The Osceola Mining Company, an underground copper mine consisting of 11 shafts around Calumet, was organized in 1873. The mine worked the Calumet Conglomerate but only became profitable after discovering the Osceola Amygdaloid Lode in 1877. In 1879, The Osceola Mining Company merged with the Opechee Mining Co. to form the Osceola Consolidated Mining Co. In 1897, the company began mining the Kearsarge Lode by starting the North and South Kearsarge Mines.
In 1905, Calumet & Hecla began buying up shares in profitable and unprofitable mines alike, buying from a fifth to a half of the stock of surrounding mines, including the Osceola. Calumet and Hecla brought all these mines under their general management and control. Unfortunately, lawsuits interfered and delayed complete control. But in 1923, all of the separate mines started operating legally as one under the new Calumet and Hecla Consolidated. Calumet & Hecla again worked the Osceola mine until it closed in 1931. In the 1950s, due to the Korean War, C&H reopened the Osceola mine and operated it until the 1968 labor strike. All C&H operations then were closed for good.
Mine Shaft 13 is the Headframe that was designed to raise and lower the skiffs underground. These skiffs would carry men down into the mine for their shifts and then bring ore to the top on massive rail systems. Still in good condition is the catwalk connecting the stairs on the skiff rails into the headframe. The mine operators would have to climb up the skiff rails and walk across the catwalk to enter the operations portion of the headframe. Also seen in this picture is a massive cylinder that comes down from the central portion of the Headframe. As the rail cars would come up, the skiffs loaded with ore the loads would be dumped down into this cylinder. The smaller cylinder on the front is called the "Poor Shute," in which bad or poor rock would be discharged and not processed any further.
Under the headframe are large openings for railcars to come under and collect the ore that would fall through the cylinders. The loading chutes were pivotal in the transportation of copper ore pulled up from the mine shaft. During operation it would be common to see rail cars loading ore and moving it along.
It is amazing to walk around the mine and realize the entire operation runs on wheels and tracks. Tram cars were used to carry copper ore, batteries, equipment, and much more. Seen in the pictures below are a series of different types of cars.
The Mine Hoist House was the brain area of the mine operation. A mine hoist operator was in control here of all the cables and skiffs. It was actually illegal for miners to talk to the Hoist Operators because of the high risk of life and operations at stake. In one instance told by a local miner, the Hoist Operator was not paying attention, and the miners missed their exit and were heading to be dumped off into the Headframe where the rock was crushed. Luckily, the miner in the skiff hit an emergency bell that activated a brake override that saved the miner's feet from being crushed.
It takes so much iron. Everything that lays around this mine is accessible to walk around and get a close look. You will notice quickly it is all heavy!
Located near Calumet, Michigan. This is an open historical site there is not guest center.
Directions: Just off highway 41 before entering Calumet turn left on Church Street. The third street down is E Street and turn right here. The mine is located on E Street.