The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
The dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
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.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
Blue plastic siding filters the summer sun, giving the otherwise reddish-brown interior a splash of color.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
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.
In the nitrating house.
The two exhaust vents coming out from the boilers en route to the stacks. Plywood marks where where catwalks were removed to extract equipment.
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.
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.
The Comm Room’s portals once supported many more conduits.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
The many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
Taken at a junction in the tube world.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
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 through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
A high-ceilinged room where kegs would be delivered for cleaning, before they were refilled with fresh booze.
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.
In the upper left of the image you can see where the gas tanks used to be, along with the concentration equipment. Along the bottom you can also see some of the many railroad tracks coming and going from the plant–the ones visible here were incoming tracks that carried in hard coal from the eastern US.
A collapsing and unstable building.
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.
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.
Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
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 steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
A typical wall in the base.
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.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
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.
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.
Spare firebox bricks palleted on the second floor, is if it was going to be repaired.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
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.
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 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.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
The rust garden’s brick centerpiece contrasts the muted winter Kentucky palette.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
This is a 1956 furnace. It was used to forge wheels, casings, and parts for the axel shop.
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.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
…a better view of the huge tailings boom stretching outside of the tailings pond.
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 might have been part of the Pioneer Pellet Plant. It looks to be a ball mill, which pulverizes ore by spinning it with thousands of ball bearings.
A 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.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
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.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
The tops of the coke stoves.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. 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.
Without a roof, the bricks were being washed away in the later years of the roundhouse.
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 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 fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
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.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
A strange arcade machine in the basement.
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.
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.
A colorful makeshift wall.
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.
Between the gauges for the power plant boilers and the steam pump flywheels.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
I love the ‘hats’ on the top of the SWP-4 headhouse. FP-100C.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
Beside the shaft building are two fans on skids, indicating they were used underground.
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.
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.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
A pipe bracket seems to have rusted off of the ceiling.
A huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
The woman in the wall has the bed; is pulling it in; is holding you down…
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
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.
A closeup of a flour chute.
Behind the evaporators are heavy access hatches to inspect the steam pipes within.
A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
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.
This picture shows the challenges of moving around underground in the base.
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.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
Pocket door and light switches in the upper control room, at the top of the spiral staircase.
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like it.
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.
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.
“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.”
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).
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.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
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.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
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 pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
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.
This low brick building is interesting to me.
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.
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 porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
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 machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
A printing press in the attic of the Reception Hospital.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
Sprays of water kept the muddy mixture flowing across the sluices, which filtered out gold particles from gravel and dirty.
Asbestos-cord-wrapped glass tongs piled in a shed next to the pouring line.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
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 at the tallest part of the plant from a skeletal loading dock. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
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 side of King that faces the lake is stained yellow-green.
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.
The pipes in the boiler would be full of water, so the heat in the furnace.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
Looking out the finishing end of the sintering plant at a network of torched-off catwalks through a maze of rust and asbestos. Paradise.
In the grungy control room, I found a little slice that was never graffitied.
In case of fire, workers on higher floors would take the emergency slides to escape.
Old hospital beds.
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.
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
Looking up the rock house.
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 original metal sign over the porticos.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
Under the monster and its teeth.
I found a face.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
The first step of the filtering process is being spun through this tube.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
A sign in the desolate cafeteria.
A rooftop scene.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
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.
Much of the circa-1950s buildings remain with few alterations, such as these long boring sheet metal ruststicks.
A wrecked pressure gauge and employee time cards.
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 line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
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.
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.
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
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.
The stairs of this elevator had their landings removed long ago to keep vandals grounded.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
Off the beaten path is this old LTV sign. Now it points to a ghost town and dead dock.
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 Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
“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.
A long exposure under the trestle-like approach to the dock, under which trains still pass regularly.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
A closeup inside the mill’s power room.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
The factory was utterly vertical.
A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.
A volcano (?) under a window.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
A multi-family home with an attic bedroom. The staircase was unstable, to say the least.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
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.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
Two counterweighted elevators moved men between the surface, mine, and underground mill.
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.
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.
Mounted in an office.
The roof was in bad shape, but too beautiful to avoid. This is the spot were I used to study medieval Latin.
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.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.
The bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
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 picture typifies the industrial ideal of the early 20th century. More metal than air. More efficiency than beauty. More profits than people.
Looking down the kiln line from atop the furnaces.