Mining & Metallurgy

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Mines of the Argo
Central City, Colorado

A Philadelphia doctor builds a 4-mile-long tunnel to drain hundreds of mines of ore and water. A crooked dentist turns Quartz Hill into a crater called The Glory Hole. Here is the stories of some of the mines connected to “The Mighty Argo” before a deadly mining accident closed most of the district down in 1943.

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Osceola Mine
Osceola, MI

“Sunlight scorched what man could not, / Deep where tunnels met. / Though mine they could, / With steel and wood, / And those men that bled.” A poetic homage to an abandoned copper mine.

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Quincy Smelting Works
Hancock, MI

Not like this, not anywhere, not anymore. This is a unique place–an old temple of metallurgy in the Upper Peninsula; “God’s Country,” everyone insisted. This is an abandoned monument to a god of fire, of copper, and for me, of time travel.

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Rogers Mine
Iron River, MI

Miners and their bosses watched helplessly as the mine flooded with water over and over again. When all was said and done, they had probably mined more quicksand than iron. Rogers Mine was started in 1910 but was allowed to flood in 1937, though its shops were used well into the 1950s.

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Snowstorm Gold Dredge
Fairplay, CO

The Colorado Rockies are hiding a mountaintop shipwreck, The Snowstorm. All around us were snow-capped peaks… Bald Hill (11,500 feet), Palmer Peak (12,500 feet) and Pennsylvania Mountain (13,000 feet). We were going to do a […]

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Solvay Coke
Milwaukee, WI

I go step by step through the coke making process, down to the job descriptions, to illustrate the functions of the plant. I talk about the history, the racism, the ad campaigns. All you need to know about Milwaukee-Solvay Coke you can learn right here.

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Sunday Lake Mine
Wakefield, MI

Mines are strange things that never appear as they are, at least not on the surface. They are powerful enough to found cities and feed families when they are young, but are very often left to be forgotten in plain sight when they retire.

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The Eagle Zinc Mine
Gilman, CO

Left hand, grip the left rail. Right hand, grip that other one. Feet, for God’s sake remember how to crabwalk; we have a cliff to descend. Come with me into the tunnels under a Coloradan ghost town to see what was once the world’s largest zinc mine.

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White Pine Mine
White Pine, MI

White Pine Mine was a major copper producer in the U.P. from the 1950s to the 1990s, making it one of the last of its kind. Now, all there is to see is a mothballed smelter, a ruined mill, and a ghost town.