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.
Elevator B, used by a local farmer, stands behind an old farm truck at the edge of town.
Camera: Voigtlander Bessa
Film: Acros 100
The side of the oldest building on the property, the former casket factory.
From the highest roof of Ogvilvie’s, Thunder Bay looks like paradise.
2005. Looking across the Mississippi from a park the night after the first snow.
Taking a midwinter hike in Cramer after a blizzard and ice storm was my idea. Do my friends seem upset to you?
Mamiya GA645 / Kodak Pro 400
A creek has cut through the middle of the mine property, washing away the loose rock and eroding the foundations of the Concentrator. It’s pretty, though! It’s be belief, though I cannot prove it, that some of the water here originates from inside the now-buried Santiago Tunnel, which is no doubt flooded to a great extent.
I was surprised to see the roof was in such great condition. You can tell by the making on the wood that this wall is covered by a snow bank for most of the year.
Power House, 2000s
From the roof of the larger power plant’s Building A, Hastings, MN’s lights burn behind the smokestacks.
Presumably, in a nuclear blast the antenna would be blown flat and pop back up, allowing communication even after a near-direct hit.
A sentinel stands watch over an abandoned Hannah, ND house. Medium Format.
My first view of the tunnel was in the dead of winter. In spite of being in the middle of the forest, it was totally silent. Mamiya GA645 / Kodak Pro 400
One of the many fireproof bridges connecting the factory sections, one way to prevent fires from spreading throughout the plant.
Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power station, as seen through the ship loading control room windows.
Demolition crews got a taste of this 5-story power plant and decided to take a month-long smoke break. Here’s the bite.
Like a grave marker, a single post remembers where Dock 3 stood on the bay.
Quincy Smelter, 2014.
This wide skyway connected two of the inner factory buildings, where parts would have to be transported to keep the operation moving, which is why it is much wider than other bridges in the plant.
A facade that tells the story of demolition and neglect. The sign on the garage door indicates that if one finds themselves there, that they enter the buildings at their own risk. If only property owners in the US took this philosophy!
Storms and waves, focused by the Port of Wisconsin entry have focused the faces to tear-up these boards below.
One of the paper warehouses, with snow blowing across the floors.
The Western Elevator’s old moniker looks over Fort William (the neighborhood). Snow falls over Mount McKay in the background. This elevator is still active… the only active elevator in Fort William proper.
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.
Between blizzards on the hill, I look out over the Chateau. Kodak Portra 400 on Voightlander Bessa.
Delmar #4 is like two elevators in one, in capacity and design.
The front of the school overlooks the town of Birtle, Manitoba. It replaced a circa-1894 building which was a little farther down the hill.
Officers got houses and the honor of living near other officers. They call it Officer’s Row.
Negative twenty looks much warmer in retrospect, wouldn’t you say? Taken through the window of a gantry crane cab.
Harsh rail yard lighting throws shadows of broken windows against the line of boilers.
Mill Hell before the University of Minnesota began developing the area. Now many of the buildings are gone, there are new roads and even bike paths.
One of the smallest of the many elevators in Thunder Bay, this little elevator held corn for the glucose and starch lines.
An elevator is reflected in the flooded footprint of Spencer & Kellogg. These trains are in storage for the winter.
Demolition following the arson of the Administration Building.
Wagons and horses were kept in the building on the left, separate from the rest of the complex in case of fire. In the distance is the boiler house, separate for the same reason.
Wintertime is quiet, except for the planes overhead.
Before it was demolished, there was one good staircase the led to the middle of the dock. Trees grew from it.
An old sign in front of the elevators that used to constitute Saskatchewan Wheat Pool #4. Kodak Pro 100.
The ice around the dock, compressed by the waves, was less clear than the open ice.
Shadows of the timberwork and cribbing are cast across cracked lake ice. My footprints follow cat tracks.
Above Treasure Mountain Mine is the capped shaft of the defunct San Juan Queen Mine. This is taken near that location, looking down the road that connects the mines to Animas Forks.
The now-demolished Sanatorium, for patients of the asylum that contracted the disease.
Science Alert. When the sun strikes an object, that object absorbs some of the infared light in the form of heat. The heat absorbed by the old Soo dock absorbed and radiated that energy to melt off the snow from the ice around it, making it very reflective.
Train-mounted snowplows pushed the snow through the fence and against the old offices.
As wind and currents moved the ice around between the ore docks, the sounds of crunching echoed through the otherwise quiet bar.
A Gordini, built by Renault between 1964 and 1970. You can also see some of the model farm buildings.
The underside of the ore dock in winter. Snow drifts across the dock from the frozen lake.
The snowflake (?) patterns were hand-laid throughout the hospital. It is possible some or all of these tiles were laid by patients, as it is on record that they were used for simple tasks in the name of occupational therapy.
Exploring Dock 4 was a very different experience, since it was almost all metal.
This is what the complex looks like today to the bare eye. Dull, monochrome, quiet.
This building had the rusty remains of a few mattresses, likely used in the 1940s when this site was last occupied.
The underground portions of the engine shop were mostly filled in.
Shortly after the former delivery wagon shed was arsoned in 2005. A turning point in the story of Hamms’ abandonment.
A portrait of the second school of McConnell, built in 1937.
Originally a bagging warehouse for Peavey, later this building was leased as storage and warehouse space. It was finally demolished around 2010.
It was a strange choice, although I appreciate it, for the firm reusing the shops to brick up the doorways while leaving the doors.
Near Isabella, MB, frozen flooded fields expand to the horizon. Taken on a Voigtlander 25mm f/2.5 if you were wondering.
The fresh snow makes the whole complex look a lot cleaner than it actually is.
While the stokers are gone, the pipes bringing pulverized coal down were left.
The Blacksmith Shop (right) was connected to the Bunk House (left) via this narrow walkway. This is likely due to the fire risk in each building. The left building had a cooking stove and furnace for heat and the right building had a small industrial furnace to repair mining equipment. A little walkway would mean that a fire on one side would be easier to fight from the other.
The backside of Inglis’ elevator row, a Canadian National Heritage site, where 5 elevators still stand over CPR tracks.
Admin, 2005. This is the only good picture I took of the Administration Tower before a lightning strke ignited its roof. Now a metal cap keeps the water out of the most iconic building at the Kirkbride.
Fake Fact: The term ‘stovetop hat’ was coined by Island Station’s architect while trying to explain why he wanted to put the steel chimney on the station. ‘Live Here’ was part of the advertising when the building was host to artist lofts. They weren’t kidding.
Electric Steel’s bins reflect the sunset.
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.
All that’s left of the lost annex near Saskatchewan Wheat Pool #4 and #5. Arista 100.
The gear seems to have fallen the height of the power station and shattered. I wonder what it sounded like…
“The fresh snow mixed indistinguishably from the ashes of the half-demolished power plant.”
The purpose of the concentrator was to separate the gold and silver-rich ore from the waste rock. You can tell from the design that the process relies heavily on gravity.
The train loading tower (left), and elevators. Check out that giant flagpole/lightning rod.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
Steel mine hoists, near the place they worked, wait for scrap prices to justify their final removal from Osceola, Michigan.
A building that burned near the Kam seems to have been a warehouse or stockhouse.
Standing on the ruins of the former sister dock, looking back at the soon-to-be-demolished family member. The pilings I stood on for the shot were those of the Chicago and North Western RR #3 which was dismantled in 1960 and used to be 2,040-feet long.
These rails used to connect to those inside the Santiago Tunnel. Now they dangle above tailings.
My favorite shot from the trip. Later in its life, the plant was converted to burn its own byproducts, but it seems this was designed as a coal hopper.
Snow flies across the frame as the sunken cribbing freezes bellow the concrete.
A stray cat at hunts mice along the elevator row at Inglis, MB. Film: Fuji FP100C.
A morning breeze pushes the last ice from the lake against Wisconsin Point.
Taken from atop a grain train at the end of Cargill B-2, looking toward Lake Superior “I”, now part of the sample complex. This area used to have another slip, but Cargill filled it on when it built the elevator on the right.
Winter skies over Allouez Bay. From a distance, it looks almost fragile.
Looking through the hole where a glass pane once was at the Columbus Mine ruins, just south of Animas Forks. It was quiet when I took the picture, but for the gurgle of the nearby Animas River.
The conveyor belt prevented cranes from accessing the left side of the dock, so cranes were mounted to the gantry crane to maintain the ore chutes on the side.
Without a roof, the bricks were being washed away in the later years of the roundhouse.
Death. About two seconds after the explosives were triggered.
One of the principal businesses in McConnell was a farm implement and lumber store. This is too new to have been bought there, but I like that it’s still on the edge of town. It’s more comfortable than the emptiness beyond, that used to be a little prairie town.
As a storm moves across Lake Superior toward Duluth, an ore freighter anchors behind the Superior light station.
These wide spools sit atop the abandoned tracks that lead to the train shed, which was later repurposed into a truck shed.
This was my first view of Harris Machinery’s property… it was strange to find what looked like a ghost town five minutes from downtown Minneapolis!
2008. Harris Machinery as seen from the roof of ADM-Delmar Elevator #4.
“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 entrance to the area where staff could sleep.
One of my favorite night views of Fort Snelling’s so-called Upper Post, taken between snowstorms.
The side of the maintenance shops, still home to several disassembled electric carts.
William Duncan built this house for his family in 1879. It has become one of the most popular structures in the ghost town of Animas Forks.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
We people are so small.
In the background you can see the crane, which would in the weeks to follow bring all you see here to the ground.
Rows of offices under the power plant, which was in the middle of being demolished during my adventure. Despite the snow, this was meant as an interior.
Looking out of the top of the grain tower at Duluth.
A diesel crane and conveyor belt tripper are the major pieces of equipment that dominate the dock.
Preparing to drive up the narrow road into Picayune Gulch, which was barely wide enough for my SUV.
The last of four radar domes on the base.
This gives you a sense for what it looks like to stand on the roof of the main production building at sunset.
A train idles beside the Calumet offices. Pentax 67 Medium Format
Dead cars were parked permanently near the model farm. Perhaps it had an automotive program. After all, before they were ‘Indian Residential Schools’ they were ‘Indian Industrial Schools’.
A little ice and snow made work at Taconite Harbor much more dangerous.
It looks like this doorway was bricked up while the building behind it was still being used as a rail shop.
I found out some of my friends were going to be married while I was on top of Gold Medal one evening while it was snowing.
The city constructed a wall in the early 2000s to discourage visitors. Note the staircase is cut off, too.
At Treasure Mountain mine. This collapsed building was likely the 1937 Compressor House, which pushed compressed air and water into the Sanitago Tunnel in the time it was producing.
Looking out of one of the biggest houses in Animas Forks toward the rest of the residential district. It is hard to imagine the life the people here lived, for those that stayed the winter.
The layout and design of the buildings reminded me strongly of a brewery or distillery. To the right you can see some of the retrofits by the first lumber company to buy the buildings, in the 1970s.
Watch your head, say the colors. This side of the plant is apparently still standing and is owned by the city.
The ice reflects the blue sky on the rust. The sunset blasts through the concrete pillars holding it all up.
Looking at the side of the Superior Elevator from the tracks that feed the Western. Note the old flagpole.
Stained windows and sheet metal catch the sunset from across the Ohio River.
Although most of the buildings were open and empty, a few carried signs.
Taken on a short trip where the whole floor of the roundhouse and engine shop was covered in fresh snow–thanks to the holes in the roof and open windows.
An abandoned gatehouse bearing the name of the former factory.
Looking from one workhouse at another, with the other residents of Mill Hell falling into place as the distance grows. Across the rail yard you can see Froedert Malt elevator and Calumet.
The light masts are there, but it looks like the cables that stretched across the dock with the actual lights have fallen down.
When I revisited the mine in 2013, the hoists were scrapped and sitting by the road.