Sep 04-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: September: Sep 04-05
Half century of C&H Mining    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Frederic J. Haun

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 09:38 am:

If you have just recently discovered Pasty Central, we welcome you to a remote region of Michigan's Upper Peninsula known as the "Copper Country". Each weekend we bring a Shoebox Memory, a glimpse of life from the past in the U.P. This Labor Day weekend we remember the hard-working miners and their families who carved out a life here on the Keweenaw Peninsula. In 1916, Calumet and Hecla marked 50 years of operation. During the celebration, well-known local photographer Fredric J. Haun climbed atop the Vertin Building in Calumet (along with his photography equipment) and brought back this scene for us to enjoy almost a century later.

I would love to climb to that spot this week and take a shot of the same view. The tallest smokestack is gone now, but the shorter one with the smoke is still standing, over by Calumet High School. Some of the support buildings also remain to this day.

Our thanks to Paul Meier for preserving his grandfather's pictures in a collection here at Pasty Central, a part of Copper Country Reflections.

Have a safe holiday and a good week :0)

By Grace M Wetton (Gmw) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 09:49 am:

Great picture of history back then!

By Ken Scheibach (Kscheibach) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 11:01 am:

A great historic photo. These folks appear to be proud miners and Americans. A close study of this photo reveals tens, if not hundreds, of U.S. flags.

By Ms. Katie (Mskatie) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 11:06 am:

Is there anyone out there who can explain in simple terms just how the copper was mined and processed? I know my grandfather worked in the buildings in Hubbell on the end toward Lake Linden. What is the difference between "stamping"and processing the ore from rock. I think the copper was made into what, ingots? That's what I understand how steel was processed localy at our steel mill until it folded a few years ago. I look at all the photos on this site but don't know what I'm looking at. Thanks to any one who can explain to this simple mind.

By Pauline (Yooperinpa) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 03:10 pm:

I would love to see a picture of that same view as it is today. Thanks for sharing.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 03:17 pm:

Ms. Katie,

I worked for many years as a guide at the Quincy Mine giving tours and now as an exploration geologist, so I will try to explain it and if anyone wants to add something, feel free to. I will explain it as I would for the tour at Quincy...

When Quincy began in 1848, they were only searching for large, mass pieces of copper. Some of the mass pieces were quite large, up to 300 tons (about the size of the school bus!). However, these large pieces were very hard to mine. First of all, you just can't remove a large piece from the ground whole. You also can't just blast the copper out because copper is a very soft metal; the copper will just bend and twist around the blast, not breaking. The miners would have to cut these pieces up into smaller sized chunks using chisels, sledgehammers, and rarely crosscut saws. This of course was very labor intensive, and the company simply couldn't afford to pay these men for the time it took, so by 1855, Quincy nearly went bankrupt.

In 1853 however, the Pewabic Mining Co. just up the road from Quincy was mining copper not in large chunks, but scattered throughout the basalt in smaller pea-sized (average) pieces. They called this the "Pewabic Lode". Quincy discovered that the richest part of the Lode ran across the property, so in 1856, Quincy shifted their focus over to mining lode copper.

These lodes followed the angle at which the basalt flows were at, approximately 54 degrees at Quincy. Also, the reddish color of the Pewabic Lode differed from the surrounding basalt which was gray/brown, making easy for the miners to follow the richest part of the Lode. One other trick the miners used to make sure they were in the right spot was to "feel for fish-hooks". Once an area was blasted out, the miners would run their hand over the fresh surface to feel the sharp pieces of copper poking out.

To blast a section of the mine, the miners first have to drill by hand (before 1880. After 1880 air-powered drills were introduced) using a drillsteel and one or two sledgehammers in 3 man teams. This was done primarily by Cornish, German, or Irish miners. If they were a good enough team, they could drill 15 holes, 3 ft deep, in 6 days. That last shift of miners would also charge the hole with black powder (before 1870's. After this was a variety of powders and dynomite), set the fuses, light them, and blast. Each blast removed 10-12 tons of ore. Sunday was their day off to let the dust settle. Monday the trammers would come in, load this ore into tram cars, and haul it to the shafts where a waiting kibble bucket or skipcar could take it to the surface.

Once to the surface, the ore is sent through a series of crushers and stamp mills until it was reduced to pea-sized pieces. The ore is then sent to a series of tables with ridges on the surface, called a Wiffley Table, then flooded with water. Since copper is heavier than the basalt, the copper would sink to the bottom and the lighter basalt is washed off the table. The copper is then sent to the smelters. Since the "Lake Copper" was very pure (95-99% in most cases) it could directly be melted and formed into sheets or ingots depending on the end users needs, then put on ships and sent out.

I will admit this is the very watered down version of copper mining in the Keweenaw. I hope this helps you at least understand a little about how the Keweenaw became world famous. Again if anyone wants to add something please do. If you have any other questions fire them this way....

"Capt." Paul

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 03:26 pm:

Ms. Katie,
With very few exceptions, the copper mines on the Keweenaw Peninsula mined native copper in one form or another. "Native" means the copper was pure metal, not an ore, and the copper pieces ranged in size from many tons to the microscopic all locked in a rock matrix. They sank shafts along a lode and drifts out from the shafts into the lode and from these they mined the copper bearing rock. All this was done by drilling holes in the rock, filling the holes with a blasting agent, the blast would break the rock, and finally the rock was trammed and hoisted to the surface. Once one the surface the rock was crushed to a size small enough to enter the stampmill. At the stampmill the rock was crushed and ground at various steps until it ended up as realtively fine sand. The copper was separated from the rock at each step, either by hand picking or mechanical means. This mostly copper concentrate was then moved to the smelters where it was melted and the last remaining rock impurities were drawn off and the copper cast into ingots or billets to be shipped out and sold. At the time my Grandfather made the above picture, about 100,000 people lived in the Copper Country. Not all of them worked in the mines , but the whole economy was dependent on the mines.

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 03:52 pm:

Just recieved the population figures on Saturday for the Copper Country in 1894:
Calumet 2,192 (Not Calumet Township)
Hancock 1,662
Houghton 2,178
Lake Linden 2,425
Red Jacket 4,664
Ontonagon 2,070
Baraga 1,084
L'Anse 957

By Butch Cassidy (Butch) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 05:09 pm:

Anyone know the population in these towns today?

By John (Johnmich) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 06:38 pm:


By John (Johnmich) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 06:39 pm:

From 2001 Michigan State Department of Transportation map (1990 census):

Calumet 818
Hancock 4,547
Houghton 7,498
Lake Linden 1,203
Red Jacket *
Ontonagon 2,040
Baraga 1,231
L'Anse 2,151

* from wikipedia:,_Michigan

In 1929, Red Jacket and surrounding company towns were reincorporated as the town of Calumet.

What is now Calumet was settled in 1864, originally under the name of Red Jacket, named for a Native American Chief of the Seneca tribe. Until 1895 the name "Calumet" was used by the nearby town of Laurium, Michigan; present day Calumet was not legally named so until 1929.

By Peter J. Makousky (Petem) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 08:29 pm:

Greetings UP

By Ms. Katie (Mskatie) on Sunday, September 4, 2005 - 08:50 pm:

Thank you Capt. Paul and Paul Meir. You both made it very easy to understand. If you need to know anything ask the folks not only know things but who can explain it to amateurs. Altho I've never lived in the UP myself, I have a feeling for anything copper. The looks and feel etc. It may sound goofy but it has a spirit I can appreciate.Thanks again fellows.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Monday, September 5, 2005 - 12:14 am:

Anytime Ms. Katie ;-)

By Bob Tiura (Bobtiura) on Monday, September 5, 2005 - 12:25 am:

Ms. Katie, try this link for copper mining:

I hope you have a lot of time to explore the whole site!

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Monday, September 5, 2005 - 02:58 am:

Check my "Guest photo album" for many old antique photo postcards of Keweenaw copper mining. Postmarks from early 1900s. Miners down in the mines, Copper ingots loading on ships from Dollar Bay & Houghton, etc. etc. I have a few more to post coming soon!
Russ Emmons

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Monday, September 5, 2005 - 07:19 am:

Russ Emmons' Guest Gallery Album is a rich collection of Copper Country life over a span of many years, from the mining days to the present.

old postcard

This morning (Monday, Labor Day) I'm just catching up on the comments, conversation, and new pictures in the Guest Gallery. A big THANK YOU to the hundreds of contributors who continually give back so much more than we put in to this project. When Jonathan and I started the Pasty Cam back in the winter of '97-'98, our principle was simply this: If we couldn't live in the U.P., what would we want to see every day to stay in touch?

Over the years our roles have shifted. These days we have a dedicated staff which selects and prepares the daily photos and monitors the forums, galleries, pasty orders, etc. Besides our Sunday Shoebox Memories, I still have a hand in the day-to-day publishing, and Jonathan maintains our network, security, and servers - which have added hundreds of other U.P. websites and thousands of users along the way.

But what I enjoy most about Pasty Central, is tuning in every day to find the pictures and comments - like those on this page - which give a deeper understanding of the people, the history, the culture, and the beauty of our neck-of-the-woods here in the Upper Peninsula.
Welcome Home

Helen (Heleninhubbel) on Tuesday, September 6, 2005 - 05:09 am:

The history and people of this area continue to amaze me. I really became interested in the history of the U.P. while helping my dear friend Mary Long go thru her family home, after her parents were gone, in order to move into it. I had the privilage of caring for her mom years earlier and learned Mary's father's family had lived in Eagle River since about 1846. Her dad Alan Long must have saved everything!!! As his parents and Aunts died, their houses became his. His family owned the original Jail in Houghton County, the Post office, and several homes.......the pictures and information Mr Long kept are remarkable.......History became alive for me helping Mary go thru family treasures.

I love reading the information in this web sight. I love seeing the old postcards......and I love all of you!!!

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