracted, the rock was turned to powder. Depending on the size of the steel balls inside the mill, the rock would be reduced to a certain size. So, multiple mills were usually used in stages.
The last tailings on a broken conveyor belt.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
The hoist signal dangling beside the modern mine shaft would ring a bell next to the giant electric motors that would send the men and machinery into the underground.
A few from atop the steam gauges along the western wall. The turbines were scrapped quickly after the plant closed, it seemed.
We know what the ladies’ favorite treats were! Found holding parts on a repair cart.
This belt-run axle ran a turbine (now gone) to blow fresh air into the mine.
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
At night the city lights blast through the broken windows, casting crazy colors through the off-white interior of the mill.
Copper thieves haven’t left anything behind but the shell.
One of the principal businesses in McConnell was a farm implement and lumber store. This is too new to have been bought there, but I like that it’s still on the edge of town. It’s more comfortable than the emptiness beyond, that used to be a little prairie town.
Inside the pilot copper concentrator.
An old stoker in a power plant that was abandoned long before the mill next to it, by all indications. Sugar mills burned dry beet pulp pellets for fuel.
Shadows of the skylights form a backdrop for rust-welded machines.
In the back of the warehouse is the old incinerator, probably used to destroy kegs that could not be reused.
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.
Either the company was pulling parts from this evaporator to use as parts for other plants, or the last thing the workers did was to get this machine ready for the next campaign. Either way, plans changed.
Two small generators connected to a Frick steam engine.
The last batch of molded metal stuck in the chute, this metallurgical furnace was falling apart brick by disintegrating brick b the time I got to it. On the upper floors there is a sophisticated network of vents and chimneys to make these little furnaces as hot as possible.
A closeup inside the mill’s power room.
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.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
Part of the system below Dock 2.
On the left is the broken glass room that contains the controls for the cable spool, now gone, that sat in the metal shell on the right. The stairs led down to the hoisting engine itself. You can make out the slits where the cable ran up to the headframe tower through the gaping archway.
The first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
After Wilson Bros moved out, a furniture company moved in.
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.
The end of the heating line allowed glass to cool slowly, and thus be stronger.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
A printing press in the attic of the Reception Hospital.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
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.
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
Under the steam engine in the lower engine room–the camera is mounted right over the beginning of the cam shaft.