Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
#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.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
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 powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
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.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
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 Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
I believe this is the push car, meaning it would push the charge in the oven out the opposite side into the train car.
Power-up to cool down… would have been nice on the hot day I climbed on top of this machine.
Pocket door and light switches in the upper control room, at the top of the spiral staircase.
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.
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.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
On the dark side of the workhouse at sunset, you can almost see where the walls used to be. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Much of the circa-1950s buildings remain with few alterations, such as these long boring sheet metal ruststicks.
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.
Latin; to grow. Root of the English word ‘surge’.
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.
Behind the evaporators are heavy access hatches to inspect the steam pipes within.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
A rooftop scene.
The bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
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.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
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.
An original, minimally remodeled bathroom above the cafeteria reminds us what the whole complex once looked like.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
Two counterweighted elevators moved men between the surface, mine, and underground mill.
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.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
The view from the larry, looking out at the overgrowing coke oven top. Papers listed the order of the charges for each oven, noting the sticky doors and persistent leaks. Emergency respirators and rescue gear was stored close, as long exposure to emissions from the rusty hatches could make worker pass out on the top of the ovens.
“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.
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.
Looking at the tallest part of the plant from a skeletal loading dock. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
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.
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 first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
The perfect place to have a post-industrial picnic.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
Asbestos-cord-wrapped glass tongs piled in a shed next to the pouring line.
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.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
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.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
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.
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.
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.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
C’mon and grab your friends… we’ll go to very—rusty lands…
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
Looking up the rock house.
Blue plastic siding filters the summer sun, giving the otherwise reddish-brown interior a splash of color.
The two exhaust vents coming out from the boilers en route to the stacks. Plywood marks where where catwalks were removed to extract equipment.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
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.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
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 side of King that faces the lake is stained yellow-green.
A long exposure under the trestle-like approach to the dock, under which trains still pass regularly.
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 old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock 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.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
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.
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.
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.
Without a roof, the bricks were being washed away in the later years of the roundhouse.
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.
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.
This was a living space for the keepers during storms, when it was too dangerous to return to the houses on the point.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
I love the ‘hats’ on the top of the SWP-4 headhouse. FP-100C.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
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 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.
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 ’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.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
A sign in the desolate cafeteria.
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
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.
This rod mill (?) was made in Denver Colorado at a factory now buried by condos. #justdenverthings
Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.
Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
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.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
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 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 strange arcade machine in the basement.
The woman in the wall has the bed; is pulling it in; is holding you down…
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
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.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
This part of the workhouse was sheathed in fiberglass, but now you can see its insides from a mile away.
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
No wonder the factory shut down; everyone was scheduled to work 9 to 5 and the clock’s broken! (In all seriousness, this is/used to be a beautiful timepiece, especially for a utilitarian factory like this.
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 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.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
A typical wall in the base.
The stairs of this elevator had their landings removed long ago to keep vandals grounded.
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 bank of vertical filing cabinets, probably dating to National Guard days.
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.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
The tops of the coke stoves.
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.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
Mounted in an office.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
Stained windows and sheet metal catch the sunset from across the Ohio River.
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.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
The roof was in bad shape, but too beautiful to avoid. This is the spot were I used to study medieval Latin.
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).
Lockers for the boiler room workers.
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
At the top of a skyway that brought fresh-dried cotton into the Nitrating House from the Cotton Dry House. How? Monorail, of course.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
This big rusty sphere hides behind the incomplete 5-stack.
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.
Old boathouses near the dock.
A panoramic view of the sintering plant’s gas plant (?). Everyone who visits must get a picture of these rusty smokestacks!
The Comm Room’s portals once supported many more conduits.
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.
The dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
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.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
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.
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 American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
The new steel door of the diesel car shops, built in 1948 and used through the 1960s, as seen from the service pit. On the top of the photograph you can see the exhaust vent.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
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 winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
Water damage dissolved the ceiling into sludge. Pillars remain, as do the plastic light covers, now on the floor.
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.
In the nitrating house.
The front door to the auditorium.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
Old hospital beds.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
Christmas lights from the time Island Station was an art studio lean against a rusty boiler.
The original color of the wall was probably green.
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.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
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.
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.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
It will be a good harvest.
Aaron by the concentrator.
A pipe bracket seems to have rusted off of the ceiling.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
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.
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’.
The factory was utterly vertical.
Looking across the whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
In the grungy control room, I found a little slice that was never graffitied.
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.
Another ruined spiral staircase in the mill.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.