It operated for more than a century in various forms, but there’s something timeless about the giant headframe standing silent in a field.
Two things happened around Marquette, Michigan when the mining started: Native Americans were pushed off their land and miners got killed at work. Both of these factors filled this circa-1914 orphanage.
Built in 1911 and abandoned in 1968, this was the last refuge for the people of the Keweenaw that could no longer support themselves. Today it is in ruins.
“It’s just across the parking lot,” the kids might say, “Let’s GO!” Into the dark/into the damp/into old Mather Mine.
“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.
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.
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.
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.