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.
Mounted in an office.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
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.
A dead work truck rusts near an outbuilding. Everything is marked with a code. Modernity.
A collapsing and unstable building.
Another ruined spiral staircase in the mill.
Some warnings on the older battery which was visibly older than its eastern counterpart. This set of batteries had no railing between the side of the ovens and a long drop onto railroad tracks… I like this picture because it shows the effects of the heat and corrosive gasses on the area around the ovens.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
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 fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
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.
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.
One of a few dozen steel bed frames left in the rubble of the collapsing building.
The surgical suite was flooding.
A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
Atop Elevator ‘M’, formerly Cargill ‘O’.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
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 better view of the huge tailings boom stretching outside of the tailings pond.
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.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
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.
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.
A high-ceilinged room where kegs would be delivered for cleaning, before they were refilled with fresh booze.
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
A panoramic view of the sintering plant’s gas plant (?). Everyone who visits must get a picture of these rusty smokestacks!
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
Old hospital beds.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
Chutes from a hundred machines interconnect to more machines and chutes on a dozen factory floors.
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.
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.
Latin; to grow. Root of the English word ‘surge’.
The stairs of this elevator had their landings removed long ago to keep vandals grounded.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
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.
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.
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
The roof was in bad shape, but too beautiful to avoid. This is the spot were I used to study medieval Latin.
An original, minimally remodeled bathroom above the cafeteria reminds us what the whole complex once looked like.
The old way to get to the elevator from the mill.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
Blue plastic siding filters the summer sun, giving the otherwise reddish-brown interior a splash of color.
This was a living space for the keepers during storms, when it was too dangerous to return to the houses on the point.
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.
A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.
The old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
A multi-family home with an attic bedroom. The staircase was unstable, to say the least.
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.
In the grungy control room, I found a little slice that was never graffitied.
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.
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.
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.
The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
This is where the lime would spill out.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
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.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
Looking at the tallest part of the plant from a skeletal loading dock. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
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.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
Levers and indicators to control and track the path of mine cars moving up and down the mine shaft. Note the mine depth indicators would trace paper… this is because the steel cables stretch out over time, so the line length changes with the years.
The copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
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.
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
The woman in the wall has the bed; is pulling it in; is holding you down…
Under the monster and its teeth.
A colorful makeshift wall.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
This big rusty sphere hides behind the incomplete 5-stack.
A dead belt-o-vator.
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.
It will be a good harvest.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
The old gate sign, leaned against one of the terminal elevators.
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.
The Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
An interesting crane in the back of the machine shop. It seems very light duty, so I am not certain what it was used for.
Behind the factory was an old truck, blocked in by overgrown trees on one side and the buildings on the other.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
Sprays of water kept the muddy mixture flowing across the sluices, which filtered out gold particles from gravel and dirty.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
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.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
One thing that made the Eagle Mine unique is the underground mill, left of this picture. As the rocks moved down the mill, they would be turned into finer and finer powder.
The elevator is stuck between floors.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
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.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
Two small generators connected to a Frick steam engine.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
Between the gauges for the power plant boilers and the steam pump flywheels.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
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.
Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
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.
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.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
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.
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 rooftop scene.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
The coal crusher (above) and the conveyor (left) to bring the powdered coal to furnace hoppers (right).
A pipe bracket seems to have rusted off of the ceiling.
At the top of a skyway that brought fresh-dried cotton into the Nitrating House from the Cotton Dry House. How? Monorail, of course.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
The conveyor between the shore and Dock 2. Note the gap in the aerial walkway that used to connect Dock 4 to the rest of the complex.
Shadows of the skylights form a backdrop for rust-welded machines.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
Looking into the Pool 8 Annex from the original Ogilvie’s elevator.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
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.
These buildings were largely used as concentrators for the crushed rock, although I did spy some small mills inside these too.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
In the mine offices, hooks and a board with numbers was the system to keep track of who was in the mine and who was safe.
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.
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.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
Looking out from my perch close to the Kam toward the Ogilvie head house. To the left is a newer concrete annex, probably built in the years it bore the name Saskatchewan Pool 8.
The steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
The many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
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.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
On the dark side of the workhouse at sunset, you can almost see where the walls used to be. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
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.
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.
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.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
Looking across the whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
The top of Dock 4 was too dangerous to explore, but this panorama gives you an idea of the view (and how rotten the wood was).
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
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.
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.
A sign in the desolate cafeteria.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like it.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
Pocket door and light switches in the upper control room, at the top of the spiral staircase.
The perfect place to have a post-industrial picnic.
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.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
Interlocking bricks at the mouth of the stoker-less boiler.
This movable chute came off its rails.
One of the old cooperage buildings is largely unchanged from when it was built. The raised section of the building houses a crane.
A typical wall in the base.
The bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
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.
I found a face.
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.
Standing next to the now-demolished records room.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
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.
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.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
The power plant of the Old Crow distillery was mostly original. I didn’t have a tripod, so I had to balance my camera on the equipment there.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
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.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
A strange arcade machine in the basement.
A closeup of a flour chute.
Power-up to cool down… would have been nice on the hot day I climbed on top of this machine.
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.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
I love the ‘hats’ on the top of the SWP-4 headhouse. FP-100C.
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.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
A quick vertical panorama taken on my back at the sweet spot of a great summer sunset. On the skylight is the torch-cut catwalk that used to link the outside of the smokestacks that vented the cupolas.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.