Sep 08-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: September: Sep 08-05
Up above    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by E. Neil Harri
Down below    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Josh Pifke

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 07:55 am:

The heritage of many Upper Michigan residents goes back to the days when mining was the largest industry and employed a considerable number of folks. E. Neil Harri takes to the air to give us a lofty view of the Tilden and Empire Mining operations in Marquette County, two of the mines still handling the excavation process today. Quite the aerial shot, showing the two pit mines and the maze that completes the area surrounding them. Then we go underground on a tour of the Tilden mine with Josh Pifke, who also has several above ground shots in a slideshow, over in the Guest Gallery. These shots give you a closer perspective of the operations that are producing iron ore UP North.

By JOHN AND ANNE KENTUCKY (Username) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 08:15 am:

You can really get an appreciation for the size of an operation like this when viewed from above. I just downloaded the google earth program,highly recommend others do it also. From google earth you can get great resolution satelite photos,it was clear enough to see my backyard of my old house in Chicago. Sadly the Keweenaw does not show up as well as others on this program.

By Margo (Margo) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 08:21 am:

Josh, your slideshow pictures are incredible. How large is this area in Marquette County where the mining is still taking place? We thank all of you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with all of us.

By eugenia r. thompson (Ert) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 11:16 am:

What are they mining?

By Jon Maninga (Yooper1963) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 11:29 am:

Iron Ore

By Jeff Kalember (Jeffkal) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 11:49 am:

What's the word on the proposed Kennecot Mine in the Huron Mtn region? Is it a go? Whats the general concensus on how the public feels about it?

By Bill VanSickler (Fitzgerald) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 12:46 pm:

The photo of today's mine is awesome. I knew that there was still mining in your area but not this big. How much longer will this particular mine be used? And, when it is completely used, what methods are used to reclaim the land?

Your beautiful photos certainly do not replace the experience of being their in person. However, all of the photos that I have viewed help me know what it must be like to visit and live in your area.

Thank you.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 01:29 pm:

The Empire/Tilden complex is a great place to visit, especially if one can go on the tour that they put on in the summer. While these two pits are large, they pale in comparison to other open pits such as Bingham Canyon, Utah, Morenci, Arizona, and Chuquicamata in Chile. Bingham Canyon, the world's largest, is almost 1 mile deep and 2.5 miles across and is one of only 2 man-made structures visible from space (The Great Wall of China is the other). All three of these mines mine copper. The largest open pit iron mine is the Hull-Rust Mine near Hibbing, Minnesota.

As far as how long Empire/Tilden will be in operation will depend on how economic conditions are. Right now steel is in high demand, so the future looks good. However, if steel was to take a major hit economically, they could shut down. Obviously the iron ore is not continuous; it will someday run out. I was just on a tour there in July and the number that sticks in my head for the life was 15-20 years, though please don't quote me on that.

Reclamation wise I wish everyone could see the Republic Wetlands Project. 8 years ago the place where tailings were dumped after processing looked like a wasteland; no trees, no animals, no nothing. Today the area looks like your typical UP swamp with large trees, grasslands, and a multitude of plants, birds, and animals. The same will be done when the day comes that Empire/Tilden will have to close. As far as the Republic Pit, it has been allowed to fill with water. I don't know exactly what the plan is for Republic. Personally I think it would make a great trout lake; deep and cold.

The last I knew the Kennecott project was in the permitting stage. I hope that it goes through for a number of reasons, mostly because it might give me a chance to get back to the UP. Hard enough to find a job in the UP for 1 geologist, let alone 2 these days ;-) If it is still scheduled, there will be a public information meeting September 19 at Tech about the Kennecott project. One of their representitives will be on hand to discuss the project. I would encourage everyone that can to attend.

By Doug Cornett (Doug) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 01:32 pm:

While Kennecott has indicated it will be applying for a mining permit in November, the battle to keep them out of the UP is far from over. In a door-to-door survey conducted last Fall in Big Bay and Powell Township by Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, 80% of voters here oppose the mine.

And opposition to metallic sulfide mining was voiced again and again from people we encountered during Northwoods Wilderness Recovery's "Connecting Water, Connecting People" trek. Keweenaw Now has a couple of good stories on the trek, and we will be posting more on this event on our web site ( over the next few days.

By Charles in Adrian (Charlesinadrian) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 03:46 pm:

Those pics of Tilden and Empire are awesome. Earlier in the
summer my wife and I drove by those mines on M-35. All you
see from the road are these big hills. You can't even tell if they
are in operation. So those pics are enlightening, and who knew
about those underground operations!

By Ray & Chris Saxe (Ray) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 08:26 pm:

We've been on the tour several times and it is awesome. Capt.Paul/Dr.Nat, I believe that we also heard that the pit has about 20 years to go. It does depend on demand, as you pointed out. If you have the chance, this is truely a Must See in the UP!

By 69 TOOT (Flyindamooney) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 09:04 pm:

I have almost the same pic last time I flew into CMX. My instrument flight plan took me over this spot at 4000 feet and it is pretty amazing...Now the rest of you can see why pilots are pilots......We just never get tired of the view.......(Unless it is inside a cloud.....imagine being in a bucket of white paint)

By Ken ja Mimi from da UP (Kenjamimi) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 09:48 pm:

I think the 'underground' pic is really the taconite pelletizing plant. Have seen pix of this before.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 10:41 pm:

Ray/Chris Saxe,

I believe that is the number we were given by the Mine Manager. When I was there in July I was an instructor with the Teacher' Earth Science Institute (TESI), a 5 week program through MTU and the National Science Foundation that teaches k-12 educators the entire mining cycle from exploration to mining to processing to reclamation.

Many of the teachers are amazed at how much of our everyday life is connected to mining in one way or another. Just think, without mining, the fine people of the UP would not be able to post their wonderful pictures or messages on the Pastycam each and everyday ;-)

By Roger Somero (Rsomero) on Thursday, September 8, 2005 - 11:30 pm:

Ken, I think you are right. It might also be a shot of the concentrator. It's too dark to tell for sure. The only part that was underground when I worked on Tilden 2 was the cone crusher.

Sure brings back memories. I spent about two years on that project in the late 1970's.

By Josh Pifke (Nmuwildcat) on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 01:31 am:

Heh, all I did was take the tour this summer :)
Ken ja Mimi is right, this is the Tildens pelletizing plant. The pit photos from my slide show are from the Empire mine (right next door). If I recall correctly, the pit is over a mile wide, and close to a mile and a half wide? And the Tilden has the same size pit...

The tour guide said that the mines will be able to run for another 10 to 15 years for sure, before one of them has used up what they can mine.

What's interesting is that the mine complex spreads from Ishpeming to Palmer... It doesn't seem like it's that big though!

By eugenia r. thompson (Ert) on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 10:12 am:

The reason I asked about what they were mining is because I keep hearing that they are no longer mining iron ore in the UP. Looking at that massive mine, I realize that is certainly NOT the case!

Good to hear of a good reclamation project; I imagine that is required nowdays.......and it certainly should be!

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 10:47 am:

You are very correct Eugenia, a company can't even apply for a mine permit unless they have an environmental impact statement (EIS) that includes a huge bond set aside strictly for closure/reclamation activites.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 01:55 pm:

eugenia r. thompson (Ert)
"... I keep hearing that they are no longer mining iron ore in the UP."

Well, it certainly is true that they are no longer mining copper in the UP!
Perhaps some sources haven't quite figured out the difference!

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 04:32 pm:

LOL w/ FRNash, perhaps not...

By Connie Julien (Cjulien) on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 12:35 am:

Does anyone know if there was a Garden City Copper Mine in Eagle River Michigan? There is an original photo taken in the 1860s of "Garden City Copper Mine, Eagle River from a series that was entitled VIEWS OF LAKE SUPERIOR" for sale right now on ebay but it does not say what state the mine was in. Could it be Eagle River Michigan? The picture can be seen by going to and type in item number 6207552925

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 12:49 am:


There was a Garden City Copper Mine in Michigan....between the period of 1859-1966. Hmmm....

By Mary Lou Curtin (Marylou) on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 06:45 am:

I wonder what the impact of the proposed Kennecot project will have on the Huron Mountain Club. There are some influential folks that are members and would guess that if they do not want it..... it will not happen!!

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 12:13 am:


Wishing is very correct. There is a Garden City Mine past the Bible camp on the Garden City Road near Eagle River. The seller on ebay appearently doesn't know there is an Eagle River, MI since they assume it to be Wisconsin. Plus, no copper was ever mined in or even near Eagle River, WI.

Since Garden City is one of the old mines in the Keweenaw, the piles mostly buried by 150 years of overgrowth. However, if you can get through it, there are some nice minerals to be had.

By Marc Slis (Marc) on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 10:49 am:

Capt. Paul and Dr. Nat,
While an environmental impact assessment is required, a HUGE bond is not. I do not remember the exact amount, but I have read most of the drafts of both the regulations and rules recently developed by the state and the bond is nowhere near what will be required for reclamation. As a geologist, you probably know that AMD does not clean up quickly, cheaply or easily. Also, FYI, recently exploration activity in the Keweenaw has been stepped up by several firms. Seems that Keweenaw copper may once again become economical...

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 11:03 pm:

Every state I've ever worked in including michigan requires a bond to be posted before a mining permit will be issued. Federal agencies are involved in this permitting process as well, and most states even provide a reclamation estimate calculator. Bonds that are posted vary in the amount depending upon the extent and type of reclamation that is deemed neccessary by all regulating agencies. Companies these days have to do one of two things, either set aside a bond amount equal to what was determined by the state and federal regulators for reclamation activities, or if the company is large enough with enough assets they can agree to cover any reclamation costs that come about. If they fail to do so, the government can seaze those assets enough to cover the costs of reclamation PLUS a hefty fine. Now I'm not sure what Michigan has determined to be the reclamation cost at Eagle, but if its not enough, it's probably the state regulators fault for underestimating, not Kennecott.

Secondly, as any good geologist knows, acid mine drainage is a pain to clean up. With an appropriate mine design, acid mine drainage can be prevented and thus won't need remediation in the future.

Also I should know about all the new exploration activity in the Keweenaw; I am one of the geologist's involved with that exploration and was just there for 4 weeks in July/August. Hopefully something will come about from it so that I can post as "Capt. Paul and Dr. Nat in the Keweenaw" in the future ;-)

By Bill Denning (Parpagayo) on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 10:23 pm:

Where exactly was the Garden City Mine located? Here's why I'm asking:

If you go up the Garden City Road from town, about a half mile uphill from the last house (where the snow plows stop in the winter), there is a two rut road that goes a short distance into the woods on the left hand side of the road. If you get out and walk a bit, you can tell that you are clearly in an old mine location.

The last several times that I've been there, it's been fairly dry, just a bit marshy. But in 1978, there was a pretty large pond, complete with frogs & turtles, and I took some very nice photos there.

I'm guessing that the pond was the site of a mine shaft. The place that I'm describing can be found by climbing a pile of poor rock past where the two rut road peters out.

My friend Jean Petermann Kemp Zimmer, who was an Eagle River native, and a mineralogist, told me that she thought that this was the site of the old Mayflower Mine. Was this perhaps the Garden City Mine? Does anyone know for sure where the Mayflower Mine was located?

Thanks, Bill

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