Nov 26-06

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2006: November: Nov 26-06
Blast at Woodside    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos from Bill Haller

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 09:12 am:

Keweenaw's Chemical Historian Bill Haller has enlightened us in the past regarding the Atlas Powder Company at Senter. Did you know there was another explosives plant only four miles away? Hancock Chemical located at Woodside was in operation from 1884 - 1911, providing the mining effort with a source of blasting material. Tragically in November of 1887 this hazardous occupation proved fatal for 6 area residents, 5 of which were teenagers. Bill's album devoted to Hancock Chemical gives some details of that troubled, historic enterprise.

Here at Pasty Central we share a unique connection to the copper mining era. Thankfully our occupation is a lot less hazardous, as we produce an increasing volume of the copper miner's favorite food. And this time of year our staff is especially busy preparing for the holidays, when pasties are the favorite gift of so many current and former Upper Michigan residents. By the way, Pasty Central is mentioned in a couple of current midwest publications this month, which you may have seen in Lake Superior Magazine and Traverse Magazine.

Be careful in all of your holiday travels. As I prepared today's Shoebox Memory I was reminded of that old slogan we don't hear much these days: Bring 'em back alive.

Have a good week :o)
Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 09:15 am:

Saw the one in Lake Superior magazine, Charlie.

Sad about the teenagers caught in the blast. Any idea why they were there? Did they work there?

By william wright mattingly (Wrightmattingly) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 10:34 am:

Where, is all the snow. the ground should have a foot at lest.

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 11:59 am:

Deb S.,
Back in those days, education beyond 8th grade was not considered a necessity. Many families sent their boys 13-14 years old out into the work force. My Great-grandfather started working underground about that age.
Packing houses at a dynamite plant were not quite what we think of today. Rather than placing sticks of dynamite in a box, packing really was stuffing the loose dynamite pulp/paste into the waterproofed cardboard tubes that made a "stick" of dynamite. Best case, one survived and went home everyday with a "nitro" headache, worst case was what happened at Woodside.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 12:05 pm:

Paul, Oh my gosh, that's awful!! Thank you for the history lesson. I had no idea they sent young kids out to do that stuff. I knew that most of them didn't finish school, cuz my grandparents didn't, but to have to go out and do that at that age is terrible. I guess a "nitro" headache would have been bad enough. Those poor parents! So sad!

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 12:34 pm:

Paul, my father talked of walking to the Quincy reclimation plant to work in the Mason Location at the age of 13. The next year he "transferred" to the C & H smelter in Hubbell where we all grew up.

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 12:46 pm:

Thank you, Bill, for the most interesting history, and great pictures in your gallery.

Ironically, yesterday two 15-year-olds in Maine exploded two acid bombs in a Walmart full of people. They had planted other bombs as well, which didn't explode. (no critical injuries at the Walmart)

I only know of the early history of the Keweenaw through stories, and realize we may have a romantasized view of the times. (all those lovely homes!) But where is our world now?!

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 02:14 pm:

In Quincy Mine, as in other mines in the Keweenaw, a young boy could start working underground at age 12 as a drillboy. Most likely, he was the son of a miner. If you go on the tour, the guides should tell you about the life of a drillboy. However, I can share that part of the tour here since I worked on the tours ;-)

When a miner's son turned 12, he was pulled out of school and worked underground as a drillboy. His job was to deliver goods on a utility cart to his relation who worked at a drill face as a mining team. These goods would have included drills, drill steels, hammers/chisels, black powder, rails, etc... For the next 5-6 years, this was his job. However, during those years he was also being taught by his father how to drill, blast, and identify the copper-bearing rock so that when he turned 18, he would be experienced enough to either join his fathers team, or maybe his uncles or older brothers team.

This was a tradition carried on from other mining areas to the Keweenaw, and provided job security for the young men. Plus, since it was your son you were training, you knew you could trust him underground working high in a stope or drifting a level out from the shaft with the team.

By Ray Laakaniemi (Rlaakan) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 02:16 pm:

Let me try again. Working in the mines at a young age was not unusual. When my dad applied for work, they asked how old he was. He said 16 but he was 14. They did not check. He worked 46 years in the copper and iron mines -- and retired at age 60 -- bless his soul.

By Mr. Bill (Mrbill) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 02:18 pm:

At the time, the Mining Gazette received a lot of local resentment over their coverage of the explosion.

It seems as though they greatly detailed the damage to the plant and the costs of reconstruction, but made no mention whatsoever of any deaths.

By Gonna be a Yooper (Joanie) on Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 05:06 pm:

Never told you guys that I live close to: Coal City, Carbon Hill and Diamond. This is also old mining country. Some was done by strip mining and some was done by underground mining. To make a long story short, thanks to the strip mining, we now have beautiful lakes that are the color of teal blue. The town of Diamond lost miners due to a cave-in and there is a monument put up for them. The town of Carbon Hill still has the humble homes standing that the miners lived in.
To be a coal miner has to be the roughest job in the world!
Didn't Poland just have a mine disaster?

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 12:00 am:

I spent much of my childhood growing up in Woodside! I had always heard the storys of this incident but have never seen these photos! Where along Woodside exactly did this happen? We must have played amongst the ruins at one time or another!
I wonder now if any of my relatives were involved in this? Would that be Gooseneck Creek in the second photo?

Several of my uncles worked in the mines back then at a young age!

By Roger Somero (Rsomero) on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 12:54 am:

Just visit Eagle River cemetery and read the tombstones-it is truly sad how young some were that were killed underground.

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