This ruin was once the Toltec Mine, a producing gold and silver claim that operated into the 1940s.
Before Portland-Huron Cement’s Duluth Plant was (mostly) demolished and (partly) turned into a hotel, the top of its silos gave a cinematic view of elevator row.
The sun unzipped the clouds. Mist blew across the harbor.
Cobbled walkways followed the assembly lines.
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.
The ice around the dock, compressed by the waves, was less clear than the open ice.
Can you hear the ship’s horn through this picture?
The upper sections of Brewery Creek have stone floors and brick ceilings. It’s beautiful–for a sewer.
Chester Creek takes many such sliding dives where it empties into Lake Superior.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
The gulls wait to eat the next load of spilled grain. Arista 100.
From bottom to top: The demolished Dock 3, the abandoned Dock 4, and the active BNSF Taconite Dock.
Reflections of graffiti during spring melt.
“GREETING FROM BEAUTIFUL GARY–WISH YOU WERE HERE!” My postcard shot.
Sarah in Miller Creek Drain.
About a century later. A view of the main factory building, looking toward the two furnaces.
I’ve been in a lot of different mines. Some on tours, some not. If you pass through Howardsville, Colorado without going on the Old Hundred Mine Tour, you’re missing out. This is what Santiago Tunnel looked like in the 1940s when it was near the end of its life.
Checking out the neighbors. Shot on a the legendary Pentax 67.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
There’s concrete under that dirt… under that water… somewhere.
Before the clouds broke, I snapped this profile of the dumping control room and its spiral staircase. These are the colors that I dream in.
Looking out of the Brewery Creek Drain outfall at night, after a storm had pushed piles of rocks up onto the shore.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
A bright red light blinks on the end of the abandoned dock to ward off passing boats.
Looking at The Windy City from the top of the coal tower. The pond you see is the former ACME Coke coal yard.
From the door where mine carts were dumped into the Concentrator, the erosion around the former Santiago Tunnel on Treasure Mountain is obvious. The rails barely connect to the ground anymore.
The left tunnel goes to the opposite side of the car elevator seen on the right. There was a time when Fords were shipped by barge on the Mississippi. This freight elevator brought them from the assembly floor to river level. A separate elevator was for moving men and silica up and down.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
Looking toward Duluth from the top of a Dock 1 light tower. NP Dock 1 is on the left… an earlier competitor to Allouez. The stars reflect on Lake Superior.
If you look carefully along the side of the slip alongside this image of Cargill B-2, you will see the remains of the crane stops when this was a Hannah coal dock.
2016. A section of the third floor that has changed a lot over the years. Compare to 2006 shot.
A strange sight: Part of the drain here seems to have had a skylight of glass, which has since been filled over. However, the collapsing ceiling began to create natural skylights of its own.
The mill was powered, in part, by water flowing through turbines under it. After the flow worked the industrial heart of the flour mill, it was exit to the Mississippi here.
Where the drain changes shape from round concrete to arched brick.
Near Isabella, MB, frozen flooded fields expand to the horizon. Taken on a Voigtlander 25mm f/2.5 if you were wondering.
This building was responsible for storing and drying the barrels. Compare right.
2005. Looking across the Mississippi from a park the night after the first snow.
The Algosteel crew strikes a pose while heading through Superior Entry toward Allouez
A morning breeze pushes the last ice from the lake against Wisconsin Point.
It’s almost hard to tell whether the colors come from oil in the water or the colorful glass lit up by the Michigan sunset.
These corner pilings served as bumpers… a little assurance against wind, ice, and new captains.
Taken from the arm of the pocket loader–note the tree growing out of the conveyor belt. Often where you see old piles of taconite, trees are springing up. The byproducts of the pelletization process break down and make a really fertile mix, especially with all the iron content!
Looking from abandoned to active. The end of Dock 6 often has a crane and some shacks on it, as the chutes aren’t used anymore. Instead, conveyors are installed on the land-side of the dock that fill docked vessels, making the end of the dock little more than a breakwater and a place to park repair and recovery equipment.
Looking out the second-floor lighthouse office window. On this visit, the last ice of the season was slowly drifting into the harbor.
Chester Creek Infall, near Duluth’s old Armory. The creek will not emerge again until it is near the Lakewalk.
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.
There’s a roof problem above the surgical suite.
King Elevator sits in the corner of a more recently-defunct lumber mill: Great Western Timber. Perhaps in the future I will write the history of it. Arista 100 in 120.
Algae grows where water flows/From the sawtooth roof/To the mines below/The sun climbs high/But is in no one’s eyes/A wall alone crumbles/It was no suprise
These pools looked into the cribbing below the concrete.
One of the clusters of elevators. Doors would open on both sides so that vehicles could be moved through them if necessary. There is only one set of stairs in the whole building.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
After a short rainfall douses the mill in downtown Fergus Falls, the river next to the brick walls swells and the sounds of water overtakes the echos of the nearby bars. Reflections are on the foundation of the former distribution and rail building.
A quick shot with a Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 (V1-M Mount). Possibly my favorite lens. Birds love these postindustrial ruins, and they hated me exploring and photographing them.
One of the underground creeks in Duluth, somewhere under the East Hillside neighborhood.
Taken before the Ford was towed to Duluth for scrapping.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
The former BESCO building in the last light of day.
The east portal, looking toward Nopeming Junction and away from the US Steel ruins and Duluth’s ore docks.
Pillsbury from across the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge from the roof of the Washburn Crosby Elevator (aka Gold Medal Flour).
The lights of the active docks keep the retired #6 up all night.
A ruined culvert near Oregon Creek, behind Old Main, the predecessor of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
Roughly below the parking lot for the Rose Garden.
Since the foundry went cold, I decided to turn down my color temperature… In the background, a chart showing graphite dispersion is one of the few artifacts left on the foundry floor.
Pointing a light at my camera from down Miller Creek Drain. Do you see the scale of it? It’s huge!
A long tunnel stretches toward the Mississippi. Was this the route Model Ts took on their way to waiting barges?
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.
After a little rain, the roof took on the color of the bright pink letters.
The quenching water was reused over and over.
Looking north from the east portal of the tunnel… a beautiful place. Wilderness. Mamiya 6/Portra 160
The orange bars were secured to the tunnel walls to support electric lines for the mine carts. Lower parts of the sand mines were allowed to flood. The water was perfectly still, and made for a mud so thick it could suck off your boots.
A stern-mounted spotlight and a fleet of former US Army tugs that are still used to break ice and nudge ships into slips.
From the highest roof of Ogvilvie’s, Thunder Bay looks like paradise.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
A shallow creek traces Illinois Gulch toward the Chain O’ Mines mill. Ball mills are laid out in the sun.
On top of the light hoop, 160-feet up, a ship comes into port, ready to load-up. If you look really close, you can see my shadow cast on the dock below, courtesy of the full moon.
Here you can see the end of the scrapping phase in 2011.
Death. About two seconds after the explosives were triggered.
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.
A 24-hour clock that reeks of the 1970s. A ladder stenciled “LTV”–the failed steel company that built this dock. There is more, if you look closer.
Where the bricks jumped and wood followed, water runs amok.
This is an elevator to move mine car loads of sand to the surface for cleaning and eventually glass production. Below is a flooded equipment vault. In front and behind is a loop through the larger tunnels in the mine. The horizontal braces supported electric cables for the mine carts.
The control room floats above the top of the dock atop a spiral staircase.
Chester Creek’s lower sections change, demarking decades of change for Superior Street.
Capitol 6 has three annexes. It must have a massive capacity. Note the poor condition of the breakwater.
Observing War City in the midst of an electric storm. This photo is lit almost entirely by lightning.
The underwater superstructure of the dock was visible through these big holes.
Superior Entry’s lights, backlit by the aurora borealis. In the distance, you can see the lights of Two Harbors.
The EPA has been doing work on and off over the past few years, digging up the foundations of the demolished steel mill to clean up the site.
Giant chunks of cooled slag form an island near Mud Lake.
From the summer a bunch of Australians visited Minnesota.
This building stood on stilts until it was demolished. The top floor handled radio traffic to boats and trains. The bottom floor had locker rooms, records, and a lunchroom.
Near Howardsville, Colorado, the Animas River gets quite wide. This is near the Little Nation Mill, which is worth a stop if you’re traveling north from SIlverton. It’s also near the former Gold King Mine, which “blew” in 2015 and flooded the Animas River with toxic mine water.
Portland Huron and downtown Duluth from the end of the Elevator A slip.
A custom ladder to cross conveyor belts on the work floor.
The Beeghley was launched in 1958… you can see it unloading limestone here with its retrofitted self-unloader. Update: This ship has been renamed the ‘James L. Oberstar’ after the Minnesota Senator. [Read more on Boardnerd.com here: http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/oberstar.htm]
A great lakes freighter slowly passes SK Wheat Pool 4 with ‘The Sleeping Giant’ in the background. Arista 100.
Instead of a pit in the floor, now there is an oversized chessboard here.
When the lake levels were especially low, the pilings of Dock 3 that are usually underwater were clearly visible between Dock 2 and Dock 4.
From the 1909 addition, it’s obvious how much water it takes to carry a single wall to, into and through the cracks between the floor tiles: exactly one roof’s worth.
One of two control towers that reached over the lake. The control panel here was used to move the conveyors over the ship’s hold doors, adjust flow of the taconite, and so on.
Chester Creek, where it was forced to dip below the circa-1970s I-35 tunnels.
Two charmers, I’m sure. This area was a coal pit for the nearby power plant.
The walkway to the end of the dock is elevated, so one walks above the trees and bushes growing in the rotting taconite pellets that have collected over the years.
A porcelain basin in the locker room is detached, but shows excellent patina. I hope when the machine shop is repurposed that this can be saved.
A panoramic view of the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit River and downtown from the roof of the 1925 warehouse. Ready to move to Detroit?
If you look close you can see a figure on the water tower.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
The end of the monorail in the nitrating house.
A typical summer storm on Lake Superior.
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.
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.
These Twin Cities kisses
Sound like clicks and hisses.
We all tumbled down and
Drowned in the Mississippi River. -The Hold Steady
Below the historic National Guard Armory.
Water at the bottom of the silo was perfectly clear.
A look upriver at the crane of the Port of Detroit, quiet for the night, and the Ambassador Bridge, always humming with Canadian traffic. Downtown Detroit is beautiful, if nobody told you.
The end of the peninsula where Consolidated D was built, aka General Mills A, used to hold a Northern Pacific freight depot. These are part of the ruins of it.
The Barker turning around before it backed into Tac Harbor to unload coal for Minnesota Power.
A panorama of the dock buildings, before the left one was demolished.
Designed by Taylor himself, the spring house was the site of many parties in its day. You can imagine sipping fresh-tapped whiskey here with your Sunday clothes with soft music and the sounds of the river mixing in the background. Note the key-hole-shaped spring hole.
Miller Creek, in one of the wider sections that features a trout (as in the fish) canal in the middle of the drain. Even though it is underground, the fish are able to visit their breeding ponds upstream by swimming through the specially designed tunnel.
David Aho pictured.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
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.
For some time, tugboats were stored next to the elevator.
The Algosteel navigating Superior Entry.
Peering at Stelco’s abandoned steel rod rolling mill, not demolished. The rectangular on the right in between is the boiler house that heated Stelco.
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.
Old boathouses near the dock.
The approach to the dock is rigidly geometric. I always thought its outline was beautiful against the lake that, by contrast, was always moving.
The roof of the King Elevator had two small vents and a terrific view of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Arista 100 in 120.
Short-stack remains of mounts for rod and ball mills, if I was to bet. The concentrator separated junk rock (tails) from the copper and silver ore, to such a point it could be smelted.
90% of Brach’s looks like this. Concrete walls, mushroom pillars, and water over the floor.
A natural stone floor in Brewery Creek’s upper path has been worn smooth.
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.
Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power station, as seen through the ship loading control room windows.
A full harbor on a hot summer evening, just after twilight, as seen from atop the castle walls.
Would you wait and risk getting flooded out, or intentionally get minor burns?
We can lie like sinners
Breathe the air like children
And you could lead and I could follow
All those times are gone
“Duluth” by Trampled by Turtles
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 rocket system used several cooling methods, once of which included an evaporation pond, pictured here.
Looking toward the famous Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge from Lake Superior. Shot on a the legendary Pentax 67.
This was taken before the top of the docks really started to rot-out; now this stretch past the crane is distinctly unsafe to cross. Still, you can’t beat the view of Dock #2 winding into the distance, where the approach is chopped-off before the yard used to extend.
The chapel (left) and surgical suite (straight on) move in an out of view as fog rolls up from the St. Louis River valley.
These concrete blocks were formed to be solid mounts for machinery. All the metal was scrapped in the late 1990s, leaving these modern ruins. Seagulls love them.
The cold air collided with the sun-warmed water on the floor, filling the ground floor of the Keg House with thick fog…
Looking toward the Quenching Tower from the coal tower platform.
Just a couple guys enjoying an industrial ruin.
Below the factory floor is a network of hallways and tunnels, all flooded with water.
In the distance, a semi truck kicks up fresh rain from the highway. As seen from the top of the steel blast door.
Looking out across the elevator row from Portland Huron’s roof. Don’t you love the color of the sky?
Check that waterfall!
Taken from the rooftop looking toward downtown, a hometown, a river town.
The surgical suite was flooding.
This electric Wellman crane was added to extract coal from ships for the power plant that Erie built beside their dock. Now, with the advent of self-unloading boats, it’s been replaced by a funnel and conveyor belt.
A dedicated 13-acre rail yard operated by Canadian Pacific. As of 2016, it’s still there, and considered a factor in the redevelopment of the former plant site.
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.