Jan 13-08

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2008: January: Jan 13-08
Winter at Senter    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Ted Sved
Remote Copper Country enterprise    ...scroll down to share comments
Book by Bill Haller
What is this man doing?    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Ted Sved
Where nitro flowed    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Ted Sved

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 07:11 am:

Author Bill Haller recently added new scenes to his Guest Gallery album of Atlas Powder photos, recalling life at Senter, Michigan near Dollar Bay. The hard working guys with the pickup stopped long enough for Ted Sved to preserve their smiles, sometime during the mid-twentieth century. Mr. Bill has compiled a rich collection of vintage photos and narrative about Senter and "The Village" built around the Atlas explosives plant. Seen through the eyes of an engineer, Bill takes us inside the operation for an up-close look. Since the book has been published, several folks have dug into their shoeboxes for even more memories. Among these new photos, Bill describes one interesting occupation:

The corrosion resistance of lead was know since Roman times when they applied it to their plumbing, that word derrived from the Latin "plumbum", meaning lead. Before the wide commercialization of synthetic rubber and stainless steel during the Second World War, lead was the material of choice for containing acidic substances. At Atlas, the floor of the new nitroglycerin house was covered with one-eighth inch lead, while the various tanks were lined with quarter-inch lead, all welded together with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Julius Casperson is shown above applying his craft, seaming a lead acid pipe at the Atlas powder plant in Senter in 1947. The 300 foot wooden nitroglycerin trough was also lined with lead sheeting prior to its later being "upgraded" with synthetic rubber lining.
Mr. Casperson

Merv Sastamoinen, who replaced Julius as a lead-burner at Atlas, still recalls that used lead was recycled by melting it in a pit with burning wood, and later recovering the solidified molten puddle from the bottom.
Thanks, Mr. Bill, and congratulations on the success of Atlas Powder: Senter, Michigan 1910-1960. We understand that sales during its first year have already covered the cost of creating it, meaning that all future proceeds will go to the Dollar Bay Foundation. Locally and on the web it is available at Copper World

Have a good week :o)
RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 09:56 am:

One fact that stuck with me after reading Mr. Haller's book had to do with the strike of 1913. Shortly after the dynamite operation began, the strike came along, throwing a monkeywrench into the new company's plans. But the point I remember is that they apparently started shipping the dynamite BACK to Senter - just to safeguard against it being used for any kind of protest activity.

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 01:29 pm:

The lines between who were the good guys and who were the bad guys during the 1913 Strike were vague at best and often largely dependent on whose side you were on. Even today. where many late 20th and 21st Century authors see the Companies as the root of all evil. While the Companies were not saintlike, neither was the Western Federation of Miners. The use of explosives is well documented during labor disputes where the WFM was involved. One of the more notable incidents was the detonation of a railroad depot full of scabs in Colorado's Cripple Creek district.
James MacNaughton's absolute refusal to deal with the Union was based partially on personal experience. MacNaughton's college friend, Bulkelly Wells, was the target of a WFM assassination attempt in Telluride, Colorado. Bulkelly, at the time, was the son-in-law of C&H Officer Thomas Livermore. He was managing a mine for Livermore. Allot of Copper Country money was invested in the West and MacNaughton probably had the full agreement from Boston to hold the line against the WFM, because they already had experience with the Union.
Actually, by all accounts, Bulkelly Wells was a lowlife cad who, by the sense of justice in the early 20th Century, deserved to removed, his management style was far worse than anything in the Copper Country. He later dumped Livermore's daughter, fell from grace with everyone, and ended his miserable life in San Francisco.
So back to sending dynamite back to Senter - it was good strategy to remove a potential weapon. There was no doubt that the striking miners were proficient in its use, and that the WFM had a reputation for using the tools at hand.
My Great-grandfather and Grandfather worked for C&H at the time of the 1913 Strike, along with a whole clan of relatives. Many were long time employees of the Company and for the most part did not join the WFM. Their perspective was different from the Trammers and newer men in the mine. My Grandfather later became a very strong Union man, actually belonging to a successor to the WFM. Despite that, he could never find a reason to justify the 1913 Strike, he always thought it a terrible mistake. Such were the divisions back then.
The 1913 Strike was the Copper Country's darkest hour. Both sides are guilty of excesses. The Italian Hall Disaster stands out as the worst moment of the worst year. Weather it was a deliberate act of terrorism or a horrible accident, we may never know with 100% certainty, despite all the research. In perspective, during that same dark December of 1913, the Colorado Militia rode into a WFM striker's camp (they were evicted from their company houses)at Ludlow killing men women and children and burning the camp, all to preserve the right of Colorado Fuel and Iron to run its mines as it saw fit. The WFM had reason to believe the Companies and Government were not to be trusted. Those of us living now can't imagine what 1913 was like.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 02:10 pm:

Very interesting entry Paul. You are right that 1913 was a dismally
dark hour for the Copper Country-- a fact made amply evident by
a trip to the cemetery outside of Calumet.

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 02:55 pm:

My Dad was born in 1913, so he would have had no first-hand knowledge of the strike. But the consequences reverberated for his whole life, causing him to come to Detroit, where he didn't want to be, to marry and raise his children. He would often proudly say about his family that they always had food on the table.

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 03:13 pm:

Love the book! Got a copy recently from Mr. Bill. I'm one of the many as noted in the book that lived very nearby (Woodside) and never saw the place and barely knew of it's presence. Fascinating story!

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 09:48 pm:

Very good description of the strike Paul. It is true that neither side were saints in the matter, but the WFM had the reputation of playing hardball out west and it was definitely feared the same tactics would be used in the Copper Country, hence returning the explosives to Senter was probably a good move.

One of these days I'll have to get a copy of Bill's Atlas Powder book; sounds like an interesting read......

Powered by:  
Join Today!
Each day the Pasty Cam has 2 areas to post messages: 
  • Cam Notes - comments related to today's picture and discussion
  • What'sUP - other topics, conversation and announcements
  • *** Please use the appropriate forum ***
    Here's a list of messages posted in the past 24 hours
    See our guest photo gallery for more great views from the U.P.

    Add a Message

    A user/password combination is now required to post messages to Cam Notes. Registration is free. Click here to register or maintain your I.D.

    Home | Pasty Cam | Contest | Order Now | Bridge Cam | Past-E-Mail | GP Hall of Fame | Making Pasties | Questions