signs

101-B

An original stencil-brushed sign.

Mine Evacuation Alarm

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.

10 Operators 5 Casuals

“Ballistite is a smokeless propellant made from two high explosives, nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. It was developed and patented by Alfred Nobel in the late 19th century.” -Wikipedia.

Skyway: Section 4

One thing I like about the oppressive globalist-wrought future is the idea of numerically subdividing spaces; my geek side sort of wants to live in a flat that can be sorted by as Dewey Decimal-like code.

Lunchroom

An employee lunchroom with every door and window covered in vented steel.

Agitator 233

The top floor of the nitrating house was full of switches and breakers for the operation below, each bearing a label and number. Nowadays everything is printed, but when INAAP was built, all these signs were painted by hand.

Branding

To make sure the tourists aren’t scared off, the city painted the side of the elevator with one of its historic names.

Trains at General Mills “A”

A passing cloud almost looks like a puff of smoke from the trimmed smokestack of Consolidated D. In the lower corner you can see a little Stonehenge that someone with a sense of humor and heavy equipment built.

Signals

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.

God Loves Lime

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.

Building 402

Unloading boats had the option to take on fuel at Taconite Harbor. This building, among other things, pumped fuel to the dock.

Old Central & The Antenna Farm

Looking up the hill from the rooftop of the Temple Opera Block. The downtown casino (left) looks far closer to its original use as a Sears Roebuck department store than it does today. Behind it is the blighted Carter Hotel, one of many abandoned buildings near the former Orpheum.

Stay Glassy Minneapolis

“But everyone I used to know was either dead or in prison
So I came back to Minneapolis this time I think I’m gonna stay” -Tom Waits

Entrance to BOM

Above my head while taking this picture was the seal of the Department of the Interior.

Snowed In Dryhouse

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.

The Danger Line

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.

Be C- Watch You- Step

A cracked sign at dock-level, where loading boats would be tied below the taconite conveyors. All across the surface of the concrete dock were taconite pellets, like slippery little marbles. One wrong step could put a worker in the water, which is a bad, bad place to be.

Cloverleaf Smelter Boilers

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.

ADM-Delmar #1- When Entering Grain Bins

One of my favorite signs, informing workers about to descend into the open-top grain bins about basic procedures. This was in ADM-Annex 1 (connected to the cleaning house via skyway), so it will never be seen again, unless the sign lands luckily when the elevator is demolished.

Beet Levels

This volume gauge could be read from 30 feet away, which is useful when the control panels and valves are that far away.

Siftter Chutes

Before developers saw to cut and cut the flour mills inside Pillsbury, they stood at the ready beside various purposeful chutes the traversed the floors of between sorters. These machines were belt-driven by the power of Pillsbury’s Mississippi headraces and turbines, the force of which notoriously shook the building’s foundations themselves. The wheels would change the grade of the flour, or the size of the dust produced from crushing the kernels.

Best Flour Panorama

The back of the neon sign before it was converted to LED lighting. The image is mirrored so it can be read.

Safety Pays

It remains unexplained what ‘serious results’ may stem from not reporting an accident, but when labor was cheap and unorganized I doubt anyone asked.

Whiskey Barrels and Terra Cotta

Between the Old Crow and Old Taylor bonded warehouses are some of the fouled barrels, now the only ones left, which were left to rot in the elements. Nearby in a loading bay that has obviously been disused longer than the rest of the property, terra cotta roofing waits in crates.

Bldg. B

I found a meth lab in this building once. (Yes, I called it in.)

Mixing Series Number Six

Between lines of Number Sixes right after sun rose behind them. This photo shows how extremely lush the grounds are that make getting around in some places impossible.

Smoking in a Powder Plant

In an era where smoking was ubiquitous and sexy, smoking stations had to be a part of the job, even at an explosives factory.

Bucket Lift

With the maintenance door open you can see the buckets on in the vertical conveyor.

Film: Juice Levels

Thick glass windows allow workers to check the beet juice levels in this steel tank. You can tell by the reinforcement that it had a lot of liquid and had to hold against immense pressure. Kodak Tri-X 400/Leica M7.

ADM-Delmar #4- Basement Bell

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.

Water Tower

Looking out at the town water tower (which I love) from the sugar mill (which I also love).

Kurth Malting- Cupola

Kurth bears a ghost sign. Recently, its main sign was destroyed by graffiti artists in 2015.

Beulah, MB

This elevator was built in 1922 and was used until the passing rails were removed in the mid-1970s.

Isabella, MB- Service at Cost

Inside the office was a small furnace and a collection of mechanical belts. You can see “SERVICE AT COST” and “POOL 168” in the background.

Dead-End Bridge

A bridge crosses the main street of the village; one that goes nowhere. Ambiguity intended.

Holmfield, MB- Harrison Milling

The flour mill (rear) and its elevators. The taller elevator was moved here in 1955, when the Harrisons bought it from Federal, who declared it surplus. The smaller elevator replaced an earlier smaller warehouse in 1926. Taken shortly after dawn. This one picture made the drive worth it, for me. Medium Format.

Packing Conveyor

Looking at the ghost sign from a rust-locked cement conveyor that linked the silos with a packing warehouse.

440 Volts

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.

One Ear

Standing between pockets 1 and 2. You brought hearing protection, right?

Substation Sign

The pockmarked concrete sign of Substation #2 over the control room that faces the highway.

Ogilvie’s- Ship Gallery Arch (Arista 100)

When the ship loaders were added, a doorway was cut through the metal silo to make a room for the grain handling equipment. Note the dust sensor in the corner of the torch-cut archway.

Western Cable RR and Lemp Malting

A sunset shot of the Western Cable Railroad depot in the middle of the Lemp brewery complex, with the malting house in the background. Western used to have an exclusive shipping contract with Lemp.

Sign of Intruders

The last time the city sealed this door, they must have been changing out old road signs.

Pipe Reference

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.

Hospital Portico

When it became “Hyde Park Hospital”, this portico was added onto the front.

Service Window

A walk-up service window on the side of an administration building of some sort. I have a feeling the buildings were color coded.

Servir

Serve [unknown] Build… What do you think the middle says? Tell me in the comments.

Bldg 253

This building seemed like a pump house or compressor house. It was full of empty concrete mounts.

Prize Mine Sign

The mine was built with stone, wood, and steel. It’s in good condition.

Pipe Dept.

Although most of the buildings were open and empty, a few carried signs.

Old Ward Room #217

Part of the unremodeled hospital, above the Service Building, where employees would stay sometimes.

Vivacious Veteran

No, it’s not your Mac’s desktop, it’s a beautiful Lake Superior night. Taken from near the former Pittsburgh and Reading Anthracite Plant. You can see the frame that used to hold the lifeboat that was auctioned in 2006 to the left of the Pilot House.

Row 189

This machine was last overhauled in February 1955, and last turned out Crepe silk, probably dress material.

Dept 5157

In the corner of most of the factory floors, freight elevators flanked restrooms to leave more central space for machines and their masters.

Steam Downstream

In the steam plant, steam pipes bundled in canvas and asbestos criss-cross the walls.

Success

My first night on Minneapolis’ Lighthouse–now an old picture and distant memory… I still remember the exhilaration and the view of the city off one edge of the roof and the Mississippi River over the other.

ADM-Delmar #1- No Clearance

Looking at ADM-1 from beside ADM-4, back when ADM-4 had a train shed and ADM-1 had a skyway. In the thick woods beneath the skyway was a long time homeless camp… most of its residents were very friendly.

Corner Logo

The corner of the original buildings still carry the Lemp logo!

The Adler

The old hotel doesn’t like to show its age. Indeed, if it had a few paint job and soft remodel it would be fit to open–that is, if there was a need for it in this tiny rural New York town.

Enough to Hang By

Asbestos rope isn’t something you can buy at Home Depot anymore, but it’s fire and heat resistant stuff; great for industrial work, like in a sugar mill.

Ogilvie Elevator Sign

On the outside of the steel silos and headhouse is a riveted bulge that does not look like the silos. Inside is this elevator, a rudimentary (read: dangerous) and old (read: dangerous) freight elevator.

LEMP Elevator

Looking up at the LEMP malting plant elevator. Look at that BRICKWORK!

Headquarters in Fog

The headquarters for the plant was in the middle of it. It’s abandoned but well preserved–a strange sight in Gary, Indiana.

Direct Drop Off

One of my favorite signs. I imagine something like this happened when it was put up: “Wow, that’s a big sign.” “Yeah, you’re going to be putting it up in the elevator at the service door.” “Have you thought of may locking the door?” “What?” “You know, lock it so that there’s no risk, sign aside, of us going through and falling to our death.” “Shut up and just install the damn sign.”

Main Gate

The main gate, as seen in 2005. It hasn’t changed much since then.

Kentucky Castle

Zachary Taylor’s very own Scottish castle, spring-side in the Kentucky backcountry. Boarded and waiting, but in surprisingly good condition, considering the decades. I especially love the tower on the right side of the frame.

Flavor Fridges, 2005

2005. Flavored beers are still popular. The flavor concentrates were stored in this bank of fridges.

Distillery Door

The back door into the old distillery building. Not castle-like at all, sadly.

Boarded Brew House

From the street, it’s clear that almost every window and door had boards over it, but not every building had a roof. Silly priorities.

TCRT East Shop II

A firedoor dating to the original car barn is roped off, anticipating demolition.

Pool 8 Door

The end of the new elevator. Line of bird droppings follow the fire sprinkler pipes and wires in the room.

Safety is Slow

Safety signs decorated every floor, machine and, yes, door. This message spoke to me for reasons my coworkers will understand; suffice to say, I need to take this message to heart.

Workmen’s Compensation

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’.

Brewery Tower

Lit by the glow of St. Paul’s West Seventh bars, highlighted by the cool blue of the sleepy section of South Side. This castle-like tower can be seen for miles around town; a Landmark at the brewery that brewed a brew by the that name.

Boarded Barracks II

Vents in the boards over the windows helps prevent mold and animals from getting too crazy inside.

Armor Stacks

From a distance (here, Union Yards), you can still see ARMOUR spelled out on the smokestack in white brick.

Paint Shop

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.

Fermenter Sixteen

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.

Campaign Tracker

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.

View from the Booth

It’s a straight view from the projection booth to the stage, but hell of a walk. At a fast pace, I think it would take 10 minutes to walk from this spot to the chair. Behind the curtains is a big white screen, so the theatre could be used for either stagework or moving pictures. The two projectors are set up for 3D movies right now–hence the little switch below the window–a Polaroid 3D synchronizer. Cool, huh?

Dock 5L

One of the covered rail loading docks. All of them were overgrown and rust-clad.

Tillston, MB- Pool Elevator

The offices for the Five Roses elevator have long been boarded. To the left you can see the Manitoba Pool Elevator slogan, “Service at Cost”, meaning they would not make profit off farmers and dues.

Dryhouse

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.

Eighth Floor Warning

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.

Barrel Conveyor

Barrels were prepared across the street, then moved across the road with a special conveyor, seen crashed here. This is down the road from Old Taylor, and was probably a part of the Old Crow operation.

Full Stop Skyway

Looking from the powerhouse across to the old Electrical Assembly side of the plant that manufactured products like thermostats. Most of the complex is connected by skyway and tunnel systems.

Lost Time – (C)SUBSTREET

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.

Railroad Depot

A squat building with a rail scale. Taken between rain showers in late summer, when I seemed to be the only one at White Pine.

Huron-Portland Cement, Duluth Plant

As photographed from a cement piling for Slip #3 poured in 1935, disconnected from land by erosion. How do I know the date? A pair of steamship engineers carved their initials and ranks into the wet cement!

Beauty Shop

In the basement were all the valves to control the flow of municipal steam through the building. This hasty hand letting was beside one such valve, near a carved brick with a name and ‘1934’ under it.

Fe(r)mentation

Note that the back of Stockhouse #4 is missing. A year later, Fermentation was on the ground too.

Laundry

The laundry building, where many of the tunnels came to an end. It looks very East Coast industrial to me.

STOPlease

The sign that greets visitors to the ghost town of Colmor. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like birdshot.

Calumet Elevator- Coal Room Door

This corner of the building was the coal room, used to feed the two big boilers inside. The steam equipment has been replaced with electric, so this section may not have changed much in the past decades.

Coke Batter B Control

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.

Storage Vault Door

One of the storage bunkers was cracked open. I wonder how effective this heavy door would actually be… I expect, not very.

Steering Instructions

In case one forgot… mounted behind the appropriate valves. Who hasn’t memorized the appropriate valve positions?

Franz-Engels-Straße

The coal extractor swings back and forth, ripping coal from the ground and throwing it on a conveyor belt to be burned a few miles away.

Swinging Light

It was obvious which parts of the hospital were the newest, by their relative utter self destruction. It’s comforting to the Cubical Dwellers, I think, to know that as soon as the power and plumbing are disconnected that all hell will break loose and dismantle their suspended ceilings, drywall boxes and fluorescent suns in no time at all.

By Pass Stokerside

A control panel that was mothballed, anticipating a time when the plant may be reactivated.

To Station – To Offices

Inside the main entrance to the depot. Through the ‘To Station’ door, you can see some of the news stands. Look at the floor!

ADM-Delmar #4- Belt Spider

Every elevator has sets of these conveyor switches. Grain comes down through the top chute and the bottom chute rotates to move the flow onto various belts around the plant by gravity. The cross belt is another switch and the bridge belt brings the flow to the other half of the elevator.

Department Sign

I found a historical photo of this room showing 10-foot high machines with wires hanging by the mile from looms and schematic charts.

Dock 2 at Sunset

Winter skies over Allouez Bay. From a distance, it looks almost fragile.

Superior Street

Superior Street, as seen from the roof of the Temple Opera Block. Below is one of the sealed sidewalk elevator hatches.

Power Plant

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.

Flare-Ups

If you’re an Astra-Zenica representative and want to use this for some magazine ad, I’ll charge you a reasonable $10,000. Email me (ha)!

Brach’s Headquarters

The office building was fancy compared to the utilitarian factory behind it. My favorite part was the logo crown.

GMF Ladder

Ladders crawl the back of the signs. Graffiti writers’ right of passage.

Double Con

Standing on a caustic tank with my head out a roof hatch, I look at the sign of the last brand to be produced here.

Convex Selfie

The north side of the plant is modern 60s industrial architecture, meaning massive open spaces with no personality. This mirror is the most interesting thing I could find.

As Iron Clyde

From factory to skate park to restaurant. This is in the skate park stage. The buildings to the right are demolished now, and in their place are hockey rinks.

Biker

A taste of Superior culture.

Live Girls 4 to 2

From my archives–the NorShor as an innocent gentleman’s club, called ‘the NorShor Experience’.

Gauges

Below the pressure gauges are rows of little pipe fitting drawers.

Yeast Stairs

A caustic tank in one of the unremodeled brewhouse backrooms.

Fort Liege Sign

A sign facing the city on an exterior wall–a sort of motivational poster.

Milwaukee Road E70 (Ektar 120)

An engine on display outside the Montana Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge, MT. This was a typical electric locomotive used by The Milwaukee Road.

Dominion- Offices

Dominion was acquired by UGG, which designated the elevator ‘M’. Their offices still have safety signage.

Fume Lines

One level below where the cotton was nitrated, the fumes must have been powerful. This floor had several massive ventilation fans in its walls.

Restore It (Toned Medium Format Film)

Shot on a Pentax 67 in monochrome and toned to match the set. For some time the marquee was lit at night to advertise the fact that the city bought it and planned to apply for credits to repair it.

Radio Stereo

Part of a vintage neon sign. I hope it’s been preserved–it reminds me of the sign that hung over my grandfather’s tv sales and repair shop in small town Minnesota.

Institutional Prism

Each room is painted a different hue, so the light reflecting into the hallway carries those colors. The blue padding on the left is for one of the padded rooms…

Gas Pump

Between the gauges for the power plant boilers and the steam pump flywheels.

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