A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
“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.”
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 sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
The old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
It will be a good harvest.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
Asbestos-cord-wrapped glass tongs piled in a shed next to the pouring line.
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).
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
From an unsteady perch atop the blast furnace, the morning light began to leach into the complex below.
The Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
A rooftop scene.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
A strange arcade machine in the basement.
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.
Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
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.
Christmas lights from the time Island Station was an art studio lean against a rusty boiler.
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.
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 movable chute came off its rails.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
The woman in the wall has the bed; is pulling it in; is holding you down…
The side of King that faces the lake is stained yellow-green.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
Looking across the whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
#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.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
The rust garden’s brick centerpiece contrasts the muted winter Kentucky palette.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
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.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
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.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
A multi-family home with an attic bedroom. The staircase was unstable, to say the least.
Atop Elevator ‘M’, formerly Cargill ‘O’.
A long exposure under the trestle-like approach to the dock, under which trains still pass regularly.
Shadows of the skylights form a backdrop for rust-welded machines.
A bank of vertical filing cabinets, probably dating to National Guard days.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
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.
Inside the west portal is a big liquid propane hand warmer, for workers to take the cold off their gloves as they handled the switches and doors of Cramer Tunnel. Mamiya GA645 / Kodak Pro 400
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
These copulas made the iron for casting.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
From the bottom of the skyway I looked back, my eyes tracing the vines from the marsh up the smokestacks to the perfect Midwestern sky.
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.
Interlocking bricks at the mouth of the stoker-less boiler.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
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.
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
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.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
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.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
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.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
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.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
This was a living space for the keepers during storms, when it was too dangerous to return to the houses on the point.
I included this image to illustrate the height of the headgrame and the distance between it and the hoist house. Of course, compared with the depth of the mine shaft, this distance is short.
Old boathouses near the dock.
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.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
Sarah below Cascade Park. This space was destroyed when the park flooded.
Water damage dissolved the ceiling into sludge. Pillars remain, as do the plastic light covers, now on the floor.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
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.
If it weren’t for the fact there were trees growing from it, and that I cropped out the end of the rail approach, one might think this is still used occasionally.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
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.
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.
Standing next to the now-demolished records room.
The dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
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.
Colors of the boiler room.
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.
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.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
Imagine with yellow window guards are eyebrows and the open windows are the eyes. This headframe seems a bit curious.
Beside the half-demolished Thunder Bay Elevator shops and offices (brick building) are some rusting fishing boats. A little bit of SWP #7 is seen in the upper right.
The holes were for men to poke reluctant ore with long poles, with the hope that a lucky jab would let the load slide down into the boat below. Now they’re just traps.
The many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
This is a 1956 furnace. It was used to forge wheels, casings, and parts for the axel shop.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
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.
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.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
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.
The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
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 corner of the elevator… lumber armored with steel for fireproofing and water resistance.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
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 perfect place to have a post-industrial picnic.
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.
C’mon and grab your friends… we’ll go to very—rusty lands…
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
The oldest part of this mill had a wooden roof that rotted away long ago. Slowly, rust is dulling the edge on every cog left behind.
I wish I knew what has become of this great one-of-a-kind sign that used to brag how many days the Clyde Iron factory has gone without a serious accident. Update: It’s hanging in one of the smaller venue spaces behind the bar.
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 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).
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.
Looking through the an access panel at the hoist room for Shaft No. 3. The cable had long ago been scrapped, along with the motors to drive the pulleys. I still admire the workmanship on the spool’s arching metal shell.
A closeup of a flour chute.
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
I believe this is the push car, meaning it would push the charge in the oven out the opposite side into the train car.
The bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
The first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
This is part of the oldest section of factory, one that hasn’t had a roof in a long time and all usable equipment has been extracted. The machines pictured would spin sliced beets in boiling water… it was a sealed system before someone cut holes on sides of each unit.
The front door to the auditorium.
Lockers for the boiler room workers.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like it.
A typical wall in the base.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
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 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.
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.
These buildings were largely used as concentrators for the crushed rock, although I did spy some small mills inside these too.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
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 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.
Aaron by the concentrator.
Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
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.
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.
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.
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 huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
A panoramic view of the sintering plant’s gas plant (?). Everyone who visits must get a picture of these rusty smokestacks!
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
Mounted in an office.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
Sprays of water kept the muddy mixture flowing across the sluices, which filtered out gold particles from gravel and dirty.
The end of one of the scrapped turbines. Judging by the aborted attempt at cutting it in half, the scrappers had some trouble with this one.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
Because the shaft is nearly vertical, rocks riding inside shift a lot. To keep them from breaking down the door and raining into the shaft.
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.
One of the storage bunkers was cracked open. I wonder how effective this heavy door would actually be… I expect, not very.
This picture is perhaps the most appropriate in its visual depiction of how unstable the mill was. 1. Note the lack of stairs on the spiral staircase; they’re rusted and twisted apart, not simply cut off. 2. Notice the cracked concrete on the lower left corner; that was cracking as I was standing on it taking this photo, and don’t think there’s anything under that to begin to stop one’s fall. 3. You’re looking into an open elevator shaft; its safety cage is sliced away and wide open.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
A dead belt-o-vator.
The original color of the wall was probably green.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
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.
Under the monster and its teeth.
One of the old cooperage buildings is largely unchanged from when it was built. The raised section of the building houses a crane.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
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 surgical suite was flooding.
The copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
In the nitrating house.
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.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
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.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
The UP gets a lot of snow, making exploring its old mines a special challenge in the winter. The snow is more than 6 feet deep in this picture, and firm enough to walk on.
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 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.
Latin; to grow. Root of the English word ‘surge’.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
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 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.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
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.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
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.