After setting up in the rain, I drove into Calumet to make a phone call. The rain practically stopped, so I took a little drive to go by the mine I saw on my way up here and to find out if they have tours in the rain for something for me to do tomorrow. But, a tour was starting in 15 minutes and they give you a jacket and hard hat for part of the tour so I didn’t have to come prepared for the cold! So, without my camera, I took the tour. While I saw some remaining buildings in Calumet that were part of the biggest and most profitable mine in the region, with this tour, I got to go on a cog rail down a big hill, then on a wagon into the side of a mountain for 1500 feet to see what mining was like in the beginning. We were in the 7th level of a 92 level mine by the time they stopped in 1945. The mine went down 9260 feet. Once it closed in 1945, water filled all the levels below the 7th level. Water dripping down from the rain is directed out of the mine, but it was damp in there, just like it would have been in the 1800s. A candle was lit on the wall of the mine and the lights were turned off, sowing us how much light they had to work by. Then that candle was blown out, as it happened at times from drafts, water drops, etc. and all was pitch dark. We were shown the drills used and learned how they worked through the years of mining, including the long nail that was hammered into the rock in the beginning.
Once we came back up the hill, we were shown the gigantic steam hoist that was used to raise and lower skiffs and man cars in the mine. Our guide explained how it worked, that it was brought in through a large garage door in pieces because the building was constructed before the hoist was delivered in 1918, and that it was used for only 11 years because the depression caused the mine to close and when it was started up again, the hoist and cables were in so much disrepair that they couldn’t be used. The company closed all their mines in 1945. Skiffs brought ore up to the surface very quickly. Man cars (looks like they were sitting on stair steps) replaced the skiffs 3 times a day to bring workers up and down at the change of shifts. If you needed to leave in the middle of shifts, you climbed up or hitched a ride on a skiff but jumped off before the ore was dumped down the shaft!
Quincy Mining Company was the second most profitable company in the area with 9% of the country’s ore while Calumet and Hecla produced 27%. The third place mine produced about 2% of the ore and it went down from there for over 23 mines on this peninsula. Three Ls were needed to make a successful company – luck with good land, good laborers, and good leadership. I think the luck needs a capital letter!
I went back on the 29th to get some outdoor pictures. I can't go inside any building unless I buy another $14 ticket.