The bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
Colors of the boiler room.
Two small generators connected to a Frick steam engine.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
This rod mill (?) was made in Denver Colorado at a factory now buried by condos. #justdenverthings
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.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
“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.”
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
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.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
Detail view of one of the fermenting tanks, still set-up for the distillery tours that no doubt took place when there last were such things. Nevertheless, the capacity of this tank multiplied across these all over the distillery floor really shows the power this company once had.
The ’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.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
The copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
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.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
One of the old cooperage buildings is largely unchanged from when it was built. The raised section of the building houses a crane.
Looking up the rock house.
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.
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.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
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 roof was in bad shape, but too beautiful to avoid. This is the spot were I used to study medieval Latin.
These copulas made the iron for casting.
Shadows of the skylights form a backdrop for rust-welded machines.
Fire doors and penis talk.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
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.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
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 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).
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.
A panoramic view of the sintering plant’s gas plant (?). Everyone who visits must get a picture of these rusty smokestacks!
Between the gauges for the power plant boilers and the steam pump flywheels.
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.
A printing press in the attic of the Reception Hospital.
Another ruined spiral staircase in the mill.
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.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
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.
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.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
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.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
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.
This part of the workhouse was sheathed in fiberglass, but now you can see its insides from a mile away.
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.
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.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
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.
This low brick building is interesting to me.
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.
On the dark side of the workhouse at sunset, you can almost see where the walls used to be. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
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.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
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.
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.
Sarah below Cascade Park. This space was destroyed when the park flooded.
Behind the evaporators are heavy access hatches to inspect the steam pipes within.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
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.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
Much of the circa-1950s buildings remain with few alterations, such as these long boring sheet metal ruststicks.
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.
Looking down the kiln line from atop the furnaces.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
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.
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.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
Old hospital beds.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
The woman in the wall has the bed; is pulling it in; is holding you down…
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like it.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
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.
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.
Looking across the whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
These buildings were largely used as concentrators for the crushed rock, although I did spy some small mills inside these too.
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 powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
The two exhaust vents coming out from the boilers en route to the stacks. Plywood marks where where catwalks were removed to extract equipment.
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.
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
This is where the lime would spill out.
Old boathouses near the dock.
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.
One of a few dozen steel bed frames left in the rubble of the collapsing building.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
This movable chute came off its rails.
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.
An original stencil-brushed sign.
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.
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.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
The fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
One evening I spent an hour lighting tea candles through the tunnels below the elevator. It was a magical transformation.
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.
It will be a good harvest.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
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.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
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.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
A huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
#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.
Off the beaten path is this old LTV sign. Now it points to a ghost town and dead dock.
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.
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
Mounted in an office.
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.
The tops of the coke stoves.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
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.
The stairs of this elevator had their landings removed long ago to keep vandals grounded.
A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.
Drawn in fresh concrete about 50 years before I took this picture, and only 2 years after this elevator blew up…
Without a roof, the bricks were being washed away in the later years of the roundhouse.
The boiler doors are beautiful, and feature the name of the smelter and mine company. If you like these, check my article on the Mitchell Yards of Hibbing, MN.
The factory was utterly vertical.
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.
Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.
The coal crusher (above) and the conveyor (left) to bring the powdered coal to furnace hoppers (right).
The old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
The first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
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.
A wrecked pressure gauge and employee time cards.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
Bits and things in a pile in the corner of the smelter, the unsold chunks of industrial history that didn’t sell at an on-site auction before my visit.
A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.
A volcano (?) under a window.
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.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
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 switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
The side of King that faces the lake is stained yellow-green.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
Two counterweighted elevators moved men between the surface, mine, and underground mill.
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.
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.
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.
Imagine with yellow window guards are eyebrows and the open windows are the eyes. This headframe seems a bit curious.
A closeup inside the mill’s power room.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
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.
An original, minimally remodeled bathroom above the cafeteria reminds us what the whole complex once looked like.
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.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
Sprays of water kept the muddy mixture flowing across the sluices, which filtered out gold particles from gravel and dirty.
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.
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.
At the top of a skyway that brought fresh-dried cotton into the Nitrating House from the Cotton Dry House. How? Monorail, of course.
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.
A bank of vertical filing cabinets, probably dating to National Guard days.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
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.
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.
Looking into the Pool 8 Annex from the original Ogilvie’s elevator.
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.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
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.
Christmas lights from the time Island Station was an art studio lean against a rusty boiler.
From an unsteady perch atop the blast furnace, the morning light began to leach into the complex below.
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).
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
A long exposure under the trestle-like approach to the dock, under which trains still pass regularly.
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.
A closeup of a flour chute.
Aaron by the concentrator.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
In the grungy control room, I found a little slice that was never graffitied.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.