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.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
These copulas made the iron for casting.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
…a better view of the huge tailings boom stretching outside of the tailings pond.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
This might have been part of the Pioneer Pellet Plant. It looks to be a ball mill, which pulverizes ore by spinning it with thousands of ball bearings.
The roof was in bad shape, but too beautiful to avoid. This is the spot were I used to study medieval Latin.
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.
Looking into one of the fire slides, designed to evacuate patients extremely quickly. In 1880, a fire completely destroyed the asylum at St. Peter, Minnesota, killing 30 patients.
Different doors for different vehicles, I would guess. White Pine Mine used tire-based vehicles, rather than track-based, making it pretty different than other mines I’ve been to.
This spiral staircase isn’t doing Lemp much good–maybe they’ll let me have it! I do love, though, that there is a door going to it–without walls–and it ascends to a second floor that doesn’t exactly exist anymore.
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.
The old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
Old hospital beds.
I love the texture of the rust through the decaying yellow paint.
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.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
Looking at the tallest part of the plant from a skeletal loading dock. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Colors of the boiler room.
The perfect place to have a post-industrial picnic.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
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.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
Prize Mine has been the victim of erosion. Its north wall is pushed in by rockfall and its south side is far from ground level.
The copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
A dead work truck rusts near an outbuilding. Everything is marked with a code. Modernity.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
Much of the circa-1950s buildings remain with few alterations, such as these long boring sheet metal ruststicks.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
Stained windows and sheet metal catch the sunset from across the Ohio River.
“Against the blue sky, its rusting central silos look like rising smoke meeting the last minutes of a sunset. These give way to a corrugated night sky of blue gray, punched-through with staggered four-pane windows, all glassless.”
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.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
A collapsing and unstable building.
The south wall of the power plant. Its sheet metal skin couldn’t fit around the structure, it seems… note the very strange protruding superstructure.
Behind the factory was an old truck, blocked in by overgrown trees on one side and the buildings on the other.
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.
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.
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.
Looking through perfectly clear water into an abandoned mine room. My guess is that it contained some pumps to keep the mine dry and equipment related to the elevators.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
Lockers for the boiler room workers.
A multi-family home with an attic bedroom. The staircase was unstable, to say the least.
When I moved from the roof back into the upper floors of the distillery, the plants growing out of the masonry caught my eye. It’s 60 feet up, but looks like it could be an old wall.
This rod mill (?) was made in Denver Colorado at a factory now buried by condos. #justdenverthings
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
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.
The Bunk House was not just for sleeping, but it was for eating and recreation too. In one corner, near the door to the Blacksmith Shop (left) is this terrific stove, probably original (circa 1937).
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.
Christmas lights from the time Island Station was an art studio lean against a rusty boiler.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
A fallen branch smashed out this skylight years ago, and since then the bees have found this tiny toilet a perfect home. This is part of the hotel where employees slept.
The wrought iron staircase for what was the Consumer’s Brewery Brew House, as indicated by very fine cast landings with the company logo. The staircase is in bad condition; someone had run a forklift or something similar into the bottom in addition to copious vandalism and water damage. Holes in the floor, like in the upper-right corner indicate where stainless steel kettles used to be before they were scrapped.
Looking up the rock house.
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.
In the nitrating house.
A volcano (?) under a window.
Holes were cut into the floor to extract equipment from the basements. it was interesting to see the I-beams extending through all the levels of Studebaker.
This movable chute came off its rails.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
The steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
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.
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
When I first saw Ogilvie’s from the ground, I promised myself to look back when i found my way into this little pitched outcropping which seemed to have the best view of Thunder Bay I could imagine. It turns out, though, that there is no floor in that section; it is just extended machine access! Oh well. Mount McKay in the background in the last light.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
A string of vehicles have found death at Packard recently. Usually they are simply driving up ramps and pushed off the rooftops, but this one seemed destined for a worse fate. Found in the far corner of the far building.
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.
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.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
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.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
The pipes in the boiler would be full of water, so the heat in the furnace.
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
At the top of a skyway that brought fresh-dried cotton into the Nitrating House from the Cotton Dry House. How? Monorail, of course.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
This is where the lime would spill out.
Workers in the basement tunnels had to communicate with the workhouse operators 100 feet above and vice versa. Alarms and bells were installed to signal trouble over the sound of the elevator machinery.
“What’s that diamond thingy on the Pilot House?” you ask? It’s a 1920s-era radio transmission direction finder, a pre-radar navigation aid. Lit with diffused flash.
The ’59’ is just a reference to that work station. Unfortunately the scrappers beat me to this machine–there was not much left besides the 2-ton shell and this control panel.
Looking down the kiln line from atop the furnaces.
The last trace of Mitchell, Minnesota is a pile of cans on the side of the main street, Mitchell Avenue. These will be recognizable for another century or so, for future history-minded explorers.
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
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.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
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 secret sweet-yet-salty center of the nameless factoryscape. Home base, tuned to rule the AC and turn out Product X at record rates, I’m sure.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
It will be a good harvest.
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.
A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.
The tops of the coke stoves.
The bottom of the tailings boom is rotten. In days when the dredge, floated, gangways connected it to shore, it seemed. You can see the size of the pontoons under the boat here.
At sunset the light skips from puddle to stagnant puddle across the whole foundry room, playing with the classic sawtooth roof with half-hearted shadows.
The rear of the complex shows the more than 100 year old workhouse–still working! I do not know if the tanks are original to the 1901 elevator, but I suspect so.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
C’mon and grab your friends… we’ll go to very—rusty lands…
I found a face.
This ruined skyway looks like it should be at ground level because of the growth, but it’s actually the second floor of the building.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
The only way to get to the second floor–since demolition crews punched-out the staircases and ladders leading upwards–was to climb this elevator shaft. In the lower-left corner is a blower for the foundry furnaces.
Atop Elevator ‘M’, formerly Cargill ‘O’.
Funny how sensitive modern English speakers have become to gendered language. I doubt the workers here–almost all female–were offended by this posting for ‘Workmen’s Compensation’.
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.
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 factory was utterly vertical.
#67, one of the only lockers that is not crunched to the point it refuses to open. In the corner of the small office area.
From an unsteady perch atop the blast furnace, the morning light began to leach into the complex below.
A closeup inside the mill’s power room.
This was a living space for the keepers during storms, when it was too dangerous to return to the houses on the point.
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 stencil instructs the first and third shifts to ask security for access. Security was out during all my visits, except one mishap where a strung-out local chased me with a truck. Having spent a decade exploring the U.P., I was not caught off guard.
I did not take the escape ladder to the surface, but I am told it pops up in the middle of a hill next to the missile silo doors.
A handmade sign tracks the progress through the current beet campaign. For this factory, it was about 30 years ago. Perhaps the idea was to pit shifts against each other.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
The elevator is stuck between floors.
One of the storage bunkers was cracked open. I wonder how effective this heavy door would actually be… I expect, not very.
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 winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
The first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
Mammoth Mine overlooks Central City from atop Mammoth Hill. In the distance you can make out Coeur d’Alene Mine (red), which operated from 1885 through 1940.
Because painted signs would not hold up in this spot–in between four ovens that were literally hot enough to melt steel inside. Solution: Cut the pipe labels into the sheet metal. Seems to have worked.
This part of the workhouse was sheathed in fiberglass, but now you can see its insides from a mile away.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
Another ruined spiral staircase in the mill.
The corner of the elevator… lumber armored with steel for fireproofing and water resistance.
A rooftop scene.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
“The fresh snow mixed indistinguishably from the ashes of the half-demolished power plant.”
One of a few dozen steel bed frames left in the rubble of the collapsing building.
Power-up to cool down… would have been nice on the hot day I climbed on top of this machine.
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.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
Looking across the whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
A dead belt-o-vator.
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.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
Under the monster and its teeth.
A huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
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.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
Powdered coal would sit in these hoppers before they get mixed with water to make a slurry. Then the mixture is injected into the firebox and ignited to make a coal-powered flamethrower capable of boiling water very quickly.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
One evening I spent an hour lighting tea candles through the tunnels below the elevator. It was a magical transformation.
Interlocking bricks at the mouth of the stoker-less boiler.
The spectacular, if precarious, view of downtown Minneapolis from the roof of ADM Annex 4. Note the great messages left by various graffiti artists who made it to the spot.
Asbestos-cord-wrapped glass tongs piled in a shed next to the pouring line.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
Numbers on a pillar counted tank capacity for a removed water container; an unhinged door in an unhinged factory beguiles those looking for an exit.
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.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
A closeup of a flour chute.
Blue skies and rust-pocked siding contrast the high-altitude blue sky. By the time I had worked my way back to the tram, it was sunset.
The powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
This picture gives you the idea of how the boat-loading control rooms are set up; they lean over the dock and Lake Superior to be able to see down into the holds of the boats… important, considering how quickly it loaded the boats! An uneven load could put stress on the hull of a laker, increasing the risk it will break and sink.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
A strange arcade machine in the basement.
Chutes from a hundred machines interconnect to more machines and chutes on a dozen factory floors.
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.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
Mounted in an office.
Old boathouses near the dock.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
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.
Fire doors and penis talk.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
Beside the shaft building are two fans on skids, indicating they were used underground.