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.
A ship passes the abandoned dock on its way to Duluth. Taconite dust stains the sides of its hull red.
A natural stone floor in Brewery Creek’s upper path has been worn smooth.
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.
The east portal, looking toward Nopeming Junction and away from the US Steel ruins and Duluth’s ore docks.
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.
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…
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.
Would you wait and risk getting flooded out, or intentionally get minor burns?
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
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 at The Windy City from the top of the coal tower. The pond you see is the former ACME Coke coal yard.
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.
Cobbled walkways followed the assembly lines.
About a century later. A view of the main factory building, looking toward the two furnaces.
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.
Check that waterfall!
Observing War City in the midst of an electric storm. This photo is lit almost entirely by lightning.
Looking out across the elevator row from Portland Huron’s roof. Don’t you love the color of the sky?
The surgical suite was flooding.
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.
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.
A panoramic view of the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit River and downtown from the roof of the 1925 warehouse. Ready to move to Detroit?
A bright red light blinks on the end of the abandoned dock to ward off passing boats.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
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.
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 rocket system used several cooling methods, once of which included an evaporation pond, pictured here.
A washout two thirds of the way down the tram gave me a place to relax in the thin air.
Sarah in Miller Creek Drain.
Pillsbury from across the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge from the roof of the Washburn Crosby Elevator (aka Gold Medal Flour).
The sun unzipped the clouds. Mist blew across the harbor.
From bottom to top: The demolished Dock 3, the abandoned Dock 4, and the active BNSF Taconite Dock.
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.
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.
Here you can see the end of the scrapping phase in 2011.
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
A morning breeze pushes the last ice from the lake against Wisconsin Point.
A ruined culvert near Oregon Creek, behind Old Main, the predecessor of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“GREETING FROM BEAUTIFUL GARY–WISH YOU WERE HERE!” My postcard shot.
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.
Chester Creek’s lower sections change, demarking decades of change for Superior Street.
In the distance, a semi truck kicks up fresh rain from the highway. As seen from the top of the steel blast door.
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.
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.
The Barker turning around before it backed into Tac Harbor to unload coal for Minnesota Power.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
Looking toward the Quenching Tower from the coal tower platform.
Roughly below the parking lot for the Rose Garden.
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.
Part of the Pillsbury tunnel that brought water back to the Mississippi River.
There’s a roof problem above the surgical suite.
Near Isabella, MB, frozen flooded fields expand to the horizon. Taken on a Voigtlander 25mm f/2.5 if you were wondering.
The control room floats above the top of the dock atop a spiral staircase.
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.
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!
These pools looked into the cribbing below the concrete.
Old boathouses near the dock.
Instead of a pit in the floor, now there is an oversized chessboard here.
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.
A full harbor on a hot summer evening, just after twilight, as seen from atop the castle walls.
Below the historic National Guard Armory.
Pointing a light at my camera from down Miller Creek Drain. Do you see the scale of it? It’s huge!
Superior Entry’s lights, backlit by the aurora borealis. In the distance, you can see the lights of Two Harbors.
A panorama of the dock buildings, before the left one was demolished.
Giant chunks of cooled slag form an island near Mud Lake.
Death. About two seconds after the explosives were triggered.
There’s concrete under that dirt… under that water… somewhere.
A typical summer storm on Lake Superior.
The ice around the dock, compressed by the waves, was less clear than the open ice.
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.
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.
This ruin was once the Toltec Mine, a producing gold and silver claim that operated into the 1940s.
The chapel (left) and surgical suite (straight on) move in an out of view as fog rolls up from the St. Louis River valley.
Capitol 6 has three annexes. It must have a massive capacity. Note the poor condition of the breakwater.
2016. A section of the third floor that has changed a lot over the years. Compare to 2006 shot.
The American Victory next to M, seen late at night.
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.
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.
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.
The quenching water was reused over and over.
From the highest roof of Ogvilvie’s, Thunder Bay looks like paradise.
Where the bricks jumped and wood followed, water runs amok.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
The underwater superstructure of the dock was visible through these big holes.
90% of Brach’s looks like this. Concrete walls, mushroom pillars, and water over the floor.
Wind blew taconite dust against the walls of these suspended control room, making even the glass appear to rust.
A stern-mounted spotlight and a fleet of former US Army tugs that are still used to break ice and nudge ships into slips.
This building was responsible for storing and drying the barrels. Compare right.
Just a couple guys enjoying an industrial ruin.
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]
Chester Creek takes many such sliding dives where it empties into Lake Superior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Taken from the rooftop looking toward downtown, a hometown, a river town.
Looking out the second-floor lighthouse office window. On this visit, the last ice of the season was slowly drifting into the harbor.
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 approach to the dock is rigidly geometric. I always thought its outline was beautiful against the lake that, by contrast, was always moving.
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.
One of the machines left over in the underground magnetic separation plant.
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.
Chester Creek, where it was forced to dip below the circa-1970s I-35 tunnels.
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.
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.
A custom ladder to cross conveyor belts on the work floor.
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.
Below the factory floor is a network of hallways and tunnels, all flooded with water.
For some time, tugboats were stored next to the elevator.
Looking toward the famous Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge from Lake Superior. Shot on a the legendary Pentax 67.
Portland Huron and downtown Duluth from the end of the Elevator A slip.
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.
Taken before the Ford was towed to Duluth for scrapping.
If you look close you can see a figure on the water tower.
Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power station, as seen through the ship loading control room windows.
The former BESCO building in the last light of day.
A shallow creek traces Illinois Gulch toward the Chain O’ Mines mill. Ball mills are laid out in the sun.
The lights of the active docks keep the retired #6 up all night.
Originally, this part of the dock was reserved for the weather station.
2005. Looking across the Mississippi from a park the night after the first snow.
Reflections of graffiti during spring melt.
Looking north from the east portal of the tunnel… a beautiful place. Wilderness. Mamiya 6/Portra 160
From the summer a bunch of Australians visited Minnesota.
Water at the bottom of the silo was perfectly clear.
The end of the monorail in the nitrating house.
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.
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.
After a little rain, the roof took on the color of the bright pink letters.
The Algosteel navigating Superior Entry.
Looking out of the Brewery Creek Drain outfall at night, after a storm had pushed piles of rocks up onto the shore.
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.
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.
The Algosteel crew strikes a pose while heading through Superior Entry toward Allouez
The gulls wait to eat the next load of spilled grain. Arista 100.
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.
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.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
David Aho pictured.
A great lakes freighter slowly passes SK Wheat Pool 4 with ‘The Sleeping Giant’ in the background. Arista 100.
These Twin Cities kisses
Sound like clicks and hisses.
We all tumbled down and
Drowned in the Mississippi River. -The Hold Steady
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.
Can you hear the ship’s horn through this picture?
A long tunnel stretches toward the Mississippi. Was this the route Model Ts took on their way to waiting barges?
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.
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.
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.
The roof of the King Elevator had two small vents and a terrific view of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Arista 100 in 120.
The upper sections of Brewery Creek have stone floors and brick ceilings. It’s beautiful–for a sewer.
Chester Creek Infall, near Duluth’s old Armory. The creek will not emerge again until it is near the Lakewalk.
Where the drain changes shape from round concrete to arched brick.
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.
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.
Checking out the neighbors. Shot on a the legendary Pentax 67.
One of the underground creeks in Duluth, somewhere under the East Hillside neighborhood.
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.
Two charmers, I’m sure. This area was a coal pit for the nearby power plant.