The Calumet Children’s March and the Keweenaw Miners Strike

Children’s Parade, Calumet Copper Miners Strike — RPPC by Calumet New Studio, Calumet, Michigan, photo by Wystan

Here’s a throw back Monday for you – a photo from July 23, 1913 of children marching in Calumet during the tumultuous miners’ strikes of 1913. It’s an interesting case study for our modern world given that the driver was the same driver that’s beginning to impact our labor market – automation. The excellent article Labor unions, strikes and violence in the Keweenaw: The Copper Miner Strike of 1913 – this is seriously great work by Frank Zawada’s descendent(s) – the says that there  had been strikes in the Keweenaw in 1872, 1874, 1890 and 1893, but they hadn’t turned deadly. And then:

Around 1910, the mining companies sought to cut back the expenses of mining, and they started to consider lighter machinery such as the J. George Leyner rock drills. Leyners drills were 154-pounds heavy, compared to the 293-pound drills then in use at the mines. Not only that, but the smaller drills could drill just as much as the larger drills but with only one person to man it, instead of two.

The mining companies tried these drills out with the miners, and it was pretty unanimous; the miners didn’t like the new drills. First of all, the men complained that the drills were still too heavy for one man to carry, set up and operate. Secondly, losing a drilling partner opened up safety concerns – who would watch out for the guy alone on the drill if something should happen to him in the loud, darkened mine? Third, but related to number two, was worker concern of being displaced to a lower-paying job or of losing one’s job altogether when the one-man drills became the standard.

Discontent brewed amongst the workers in the mines, and some miners refused to use the drills. Some got into fights with the management about the drills. And some miners walked off the job or were told to leave for disobeying the new rules. Before things could get too crazy, winter set in and so the miners calmed the labor unrest. By early 1913, tensions were running at maximum capacity between workers and the mining companies on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Read on for more about this strike that turned into one of Michigan’s most deadly labor struggles, including the Italian Hall Massacre of Christmas 1913 in which dozens and dozens of of these children lost their lives.

View the photo background big and see more in Wystan’s slideshow.

Marquette Lower Harbor Ore Dock

Marquette Lower Harbor Ore Dock

Lower Harbor Ore Dock, photo by Rudy Malmquist

Travel Marquette shares the story of the Iron Ore Dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor is also known as the Presque Isle Dock.

The dock was built in 1911 and is still commercially active. Each year approximately 9.5 to 10 million tons of ore are shipped from this dock. The dock is owned and operated by the Cliffs Natural Resources. This steel-framed dock is 1,250 feet long and 60 feet wide, with the top deck sitting 75 feet above the water level. It contains 200 pockets, each of which has a capacity of 250 tons of ore, for a total storage capacity of 50,000 tons. Supporting the dock is a foundation of 10,000 wooden piles enclosed by a 12-inch thick timber sheet plank wall filled with sand.

After being mined the ore is crushed and the iron separated out with either a chemical or magnetic process. The iron is combined with a binding agent (a glorified cornstarch) and rolled into small balls roughly an inch in diameter. The balls are fed through a kiln and fired by temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees F. The result is Taconite Pellets which are loaded on the ore boats and shipped. Most of the pellets shipped from the Presque Isle dock go to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario the largest integrated steel mill. These pellets, which are roughly 70% iron, will be combined with coke and limestone at the mill to make steel.

The ore comes to the dock via railcars and is dumped into steel “pockets” or bins beneath the tracks. To load the boat, the chute is lowered to the open cargo hatch and a door at the bottom of the pocket opens, allowing the pellets to run into the boat shown in the picture. Loading time is variable, depending on the size of the boat and how prepared the dock is to load. Four hours is typical. Loading is the responsibility of the First Mate. It is important to load the ore in a proper sequence to avoid over-stressing the boat unevenly. Each chute (or drop of ore) is about 20 tons.

View Rudy’s photo big as the sky and see more in his slideshow.

More Marquette and more aerial photography on Michigan in Pictures.

“A” Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum

A Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum, Ishpeming, Mi

“A” Shaft at Cliff Shaft Mine Museum, Ishpeming, Mi., photo by Thom Skelding

The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum page at Pure Michigan says that the Ishpeming museum is open June – September Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm:

Walk back in history to see local historical artifacts representing the local community during the great mining era. View historical displays of miners and mines past and present, headgear & other safety equipment available to miners of yesteryear, and displays on blasting and diamond drilling equipment. Stop in the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club’s room and view over 500 minerals from the local area, the Upper Peninsula, Midwest and the world.

Take a guided tour of the tunnels that the miners walked to the base of the C-Shaft and listen to the history of mining from those who worked the mines. Follow up the stairs past old underground iron ore cars with a stop at the blacksmith shop. Go outside to view towers 97’ to 174’ high which were used to lower miners 1250’ into the bowels of the earth. Stand beside a 170-ton Iron Ore Truck with tires 12 feet high.

Don’t forget your camera so you can have a memento of your visit standing inside the 30 ton shovel bucket in front of the Dry building or in front of the 170-ton Iron Ore truck. End your tour in the gift shop to pick up memorabilia of your visit. The museum open with a nominal admission.

Sounds pretty cool to me! Follow the museum on Facebook for the latest (and some old photos).

View Thom’s photo background big and see more in his slideshow.

Lots more Michigan museums and more mining on Michigan in Pictures.

The Houghton Blitz: Lighting the Quincy Mine

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2014-houghton-blitz-2978, photo by Christopher Schmidt

“Our children were born here and now we have five grandchildren to celebrate also. We have proud geological roots here. We think the shaft should be bright on our birthdays, and this would be a good way to support geoheritage and the QMHA. We hope other local families will consider doing this.”
~Bill and Nanno Rose

Apparently, you can make a donation and have the Quincy Mine Shaft lit up in honor of a loved one. Click the link for details!

The photo above shows the Quincy Mine Hoist, part of the Quincy Mine complex, an extensive set of copper mines near Hancock. The mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company . The Quincy Mine was known as “Old Reliable,” paying a dividend to investors every year from 1868 through 1920 and operated between 1846 and 1945. The Quincy Mine page on Wikipedia says (in part):

The Quincy Mine was founded in 1846 by the merger of the Northwest Mining Company and the Portage Mining Company. Due to poor communication between government offices, these two speculative mining companies had purchased the same tracts of land during the mining rush of the early 1840s. The directors met and decided to merge, with significant investment coming from Massachusetts (the town of Quincy, Massachusetts lent the mine its name). While many other copper mines were founded at the same time, the Quincy Mine became the most successful of the 1840s-era mines, and was the country’s leading copper-producing mine from 1863 (when it exceeded the production of the Minesota Mine) through 1867 (after which it was exceeded by the Calumet and Hecla).

The mine was the first Michigan copper mine to switch from fissure mining to amygdaloid mining, when the recently discovered Pewabic amygdaloid lode was found to cross Quincy property in 1856. High-grade fissure veins contained large, pure masses of copper, but the masses could take days or even months to extract, at high cost. Amygdaloid mining consisted of extracting lower-grade strataform orebodies in the “amygdaloid zones,” the upper portions of basalt lava flows. Rock bearing small pockets of copper could be blasted out immediately and processed elsewhere at much lower cost. Amygdaloid mining proved much more productive than fissure mining, and the size and richness of the Pewabic lode in particular allowed the Quincy to produce profits for 53 consecutive years. The Quincy company expanded laterally along the lode by buying out adjacent properties. The company bought the Pewabic mine in 1891, the Mesnard and the Pontiac in 1897, and the Franklin mine in 1908. This helped the mine survive longer than almost all other Keweenaw copper mining companies, except the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company and the Copper Range Company.

To attract a better class of worker, the Quincy Mining Company built and maintained housing for the workers. Over the course of operations, the types of housing ranged from simple tents in the early days, to complete three story houses shortly before the mine’s shutdown. The executives on the east coast wanted to build more elaborate and fancy homes with amenities such as electricity and running water. However, the on-site managers didn’t think it was necessary for the miners to have such high-class dwellings. But the east coast executives realized that if they offered nicer homes to the workers, the miners were more likely to stay, raise families, and be less likely to leave the area or transfer to another mining company. This strategy proved effective and helped the Quincy Mining Company retain its status as one of the premier mining companies in the region.

View Chris’s photo background bigatacular and see more in his Keweenaw Lightning slideshow.

More about the Quincy Mine on Michigan in Pictures including the second picture posted!

Land of the Lost: Central Mine

land of the lost

land of the lost, photo by Marty Hogan

The Keweenaw Historical Society page on Central Mine and Village explains:

One of the most noteworthy historical sites in Keweenaw County is Central, or Central Mine, a village that once was the home for over 1,200 people, and the site of one Keweenaw’s most successful mines. The mine, opened in 1854, produced nearly 52 million pounds of copper by the time it closed in 1898.

Several miners’ homes and buildings still stand on the site. In 1996, the Keweenaw County Historical Society acquired 38 acres of the old Central site. Some of the residences are being restored, and a Visitors Center provides interpretive exhibits not only about the mine but also about the miners’ families, homes, schools and churches.

Click through for maps, photos and more information about Central and other sites.

Marty took this photo in Engine House No.2 at the Central Mining Company in Central, Michigan. He says that from 1875-1898, it housed the Steam Hoist for Shaft No.2. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in his Central, Michigan slideshow.

There’s a whole lot more from Marty and his travels to some of Michigan’s coolest places that once were on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Quincy Dredge No. 2 is actually C&H Dredge No. 1

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signature, photo by Marty Hogan

The Copper Country Explorer has an excellent feature on The Mining of Torch Lake begins:

Early stamp methodology was a very simple and archaic one – nothing more than a simple process of smashing rock down into small pieces and sorting out the copper. Everything that remained would then be dumped into tailing ponds as waste. In the Copper Country the largest of these tailing ponds was Torch Lake, where no less than five mines dumped millions of tons of waste rock into its depths. Unfortunately, these waste tailings often contained a great deal of copper which the jigs and wash tables of the mills failed to remove. Copper that ended up in Torch Lake.

As copper prices dropped and milling technology improved, mine companies began to take a second look at these copper bearing deposits in Torch Lake. It was now possible – and economically advantageous – for mines to retrieve those tailings and remove the copper that they still contained. The process was known as reclamation, and was first undertaken in earnest by C&H around 1920. Towards that end C&H built itself a dredge that could suck up those sands from the lake bottom and send them out to the reclamation plant on shore. This first dredge – known as C&H Dredge No. 1 – would be responsible for retrieving over 48 million tons of C&H sands in its lifetime, yielding over 423 million pounds of copper for the company.

The Quincy Mine got into the reclamation game several decades later – in 1943 – after failing to make a profit on its underground operation. In 1953 the C&H Dredge No. 1 was bought by Quincy to supplement its own dredge. It turned out to be exceptional foresight, as Quincy’s first dredge ended up sinking in Torch Lake in 1956. Its roof top can still be seen sticking up from the center of the lake. As for Quincy Dredge No. 2, it continued to mine Torch Lake for several more decades until it too sank in 1967.

Read on for a detailed account of the workings of the dredge, lots of views of the dredge and some great historical photos.

Check Marty’s photo out background big and see more in his 2012 August Road Trip slideshow.

More Michigan industry on Michigan in Pictures.