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Early Days in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

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Early Days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

A collection of 4 Historical Reports and an autobiographical sketch.

Written by John H. Forster in the late 1800s.

  • Life in The Copper Mines of Lake Superior
  • Early Settlement of the Copper Regions of Lake Superior
  • Finance of Mining Lake Superior Mines
  • War Times in The Copper Mines
  • Autobiography to 1892

    68 pages

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  • ...begin sample page...

    compressed air sent down in tubes from reservoirs on the surface. The dynamite cartridge explodes with terrific force, tears asunder the hardest rock held together by tough native copper. ‘Great blocks come crashing down and are seized upon by the trammers, thrown into cars which are pushed to the shafts. Here the rock is dumped into huge skips, or cars, and hoisted by the great engine to the surface, and then dumped into a car of an automatic tram road and moved rapidly away to the distant rock houses where the car discharges its freight and returns to its station without the aid of man. It is hauled by an endless rope wound round a big drum at the engine house. In the rock house it is treated by a large gang of men called surface men.

    The underground city is a curious place. To remove the water from the mine great iron pipes descend to the bottom and the great pump, moved by a powerful engine, lifts the water to the surface when it is discharged. To keep the mine open, or in other words, to keep the opposite walls from coming together after the mineral has been removed from the lode, an immense quantity of heavy timber is used as shoves or stays. A quarter section of pine would speedily find burial in those deep caverns. Indeed a big mine has an awful maw for stolls or saw logs. The consumption of square and round timber and plank is enormous.

    The hardy fellows who work in the mine are generally contented and healthy. The liability to accidents is ever present, but there are no noxious gases, no terrible explosions, as in coal mines. The air is salubrious, though tainted as a matter of course, with the smoke of “villainous gun­powder.” The miners work in gangs or “pairs as they term it. A “pair, may be two, four or six men, then also called a “party.” The work is gen­erally by contract, and goes on night and day. The ten hour system prevails —though often, owing to peculiar circumstances, a gang works only eight hours. The night “shift” dine at midnight in the depths of the mine. They carry down with them a tin pail containing coffee and meats. A Corn­ishman when he is going to dine says, I must take my “meat.” They warm their coffee with the candle on their hats; their “paasty” in the same man­ner. A “paasty” is an enormous turn-over, filled with chopped beefsteak, boiled potatoes and onions with spice. . This strong dish is immensely satis­fying. It is the Cornishman’s great backer, but no

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