The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
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.
Two small generators connected to a Frick steam engine.
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.
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
Beside the shaft building are two fans on skids, indicating they were used underground.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
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 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.
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.
I love the ‘hats’ on the top of the SWP-4 headhouse. FP-100C.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
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
The steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
It will be a good harvest.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
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.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
One of the old cooperage buildings is largely unchanged from when it was built. The raised section of the building houses a crane.
This picture gives you the idea of how the boat-loading control rooms are set up; they lean over the dock and Lake Superior to be able to see down into the holds of the boats… important, considering how quickly it loaded the boats! An uneven load could put stress on the hull of a laker, increasing the risk it will break and sink.
One evening I spent an hour lighting tea candles through the tunnels below the elevator. It was a magical transformation.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
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.
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.
Aaron by the concentrator.
The fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
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 natural reaction with this kind of view.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
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.
A closeup inside the mill’s power room.
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.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
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.
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 switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
The old way to get to the elevator from the mill.
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.
Without a roof, the bricks were being washed away in the later years of the roundhouse.
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.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
This picture typifies the industrial ideal of the early 20th century. More metal than air. More efficiency than beauty. More profits than people.
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.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
Pocket door and light switches in the upper control room, at the top of the spiral staircase.
A massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
The perfect place to have a post-industrial picnic.
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.
From an unsteady perch atop the blast furnace, the morning light began to leach into the complex below.
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
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.
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.
I love the texture of the rust through the decaying yellow paint.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
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.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
The tops of the coke stoves.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
Chutes from a hundred machines interconnect to more machines and chutes on a dozen factory floors.
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.
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.
Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
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.
Shadows of the skylights form a backdrop for rust-welded machines.
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.
This big rusty sphere hides behind the incomplete 5-stack.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
Drawn in fresh concrete about 50 years before I took this picture, and only 2 years after this elevator blew up…
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
Mounted in an office.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
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.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
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.
A typical wall in the base.
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 rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
A bank of vertical filing cabinets, probably dating to National Guard days.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
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 original color of the wall was probably green.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
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.
The shaft house, where hydraulic steel doors allowed or denied entry into the mine shaft. Overhead is a light and alarm. If it sounds, the mine is being evacuated, and you best not go in and best stay the hell out of the way. Locals dump tires here, now.
The ’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.
A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
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.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
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.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
Sarah below Cascade Park. This space was destroyed when the park flooded.
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.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
The factory was utterly vertical.
“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.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
Looking out the finishing end of the sintering plant at a network of torched-off catwalks through a maze of rust and asbestos. Paradise.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
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.
A closeup of a flour chute.
A colorful makeshift wall.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
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.
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.
Fire doors and penis talk.
Colors of the boiler room.
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 many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
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.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
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.
Spare firebox bricks palleted on the second floor, is if it was going to be repaired.
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
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 is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
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.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
“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.”
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
A dead belt-o-vator.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
Through a section of the tailings boom where mountain winds tore open the sheet metal around the conveyor, I poked my head out.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
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.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
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).
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
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.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
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 old No Trespassing sign, with the Peavey logo still on it.
Old boathouses near the dock.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
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.
The front door to the auditorium.
The rust garden’s brick centerpiece contrasts the muted winter Kentucky palette.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
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.
The powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
This is a 1956 furnace. It was used to forge wheels, casings, and parts for the axel shop.
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.
Looking down the kiln line from atop the furnaces.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
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.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
My favorite shot of 2011; a rusty mold for a heart-shaped glass candy dish in its natural environment, so to speak.
A wrecked pressure gauge and employee time cards.
Old hospital beds.
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.
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.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
A dead work truck rusts near an outbuilding. Everything is marked with a code. Modernity.
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.
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like it.
A printing press in the attic of the Reception Hospital.
Stained windows and sheet metal catch the sunset from across the Ohio River.
The gold mine is now a gravel pit.
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.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
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 copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
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.