So Hank informed me one Saturday that she had Sunday through Wednesday off, and that it would be great if we could do another Yoopee road trip. We hit the road in the Millenium Thundercougarfalconbird on Sunday with almost no planning whatsoever other than we knew we wanted to get to Copper Country.
We made it to Ishpeming at about 1am and stopped to sleep. We woke up and drove to Houghton, for breakfast at da Soumi Bakery, eh. Also grabbed a couple pasties for da road don’tcha know. After that we checked out the Quincy Smelting Works on the other side of the Portage Canal, and walked around it even though it is well-fenced now, and under restoration since I was there in 2005:
From there we decided to take a little drive up M-26 to the ruins of the Quincy Stamp Mill #1, on the shore of Torch Lake.
power plant…Finnish graffiti?!
Up back toward the woods a little farther, I found some more ruins that I had not given much consideration on my first visit:
Just a couple minutes up the road we found the Ahmeek Stamp Mill’s gargantuan ruins, in the town of Tamarack City.
The Mendota Mining Company was organized in 1865; however, mining was taking place as early as 1855 under Meteor Mining Company management. Three of the shafts were sunk under Meteor management, with the other two shafts being more exploration shafts sunk under Mendota control. With the price of copper during the American Civil War rising, investors formed the Company and quickly built a smelter and stamp mill on nearby Lac La Belle. The ore that came from these shafts was different than most places; a black/gray sulphate which the company mined until 1873 when it was realized it could not turn a profit and the mine closed for good. If the piles can be found, the “black/gray sulphate” mineral the mine discovered can still be collected; today, we call it chalcocite.Lawrence Molloy's Guide to Michigan's Historic Keweenaw Copper District, on the other hand, says that the Conglomerate / Delaware Mine built this mill in 1881. He further notes however that both the Mendota Mine and Lac LaBelle Mine became part of the Delaware Conglomerate by 1888.
To further complicate matters, Mike Forgrave of CopperCountryExplorer.com says that over the years the Delaware Mine had been under the corporate umbrella of even more companies, including the Pennsylvania, Conglomerate, Northwest, and Lac La Belle, and, "With each new ownership change came a renewed investment in the mine’s surface plant, including the construction of no less than five separate stamp mills," three of which were built along the shore of Lac LaBelle." I have no doubt that the Delaware has truly the most confusing history of any mine in Michigan, so I won't attempt to sort it out any further here, rather, I'll leave it to the brave professionals. It truly was the "mine of a thousand faces," as Mike puts it. But I think it is safe to say that what Molloy wrote is basically correct.
Practically overjoyed, we drove back up to the main access road and down into town again for beer (and more water for the radiator). I couldn’t believe we were about to camp on top of Mt. Brockway.
Upon returning to the mountaintop with a full cooler of KBCs, expecting to see an epic sunset, we noticed that the coastal mists that had shrouded the Lake Superior shoreline were now growing with the late hour’s decreased temperature, and the mighty lake’s cold breath turned them into massive fogs that rolled inland very swiftly…
Guide to Michigan's Historic Keweenaw Copper District, by Lawrence Molloy, pg. 65-66