Monday, May 14, 2018

(Photos) The abandoned Ahmeek Stamp Mill

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."
Ecclesiastes., 1:2.

"Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass
Waves rolling in with the tide
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode
But we cannot be denied
The fire inside "
Bob Seger, "The Fire Inside"

US Route 41, a byway, is the main route on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, which itself is part of the much larger Upper Peninsula of the Great Lake State. A byway of that byway is M-26, that is. Michigan State Route 26.

And that is where you will find the unincorporated community of Tamarack City and the ruins of the Ahmeek Stamp Mill.

That metal machine on top of the concrete platform is a stamp, a steam powered crusher of rocks. The goal was to extract copper from those rocks. Only two of the old stamp foundations are seen here, there are eight of them, each had its own stamp, according to the resourceful Copper County Explorer.

On the right up in the sky are birds.

Look for the abandoned stamp mill on M-26 near Golf Course Road.

Here are three more foundations, along with the eponymous-on-the-Keweenaw wild sweet pea.

There's a tiny display case dedicated to the history of the complex where this photograph, courtesy of Mike Schmitt of Tamarack City, is pinned.

Yes, that's what it looked like decades ago.

The nearby Ahmeek Mine opened in 1902, the stamp mill began operations in 1904. In the 1920s the largest mining company on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Calumet and Hecla, took control of both.

Copper Country Explorer explains what that metal device might be:
Dominating that floor is this interesting item – a shallow "bowl" protruding up from the wash floor’s surface. This would be another modern addition to the complex, most likely added by C&H [Calumet and Hecla] during its tenure. I say this mostly because there’s a ton more of these to be found at C&H’s own mill ruins down the shore. I’m not exactly sure what type of machine they belong to. They could be from a type of circular wash table known as a Buddle. They also could be part of a Chilean Mill, a type of regrinding machine. They also could be part of a floatation tank, which used chemicals and agitation to separate fine particles of copper.
Had people forgotten about the Ahmeek Mill, perhaps legends would describe this place as Spinal Tap did in the song "Stonehenge."

"In ancient times,
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people, the Druids
No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock, of Stonehenge."
Spinal Tap, "Stonehenge."

This concrete foundation once supported a massive steam turbine.

Adjacent to the ruins is Tamarack City Park. The park obviously is public property but the old mill is not, I saw a couple of "No Trespassing" signs. I'm curious as to who owns the land. If it's Houghton County, which I suspect it is, then they should turn this area, with signage including "No Climbing" and "Enter at Your Own Risk," into an urban exploration park.

Gary, Indiana has entertained doing something similar with the abandoned City United Methodist Church.

These pedestals used to support ball mills.

Wikipedia tells us what those are:
A ball mill is a type of grinder used to grind and blend materials for use in mineral dressing processes, paints, pyrotechnics, ceramics and selective laser sintering. It works on the principle of impact and attrition: size reduction is done by impact as the balls drop from near the top of the shell.
After reading that entry, I've gone from being clueless to confused. Engineering is not exactly my long suit.

The Ahmeek Stamp mill closed sometime in the 1960s and the buildings were razed in the following decade.

Calumet and Hecla was acquired by Universal Oil Products in 1968. A few months later C&H workers went on strike. The two sides were unable to agree to terms and the mines were shuttered.

And so ended copper mining on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The nearby White Pine Mine in Ontonagon County closed down in 1997.

Writing this post would have been impossible without research done at the Copper County Explorer site.

Here is Part One of its post on the Ahmeek Stamp Mill. And for more read Part Two.

This other Copper Country Explorer entry is about Tamarack City Park.

Next: The Quincy Mill

Related posts:

(Photos) Gay, Michigan

(Photos) The Quincy Mining Company Historic District

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