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.
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.
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.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
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 powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
One of my favorite visual feature of grain elevators, especially big ones, is how they repeat.
The original metal sign over the porticos.
A line of huge machines wait to be used as parts under a long-disused belt drive.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
Because there’s no Port-a-John underground.
The corner of the elevator… lumber armored with steel for fireproofing and water resistance.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
Spare firebox bricks palleted on the second floor, is if it was going to be repaired.
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
I love the ‘hats’ on the top of the SWP-4 headhouse. FP-100C.
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 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 long exposure under the trestle-like approach to the dock, under which trains still pass regularly.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
This low brick building is interesting to me.
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.
Just across the North Dakota border, a rusty Milwaukee Road boxcar sits where it was shoved off the mainline. The grain elevator in the background marks the tracks, which is still used by BNSF.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
When the factory’s production line was up for auction, many parts were removed, crated and labeled with big painted numbers to ease their removal by buyers. Not everything sold, however, so not one dark corner of the factory seems without a pile of dislocated industrial junk.
One of the storage bunkers was cracked open. I wonder how effective this heavy door would actually be… I expect, not very.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
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.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
The old gate sign, leaned against one of the terminal elevators.
Old boathouses near the dock.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
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 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 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 steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
Disabled forklift… I think it’s a Clark.
A sharp turn in the coatings department twists the steel out of sight.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
C’mon and grab your friends… we’ll go to very—rusty lands…
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 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).
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
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.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
Looking down Pommenicher Straße from Gaststätte Rosarius, the monstrous machine about to devour the town bites at the ground.
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 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.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
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.
Christmas lights from the time Island Station was an art studio lean against a rusty boiler.
The copula stacks were fitted with scrubbers. Making metal is a very polluting activity.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
The original color of the wall was probably green.
An original, minimally remodeled bathroom above the cafeteria reminds us what the whole complex once looked like.
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.
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.
The surgical suite was flooding.
This part of the workhouse was sheathed in fiberglass, but now you can see its insides from a mile away.
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.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
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.
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.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
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.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
Under the monster and its teeth.
The front door to the auditorium.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
These ceramic bricks were likely from the fireproof tunnel that connected the elevators.
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 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.
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
The elevator is stuck between floors.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
I found a face.
This big rusty sphere hides behind the incomplete 5-stack.
A rooftop scene.
Old hospital beds.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
This is where the lime would spill out.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
Behind the evaporators are heavy access hatches to inspect the steam pipes within.
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.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
Workers’ lockers, strewn across Main Street, yet still out of the way.
The fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
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.
One evening I spent an hour lighting tea candles through the tunnels below the elevator. It was a magical transformation.
A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
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.
Drawn in fresh concrete about 50 years before I took this picture, and only 2 years after this elevator blew up…
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
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 ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
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.
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.
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 Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
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.
Two counterweighted elevators moved men between the surface, mine, and underground mill.
This picture typifies the industrial ideal of the early 20th century. More metal than air. More efficiency than beauty. More profits than people.
An original stencil-brushed sign.
A closeup of a flour chute.
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’.
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.
One of a few dozen steel bed frames left in the rubble of the collapsing building.
…a better view of the huge tailings boom stretching outside of the tailings pond.
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.
A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
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.
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.
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.
The many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
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.
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.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
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.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
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.
Much of the circa-1950s buildings remain with few alterations, such as these long boring sheet metal ruststicks.
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.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
Cages and hooks to dry wet miner clothes.
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.
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.
The factory was utterly vertical.
I love the texture of the rust through the decaying yellow paint.
Looking at the tallest part of the plant from a skeletal loading dock. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
These copulas made the iron for casting.
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.
A strange arcade machine in the basement.
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.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
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.
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.
It was as noisy then as it is colorful now…
This movable chute came off its rails.
A volcano (?) under a window.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
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.
The rust garden’s brick centerpiece contrasts the muted winter Kentucky palette.
The porcelain hoops guided the silk threads through the device.
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.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
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.
Water damage dissolved the ceiling into sludge. Pillars remain, as do the plastic light covers, now on the floor.
These buildings were largely used as concentrators for the crushed rock, although I did spy some small mills inside these too.
One of the old cooperage buildings is largely unchanged from when it was built. The raised section of the building houses a crane.
The coal crusher (above) and the conveyor (left) to bring the powdered coal to furnace hoppers (right).
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
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.
On the dark side of the workhouse at sunset, you can almost see where the walls used to be. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
Off the beaten path is this old LTV sign. Now it points to a ghost town and dead dock.
“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.
Colors of the boiler room.
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.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
Asbestos-cord-wrapped glass tongs piled in a shed next to the pouring line.
This tunnel goes to the adit over the Eagle River Mills. I bet those carts go fast down here!
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
#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.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
This rod mill (?) was made in Denver Colorado at a factory now buried by condos. #justdenverthings
A dead belt-o-vator.
There were bins with hundreds of spools in them in the basement.
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.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
Looking up the rock house.
Lockers for the boiler room workers.
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.”
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
The tallest dock structure is an equipment elevator that connects the many dock levels.
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 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.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
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.