Nov 06-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: November: Nov 06-05
South Kearsarge Shaft    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from Copper Country Reflections

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 09:53 am:

Last week...

Young miners
...when we noted the young candle-heads in the front row of this 1890's photo, I didn't even realize it was taken at the South Kearsarge mine. In case you've missed the last few days of the Pasty Cam, you may not be aware of the news out of Kearsage: Pasty Central is expanding its kitchen facilities on a piece of land adjacent to The Hut-Inn, which has been closed the past year-and-a-half. And the plan is, for the Hut itself, to re-open by Mother's Day of 2006.

Besides geography, there's another link we have to these rugged miners of a century ago: They were in search of copper. Today, we use copper as a pipeline to the World Wide Web. Even if your Internet provider has more exotic transport - fiber, wireless, satellite, etc. - it is still dependent upon copper for its connections. How appropriate that here in the heart of the Copper Country, a new network center is being constructed which will tie-in the whole U.P. to an expanded high speed Internet on-ramp.

Besides the larger Pasty kitchen and the return of the Hut in a few months, Pasty.NET will have its new DSL headquarters on the Kearsage acreage, just a couple miles down US-41 from Still Waters, where the project began in 1996. Several people have asked if Pasty will continue to benefit Still Waters - and the answer is a resounding yes! As Pasty Central and Pasty.NET grow, we celebrate our roots, and hope to provide even more support for the non-profit Home for the Aged. Many of its residents are children of miners like the ones in today's Shoebox Memory, and some were even miners themselves.

Our thanks again to Chuck Voelker of Copper Country Reflections for today's group photo. What a difference a century makes :o)
NKR (Nkr) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:03 am:

Good morning from Mishawaka IN. Those are some rugged and tuff looking men. Are the candles on their hats what they used to see in the mines with? Didn't they have little lights attached to their hats?

Not until headlamps were invented ;^>

By Mr. Bill (Mrbill) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:18 am:


Carbide and electric lamps came later. I've read that some mines even sold the special clay that was used to stick them onto the helmits, along with selling the candles. Talk about your full service store.

By david sandretto (Yooperdfs) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:21 am:

NKR, the little lights came after the candles. This photo actually does represent the 'old days'. My father, Ralph, was one of the grand old U.P. miners back in the 1950's. He had the little light on his hat.

By NKR (Nkr) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:49 am:

Thanks everyone for the information. Its hard to believe that men went down into the mines with candles attached to their hats. I thought there were gases down in the mines. Were there explosion?

By JOHN AND ANNE KENTUCKY (Username) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 11:10 am:

NKR I am not sure but I think the copper mines were not as dangerous in regard to gases as say coal mines. The methane would come out of the coal seams and accumulate in the mines. I have been told in the old days a mine would have a torch man to go around and burn off the gas pockets,what a job!

By NKR (Nkr) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 11:55 am:

Thanks John and Anne for the information. Being a torch man is not the job I would want. How brave you had to be just to go to work. Thanks Eddyfitz for the link. Its a good article. Makes me want to pack my bags and head on up to the Keweenaw.

The Free Press/Estivant Pines discussion and pictures have been moved to the What'sUP page, join us there for viewing: Free Press - Estivant Pines pictures :->

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 12:34 pm:

Of course the best pictures of Estivant Pines are right here at Pasty Central. Just do a search of the Archives.

Photo by Peg Riemer, 9/17/02

Alex J. Tiensivu (Ajtiensivu) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 12:36 pm:

I LOVE these shoebox memories. They are so awesome and I appreciate this site so much!

By Carolyn Spoehr (Canyongal) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 02:22 pm:

which one is the South Kearsarge Mine, Is that the Kearsarge #4 mine. If it is my parents owned that land for a number of years, selling it last year

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 02:53 pm:

I love the Shoe Box pics...because I always learn so much about the history of the Keeweenaw, with everyone's posts. Sundays are always an enjoyable lesson in history. ;)

By JAD, Oscar, MI (Jandalq) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 05:39 pm:

Thanks, CH, for the connections!

By Gary W. Long (Gary_in_co) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 06:26 pm:

Look at the size of the timbers stacked up behind the miners. Maybe that is where the rest of the giant White Pines that weren't fortuitous enough to take root on what is now the Estivant Pines Sanctuary. -(see discussion in todays What's UP)-

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 07:01 pm:

There were two Kearsarges. A North and a South. The Wolverine Mine was in between. South Kearsarge was located just North of Centennial's Kearsarge Lode shafts 1 & 2 and south of Wolverine #4. As Charlie says that puts those guys about due East of the Hut. The North Kearsage Mine was up by Copper City.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 07:34 pm:

Lol, see what I get for coming on so late in the day, I almost missed getting in on the mining history of the Keweenaw!!

A little history on mining lights. The first commercial miners to the copper country in 1844 used candles stuck into a lump of clay on the miner's hat; simple, but effective. Next came the famous candlesticks you see in many of the old pictures (like the one today). Candlesticks were introduced around 1850 and used until the 1920's in some cases. The first ones were made of tallow, but in the 1870's candle makers switched to stearic acide, a more refined form of animal fat. The candles were about 9 inches long and about 3/4 inch diameter. Most had hooks that could be attached to the miner's helmet, or a spike which could be driven into a wood beam. In a 10 hour shift a miner used between 3 and 5 candles and usually had to buy these themselves.

Oil wick lamps were invented in Scotland in 1850, gained a US patent in 1862, and gradually replaced candlesticks by about 1890. Various fuels including lard, bacon grease, beeswax, whale oil, and axle grease diluted with kerosene was used. The famous "Sunshine" fuel came about in 1897 and was a mixture of parrafin wax and 3% mineral oil. The fuel came in a solid block, about 7x3 inches. Lamps burning this fuel were called sunshine or "teapot" lamps because of their shape. They were attached in the same manner as candlesticks.

Carbide lamps were invented about 1900 and used in copper mines beginning in 1910. The carbide light was much brighter than candles or oilwick lamps, and could be directed in a particular direction by using a reflector. Water dripping onto calcium carbide in a lower container produced acetylene gas, which is ignited by a flint sparker on the reflector.

The battery powered lamps of today (Wheat, Nite-Lite, etc...) came about 1940 and have been used since, with only minor improvements. They are much safer, especially in coal mines where the danger of gases is present. If for some reason the front plastic cover on a wheat lamp breaks, the light will shutoff to prevent sparking an explosion of gases.

As far as gases in copper mines there were none, so no risk of explosions. The most common danger underground was slip and fall, rock bursts, or fires caused by igniting the wood support timbers.

By Alex J. Tiensivu (Ajtiensivu) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 10:46 pm:

Does anyone know of a place called "Copper-Rama" somewhere in the U.P.? I've been trying to learn of it, if it still exists. They gave tours in a smaller mine.

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 11:54 pm:


There was a Copper-Rama museum South of Houghton on US 41 at the the Isle Royale mill site. Most of it was in an underground water resevoir, giving them the claim to an "underground" tour. This was back in the '60's. I don't recall when they "went under".

By Ken ja Mimi from da UP (Kenjamimi) on Sunday, November 6, 2005 - 11:58 pm:

When I was a kid in Hubbell, the Antilla Bros. junkyard had an acetylene generator that used carbide and water to make acetylene gas to fuel the torch for burning iron and steel, scrap metal and auto/truck frames, etc. Then the spent carbide was used as paint or whitewash after being removed from the generator. What a job it was to get it out of there! There were a few of the carbide mining lamps at my great-grandfather, Isaac Holster's house in Paavola. He worked in one of the Quincy mines for a short time.

By Carolyn Spoehr (Canyongal) on Monday, November 7, 2005 - 08:18 am:

Thanks for the information. If I thought about it I would have relized that my parents by Copper City would have been the North One not the South one. Got my directions wrong.


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