Osceola Mine
Osceola, MI

Number 13 is what you see,
Pinned on red earth,
Without a tree.
The lode it struck,
Before the flood,
Before the union decree.

Sunlight scorched what man could not,
Deep where tunnels met.
Though mine they could,
With steel and wood,
And those men that bled.

Under the flag “Calumet,”
Counted-off millions of tons,
While underfoot minds did fret:
“A strike will be struck,”
But labor lacked luck:
Their jobs they did not get back.

Now, on the side of the road,
A rusted mine frame stands.
That few choose to behold,
Who knows how many died,
Mother Nature cannot confide,
Who to men Pearly Gates she showed.

Sunlight scorched what man could not,
Deep where tunnels met.
Though mine they could,
With steel and wood,
And those men that bled.

Shaft #13 in Osceola, Michigan was mined from the early 1900s through 1931, when it was allowed to flood. In the 1950s the tunnels were pumped dry and used until a 1968 labor strike closed the shaft permanently. These photos were taken before a mid-2000s gutting of the hoist house. Little remains today but the shells of two of the buildings and the steel head frame beside the highway.

The mark of a long producing mine is these racks of thousands of core samples, stored next to the capped mine shaft.
The mark of a long producing mine is these racks of thousands of core samples, stored next to the capped mine shaft.
I love the texture of the rust through the decaying yellow paint.
I love the texture of the rust through the decaying yellow paint.
Taken from under the headframe.
Taken from under the headframe.
There isn't an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
There isn’t an unbroken window in the entire historic complex as of 2013.
Wind-battered catwalk lights between the shaft house and headframe/rockhouse building.
Wind-battered catwalk lights between the shaft house and headframe/rockhouse building.
This is a great example of a combination rock house; the silos below used to fill trains with ore dropped from mine cars pulled to the top of the structure.
This is a great example of a combination rock house; the silos below used to fill trains with ore dropped from mine cars pulled to the top of the structure.
Peering through the glass in the Hoist Operator's cab, stained with graffiti. The cable and reels can be seen through the glass... these are now gone.
Peering through the glass in the Hoist Operator’s cab, stained with graffiti. The cable and reels can be seen through the glass… these are now gone.
When I revisited the mine in 2013, the hoists were scrapped and sitting by the road.
When I revisited the mine in 2013, the hoists were scrapped and sitting by the road.
Levers and indicators to control and track the path of mine cars moving up and down the mine shaft. Note the mine depth indicators would trace paper... this is because the steel cables stretch out over time, so the line length changes with the years.
Levers and indicators to control and track the path of mine cars moving up and down the mine shaft. Note the mine depth indicators would trace paper… this is because the steel cables stretch out over time, so the line length changes with the years.
Timbers overlap where mine cars plunged, a strange wooden fence traced the center of the beams.
Timbers overlap where mine cars plunged, a strange wooden fence traced the center of the beams.
The steam-powered hoist that pulled ore and dropped men from the mine. Note the hydraulic-operated brake on top with its massive brake pad. Now scrapped.
The steam-powered hoist that pulled ore and dropped men from the mine. Note the hydraulic-operated brake on top with its massive brake pad. Now scrapped.
Steel mine hoists, near the place they worked, wait for scrap prices to justify their final removal from Osceola, Michigan.
Steel mine hoists, near the place they worked, wait for scrap prices to justify their final removal from Osceola, Michigan.
Looking up the rock house.
Looking up the rock house.
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 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.

References »

  • (1902). The michigan miner. (Vol. 5-6). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=-JXmAAAAMAAJ
  • (1915). Michigan's mineral industries. (p. 136). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=PrHhAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA136
  • (1955). The mining year book. (p. 81). W.R. Skinner and Financial Times. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=D1cQAAAAIAAJ
  • McGuinness, C. (2005). Michigan genealogy: sources & resources. (2 ed.). Genealogical Publishing Co. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=BJEI-NtailsC
  • Molloy, L. (2000). Copper county road trips. Hubbell: Great Lakes Geoscience.