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.
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 fantastic Art Deco portico over the main entrance to the concourse.
A huge steel tank, one of several left over, left over from either the Ashland Oil or Allied Chemical periods.
A one-of-a-kind installation in Armour’s otherwise gutted engine house.
The rust garden’s brick centerpiece contrasts the muted winter Kentucky palette.
I like this picture because it shows some of the only unbroken windows at Packard.
Behind the evaporators are heavy access hatches to inspect the steam pipes within.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
Where the tailings boom meets the mill.
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.
Blue skies and rust-pocked siding contrast the high-altitude blue sky. By the time I had worked my way back to the tram, it was sunset.
The stairs of this elevator had their landings removed long ago to keep vandals grounded.
A rusting disconnect gangway. The smokestack is for a boiler, if I recall.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
“The fresh snow mixed indistinguishably from the ashes of the half-demolished power plant.”
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
The new steel door of the diesel car shops, built in 1948 and used through the 1960s, as seen from the service pit. On the top of the photograph you can see the exhaust vent.
The 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 surgical suite was flooding.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
Mounted in an office.
This little curled yellow thing is one of the last hints that this adobe building was lived in.
Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
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.
An original stencil-brushed sign.
Looking through the center of a scrapped generator, its copper long scrapped.
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 ’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 rooftop scene.
A new loading shed to fill train cars.
Between the gauges for the power plant boilers and the steam pump flywheels.
Outside the locker room without the sandwiches and beer… plenty of glass shards, though, if you feel like 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.
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 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 Dock 5 sign at track level. Probably as an aid to sailors reboarding their vessels.
The tops of the coke stoves.
The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
Stained windows and sheet metal catch the sunset from across the Ohio River.
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.
These buildings were largely used as concentrators for the crushed rock, although I did spy some small mills inside these too.
In the far back of the cellars there are some old bottles. This arch shows an old entrance to the cellars, now collapsed.
The factory was utterly vertical.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
Part of the back of the distribution boards; the rear of a giant remote transformer switch.
Atop Elevator ‘M’, formerly Cargill ‘O’.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
A volcano (?) under a window.
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 coal crusher (above) and the conveyor (left) to bring the powdered coal to furnace hoppers (right).
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 elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
The steel sea leg is so heavy it requires a huge counterweight that travels the height of the elevator.
The old gate sign, leaned against one of the terminal elevators.
Latin; to grow. Root of the English word ‘surge’.
Captured bolts for a pressure cooker on an industrial scale.
Standing next to the now-demolished records room.
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 whole milling operation from its dedicated powerhouse stretching across Eagle River.
This wheel scoops the washings from the sluice room and places it on the tailings conveyor.
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.
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.
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.
Where workers would sign documents and collect their pay.
The well-worn chair in one larry’s operator cab, next to an overgrown coke battery.
A wimpy crane by most standards, only suitable for moving around parts of steam turbines.
In the grungy control room, I found a little slice that was never graffitied.
A switch for the yard engines, now on the edge of the property where nobody will find it.
A little sheet metal box somehow made it back home.
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 powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
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 massive steel sheer’s equally massive drive cog. Imagine the force.
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.
Beside the shaft building are two fans on skids, indicating they were used underground.
The side of King that faces the lake is stained yellow-green.
Looking out from my perch close to the Kam toward the Ogilvie head house. To the left is a newer concrete annex, probably built in the years it bore the name Saskatchewan Pool 8.
The front door to the auditorium.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
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.
A vintage X-Ray machine in the oldest section of the hospital.
This steel cup on the card would move molten copper to the caster from the furnace.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
The corner of the elevator… lumber armored with steel for fireproofing and water resistance.
Judging by the bed, this room was used by employees in its later years.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
The pipes in the boiler would be full of water, so the heat in the furnace.
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.
Much of the milling equipment predated the mill itself, so I would not be surprised if this particular machine really dates to 1860.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
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.
In the nitrating house.
A collapsing and unstable building.
A dead work truck rusts near an outbuilding. Everything is marked with a code. Modernity.
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 Comm Room’s portals once supported many more conduits.
A closeup of a soon-to-be-scrapped crane pulley.
I believe this is the push car, meaning it would push the charge in the oven out the opposite side into the train car.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
This low brick building is interesting to me.
Off the beaten path is this old LTV sign. Now it points to a ghost town and dead dock.
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 bottom of the stairs leading from the work floor to the cafeteria.
A sheik mustard-yellow paint scheme across the roofless engine house goes great with the industrial moss and rust.
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.
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 multi-family home with an attic bedroom. The staircase was unstable, to say the least.
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.
Under the monster and its teeth.
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.
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.
After a religious conversion from actors to projectors, a rebranding was in order.
Looking through the trestle toward the ghost town.
One of a few dozen steel bed frames left in the rubble of the collapsing building.
This big rusty sphere hides behind the incomplete 5-stack.
The rear of engine bay 13… according to the heavily faded sign.
It’s never a good sign when the windows are boarded from the inside.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
Looking through the washer that is the first stop for the dredgings.
Two counterweighted elevators moved men between the surface, mine, and underground mill.
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.
I couldn’t help but include this ghost sign for a demolished motel…
A closeup of the now-scrapped steel chute.
A staircase threads between the top floor and the sluices, which are in the middle of the dredge-mill.
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.
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.
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
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
Spare firebox bricks palleted on the second floor, is if it was going to be repaired.
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 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.
Iron becoming dirt becoming birches.
This was a living space for the keepers during storms, when it was too dangerous to return to the houses on the point.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
The original color of the wall was probably green.
Jet Lowe is my inspiration.
One of the many blast doors. Note the plunger to seal off the airflow in the event of an attack or accidental explosion.
I love when moss grows indoors… one of the little pleasures of exploring abandonments.
This is the crane that would be used to lower extra-heavy bits of copper ore into the fire of the furnace.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
A colorful makeshift wall.
At the extreme eastern end of the plant is a bank of modern concrete silos. Kodak Portra 160/Mamiya 6.
A typical wall in the base.
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
Looking into the Pool 8 Annex from the original Ogilvie’s elevator.
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.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
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.
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.
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
From the bottom of the skyway I looked back, my eyes tracing the vines from the marsh up the smokestacks to the perfect Midwestern sky.
“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.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
A sign in the desolate cafeteria.
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.
Colors of the boiler room.
Aaron by the concentrator.
This part of the workhouse was sheathed in fiberglass, but now you can see its insides from a mile away.
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.
The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
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.
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.
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.
Looking out the finishing end of the sintering plant at a network of torched-off catwalks through a maze of rust and asbestos. Paradise.
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.
Chutes from a hundred machines interconnect to more machines and chutes on a dozen factory floors.
A closeup of one of the winding machines that found itself under a leaky section of roof.
A dead belt-o-vator.
Days after the long-flooded basement was pumped out. Note the water lines!
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.
Looking into one of the fire slides, designed to evacuate patients extremely quickly. In 1880, a fire completely destroyed the asylum at St. Peter, Minnesota, killing 30 patients.
A printing press in the attic of the Reception Hospital.
Water damage dissolved the ceiling into sludge. Pillars remain, as do the plastic light covers, now on the floor.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
A high-ceilinged room where kegs would be delivered for cleaning, before they were refilled with fresh booze.
Looking up the rock house.
Fire doors and penis talk.
This section of the hospital recently collapsed.
One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.
Blue plastic siding filters the summer sun, giving the otherwise reddish-brown interior a splash of color.
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.
Drawn in fresh concrete about 50 years before I took this picture, and only 2 years after this elevator blew up…
A wrecked pressure gauge and employee time cards.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
“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 dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
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.