Apr 24-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: April: Apr 24-05
Old powder operation    ...scroll down to share comments
From the old Mining Gazette
Recycled sign    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Bill Haller

Charlie at Pasty Central on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:10 am:

If you travel out beyond Dollar Bay, beyond Point Mills - just across the water from Dreamland - you eventually come to Senter, home of the Atlas Powder Company in the early 1900's. It was named after John Senter, a successful merchant in the Copper Country in the 1800's boom. Looks like the Atlas Powder folks were afraid something might go 'boom' if you weren't careful with 'fire producing devices', as seen in the Mining Gazette article from a few decades ago.

Bill Haller points out more recently, if you look closely at the second photo, you can see that "Holiday Ranch" was painted over the old Atlas Powder sign.

I did a search on the Internet this morning - of a number of Keweenaw informational websites - and could not find any mention of 'Senter' - except for several references right here in the Pasty Cam archives. Perhaps a few of our regular visitors can recall some memories about the powder plant.

We hear it's snowing downstate this morning, but here along Lake Superior's shore it's just cold, partly cloudy and dry so far. Looks like winter may not want to give up just yet.

Have a good week :o)

By Leslie from Cadillac on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:24 am:

Good Morning from the Northern Lights Lodge. It is snowing here too. We have a couple of inches. The poor little morels are going to have to put on their winter coats!

By copper country resident on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:35 am:

Any residents from Dollar Bay work at Atlas Powder who would like to share their stories with
Pasty Cam audience? Just curious.

By copper country resident on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:36 am:

Holiday Ranch? I would assume a riding stable for horses?

By Joan in Tampa on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:50 am:

According to "Michigan Place Names", Senter was formed around the E.I. duPont de Nemours Powder Company. Thomas Hicholas became the first postmaster in April 1910.

By Julie Beck on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:53 am:

The Holiday Ranch was a riding stable owned by Helen Smith. Lots of people went riding there years ago, including me.

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:12 am:

Mornin', E.I. duPont had a factory across the bay from Ashland years ago.

By Steve,WI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:35 am:

Is the old office building still around?

By Liz, Idaho on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:50 am:

The day after our '66 high school graduation a bunch of us went riding @ Holiday. I'd forgotten all about that until the picture appeared!

By Mary Lou on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:07 am:

Our family cottage was directly across Portage Lake from the "black sands"... and the Atlas Powder Co........Nothing would grow on the sand and there were no cottages,however, about 10 years ago a cottage went up on the sand. I remember a story about a large rooming house in that location. I would guess the powder company at Senter supplied powder for the Quincy and other mines in the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s.

By Carolyn Spoehr, AZ on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:17 am:

I remember Holiday Ranch. I didn't go riding there but we went on hay sleigh rides for our 4-H club a few times. I didn't ride there because I had my own horse. Ann Olson and Lila Hobmeir were our 4-H leaders out at Ann's farm in Bootjack.

By Beth, Saginaw on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:27 am:

It is snowing here in Saginaw - my tulips and other flowers are all snow covered. Pretty frosty. The forcest is for snow all day and into tomorrow. We are under a winter storm warning - but I imagine it is nothing compared to what a winter storm can be on the banks of the Big Lake.

By painterontheprarie on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:32 am:

Although illegal now,using dynamite to catch
fish was once accepted and still is used in parts of the Phillipines, Indonesia, etc...
When fishing was slow on Portage lake my late
great uncle would look longingly towards the black sands and wish for a "duPont spinner"
as he called it.

By Paul in Illinois on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:09 am:

The "powder" plant at Senter was built as a joint venture between Calumet & Hecla and E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. It was a replacment of the old Hancock Chemical Co. Plant at Woodside which C&H gained control of along with all the other Clarke, Bigelow , & Lewishon properties in the Copper Country. The Woodside plant did not have enough capacity to supply all of the C&H mines. Woodside also was too close to populated areas and had a nasty habit of blowing up fairly regularly. C&H knew it didn't have the expertise needed to make dynamite and partnered up with DuPont - the leading explosives manufacturer in the US to build a new modern plant. Shortly after the plant at Senter was built, DuPont was forced to divest part of its explosives businesses due to anti-trust issues. Senter was spun off to the new Atlas Co., the Ispeming plant went to Hercules, and DuPont kept the plant at Barksdale, Wisconsin.
Miners did not like nitro glycerine or anything connected with it. Dynamite contains nitro glycerine - the use of the term "powder" was a marketing ploy to make the new high explosives more palatable to the miners who were more comfortable with black powder.
Atlas and Hercules companies were headquarted in Wilmington, Deleware and the BOD's of the three (Atlas, DuPont, and Hercules) had basically the same members for awhile - DuPont didn't spin them that far away.
Despite the Atlas name, the plant at Senter had many DuPont traits. DuPont was and still is obcessed with safety due to the fact that several DuPont family members were blown up in the early days. Therefore they required plant managers of explosives plants to live (with their families) on the site. The plant manager also had to personally resart any process or unit that had a mishap. This instilled a very personal interest in safe operations.

By Sherri, Da UP on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:25 am:

Just wondering, is there a way to take the paint off the sign, and be able to restore the old sign?
Hope everybody downstate is enjoying the snow :)

By RJW - WaMe on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:29 am:

There should be many stories from this place. Of course many of the workers have passed on. Toward the end of the operation of Atlas or DuPont they had an explosion in the nitro house.

The Atlas whistle would blow at noon every day and the last day of operation they blew the whistle for about 5 minutes or longer. The last day a sad day for many. Fran from Georgia's brother-in-law Ken worked here

By paul from Mason mi on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:40 am:

thank you paul from illinois - i've been in the copper country 37 years and never heard of an explosives plant at Woodside

By Dave, Tennessee on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:43 am:

I have been waiting for this to show up on a Shoebox Sunday.Thank You Bill.I will be glued all day to this chair,but that's ok cause it's cold down here.I yoosta be from Dollar Bay,went riding at Holiday Ranch and went to school with the Smith's back around late 60's.My Dad "Fatso" was his nickname picked many a pail of big juicy blueberries in those woods you see,and i have seen both of those signs with my own eyes.

By pastycam reader on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:44 am:

Great comments today about the topic at hand.
Very interesting to hear about the history of these small towns!

By John P on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:47 am:

John P re-search on Senter. another search engine I have on this thing, came up with Senter in 1918. Came from CRH, Copper Range Railroad.

By John P on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 11:58 am:

John P again,,Forgot to include URL for Atlas

Sorry-John P

By John Van Dyke on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:04 pm:

The "Falls" in Eagle River are realy a dam made by Atlas (or another powder company)for their explosves plant that was just to the left of the dam as you look up stream. The dam provided power for the small explosives plant. In the early 60's the remains of the stone manufactureing building were still there. At that time, the remains of the raceway (?) on the left side of the dam still stood.

By Doug-WI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:16 pm:

My great grandfather, John Condon, worked for Atlas Powder in the early 1900's. I am afraid I do not have much more information than that. I appreciate the information already posted and look forward to reading additional posts today.
(Sorry, I meant to post this here rather than in the What's Up. I goofed.)

By Mary Lou on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:17 pm:

John Van Dyke......Wasn't the plant at the falls in Eagle River...... a wooden match company??...A friend of mine, an elderly woman I met many years ago told me her family was involved in a match company at the Eagle River Falls...her mane was Alice Uren.

By Paul in Illinois on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:31 pm:

The Factory at Eagle River was a fuse factory. They were operating up until sometime in the 1950's when a fire destroyed the place. I believe the Blight Family of Eagle River were the last owners, Eagle River resident Frank Long worked there until the end.
One story about that place is about two sled loads of black powder blowing up on the road down from Phoenix. The teamsters picked up the loads from the Keweenaw Central so that would put the time frame as sometime between 1906 and 1918. No survivors so no one knows exactly what happened other than team, sleds, and drivers were blown away.

By ed/mi on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:48 pm:

I can remember in the mid 1950-s some of the youngsters from Bootjack "appropriated" a door mat from the Senter area that contained Nitroglycerine and were questioned by Johnny Law...dont know the outcome of the case and will not reveal names either.

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:53 pm:

John P., your link to michiganrailroads.com reminded me of one local site I failed to check this morning: copperrange.org. A google search for "site:copperrange.org senter" came up with 3 links. The map on one of the links shows the location of Senter, which is in the red rectangle below.


By Fran,Ga on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:58 pm:

RJW,are you sure my bro-in-law Ken worked for Atlas? I don't remember him working there.Fill me in on what you know. He did work for the CC Cheese Factory tho.

My husband did work for Atlas tho. He started with the company in Wilmington and worked at various plants thru the years. He came to Senter in 58 and was there to close it up. It was an extremely sad time for all.Hal said that the guys that worked there were all nice guys. After it closed he was sent back several times to dispose of things and then again when they burned the dynamite buildings. He ended up here in Chatt at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant. Retired from there in 89 after 37 yrs with the Co.

By billhaller@pasty.com on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 02:21 pm:

As Senter is nearing a Centenial in 2010, it would seem timely to compile a history of the people and the industry. I am trying to chronicle as much data as possible.

Thanks to so many people for sharing their memories, photos, clippings, and recollections. I'd be happy to send 20 pages of notes thus far collected (in Word format) to anyone interested, and would appreciate any additions, or ammendments.

I have so far collected ninty some odd employee names(in Excel format), on yet another list, and would wecome any additions and or corrections here also.

Thanks to Pasty, and all the the readers for their assistance.

By billhaller@pasty.com on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 02:39 pm:

Here is a recent picture of the Atlas Powder stables constructed in 1910. This, yet today, handsome masonry structure contains twelve individual stalls and mangers. The hay was dropped down through a "framed in" box in the center ceiling of the loft.

This was I'm told, the basis for the Holiday Stables; it too being recycled in the sixties.


By Dave, Dearborn, MI. on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 02:48 pm:

Sherri, It might be possible for someone with historic conservation skills to get back to the original paint, but it might also be just as practical to recreate the sign from what appears to be shadows of it showing through the more recent work. Still snowing here in Dearborn(Detroit area) as of about 2:50P.M. At least several inches(2-3) on the ground now!

By billhaller@pasty.com on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 03:15 pm:

Steve, WI

Yes, the office is still standing.

Here is an April picture of the front, which faced the COPR rail spur, not the back, that we see today from the (later-day) County road.


By Gus LL on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 03:37 pm:

I believe Mrs. Smith of the Holiday Ranch also sold Raider Snowmobiles in the 70's. They were a twin track machine with side by side seating.
Does anyone remember this?. Maybe she was connected with Smith's service of Hancock? They sold snowmobiles at one time.

By billhaller@pasty.com on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:20 pm:

Thank goodness, the I.S. person just returned.

Here, is the front view of the Atlas office;


By Bill, Lewes,DE on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:26 pm:

I was thrilled to see today's Pasty Cam! My grandfather (and named sake) was the superintendent at Senter from about 1913 to sometime in the late 30's or early 40's. He died when I was only 3 and there are no family records or pictures of the plant. I did find a porcelain on metal sign in a Hancock antique store years ago that I'm sure came from the Senter plant with the same message as in the pasty cam shot. It now hangs in my home in Eagle Harbor Township. I'd like to correspond with anyone that has other pictures, memorabilia or stories of Senter. Thanks!!

By ts on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:36 pm:

condon--was one of the twins from eagle river your granpa?one played football for calumet high early 50s--gordon---rode a scooter to get back and forth to home--no late buss

By David Reckinger, austin, Tx. on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:43 pm:

I want to thank everyone involved here for the history of the UP. I'm from Michigan and loved finding this site, and pasties. You-all keep up the good work, I'll be checking in often. Maybe at some point I can help with more that just a "way to go".

By Fran,Ga on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:44 pm:

My husband said his office had the window on the right. Jerry Mc Causlin's(deceased) office was in back of him. Hal said the there was a large room on the L of the door. Manilla Gipp(Laurium),Grace Nye,Charlie Hall and Bill Rauhio(at one time)all worked in there. He said while he was there were many old papers and documents from when the plant was first built up in the attic.However when the plant closed they were all sent to Wilmington,De.

By darrell oinas/Saint Johns Michigan on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 04:48 pm:

found a interisting site that is a catalog of what they sold. http://www.caltelephone.com/lamps/explosives.htm

By Pam, Fruitport on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 05:12 pm:

WOW! This is just amazing! Revival, Restoration, Renewal, Creation and Re-creation... only in the U.P. and especially in the Keweenaw! Just fascinating, fantastic and fabulous!!! I know where Dreamland is and all this info being gathered about Senter via the net especially Pasty.net IS truly Amazing!!!! Thanks Everyone!!!
Woke up to snow over all flowers and plants... melted now the sun is coming out from the WEST! Thank God! To help warm up all the flowers and plants....Very, Very windy though...

By Russ E. St. Clair county MI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 06:09 pm:

Woodside?? OK FWIW, a few contributions, but more questions! As a boy growing up in Woodside for a time in the 40s, I remember my brother, cousins and I with my Uncle Jim (maybe RCW was there too?) at the old Atlas ruins a time or 2 digging around the remains? Can't remember exactly where it was. Someone help please! I'm sure we were there at sometime! Didn't I remember my Grandfather and Grandmother L. telling of when it blew up? hmmm! This jogged my brain and now I'm wondering! Never was over at Senter tho.

Ankle deep snow here in St. Clair county right now! We are/were supposed to get 10 inches by late tonight. As I type this it is coming down "white out" with huge flakes. Temps in the low 30s! Don't remember having this intense of a winter storm ever this late down here! Got to keep the bird feeders filled, the poor things are desperate! Had 80 degree days already and were about to put in our garden! Tree limbs creaking under the weight of it all!

"No Winter Lasts Forever"
"No Spring Skips its Turn"
(old Finnish proverb)-------Yeah Right!

By Doug -WI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 06:14 pm:

ts - We don't have any information on whether we're connected to the Condon twins that you remember. My great grandfather John was born in 1862. He had 5 brothers. The twins could be descended from one of them. I called my mother about this. She remembers hearing about twins somewhere in the family, but did not know them. Sorry.

By RJW - WaMe on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:04 pm:

Fran, Maybe my memory is failing me. Ken Stevens of Woodside worked there when it closed and if my memory serves me right Harry Nye worked there as well as his sister. My uncle Ralph W of woodside worked there in the boiler room. It would be interesting to see the history that the other person mentioned earlier in these comments. Some of the persons I remember working there are Waldo Backman, he made wooden shovels for the powder room because other shovel would make sparks. Leo Sved, a Mr. Silbisky from Hurontown or Houghton, Mr. Neher(Pasty's father)took care of the horses in the horse barn mentioned,a Mr. McDonald, who went to White Pine for a while working for Atlas, Bill Weubben till he passed away from a sudden heart attack, Mr. Bieswienger, who also died of a sudden heart attach
I did work with Ken at the CC Dairy.

By RJW - WaMe on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:10 pm:

There were a couple of Lassilas from Point Mills that worked there also. Some other names may come to me but I bet RCW's father Chet could give us plenty of names of Atlas employees.

By John Van Dyke on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:15 pm:

I stand corrected, it was a fuse factory in Eagle River.

By Pat, Mich. on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:16 pm:

To RJW: I was called Patsy then. No one called me Pasty.

By billhaller@pasty.com on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:22 pm:

RJW - WaMe

Would you please email me so I may ask you some historical questions regarding Atlas in Senter.

By Bob G. Houghton Lake, MI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:30 pm:

Just checking in/avoiding homework.:)
Been snowing here in Houghton Lake pretty constantly since yesterday. Only accumulated during the evening last night to about 1-2" deep, been melting off again all day despite the continued snow.

Regarding today's pic, one of the books in my personal library is "Michigan Ghost Towns of the Upper Peninsula" by R.L. Dodge and it has the following entry for Senter on page 145:
Senter-1915, population 40. On the Copper Range Railroad, Portage Township. James P. Hanley, Postmaster, and the Atlas Powder Company.

It's not the shortest entry in the book, but it is darn short!:)

Waiting for my next UP adventure sometime this summer
Bob G.

By Fran,Ga on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:32 pm:

Russ,It seems like I remember someone telling me that it was located on the strip of land between the Highway and Woodside road(towards Mason) Does anyone know for sure?

By Ron, Michigan on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:33 pm:

Dave Reckinger from Austin Tx.: Where did you live in Michigan?

By RCW on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:37 pm:

Russ & Fran. As I recall it was just before the Goose Neck bridge heading east on the Woodside road. Several houses are located there now.

By Fran,Ga on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:47 pm:

RJW, I remember your Uncle R,all of us young girls thought he was a "hunk" We were young teens and he was older. Who was your father?You did know that Ken A passed away last April?

This sure was an interesting topic today.

By Shirley, Downstate Michigan on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:55 pm:

My uncle, Mervin Sastamoinen, worked at the Atlas Power Plant. I believe it was during the '50's. He still lives in Dollar Bay.

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:03 pm:

Was there a reason for the building/establishing the old Atlas Powder there in the Keeweenaw? I think I missed that part of the story.

By Bruce, MO on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:21 pm:

My aunt, who passed away earlier this year, worked in the office of the Atlas plant at Senter. If I understand correctly, she transferred to an Atlas office in Chicago in 1948, when the Senter plant was closed.

By Jim Copper Country on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:44 pm:

Gus LL....you recall correctly...there was a Raider "dealership" at Senter in the 1970s; I remember going out there once for a demo openhouse type of thing re the Raider (to me, not a good design....sitting IN the snow machine, you'd quickly get a lapful of snow); I don't think the Raider or the Senter dealership endured very long.

Also catching my eye on today's posts....a projected rr line beyond Mandan to the mouth of the Montreal River area (??)....the Keweenaw Central lines on the Copper Range RR map....any information available on THAT (proposed line) from you railfans out there?

By pastycam reader on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:45 pm:

The chats today were very interesting & informative. I'm turning in for the night, Good Night everyone, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite.

By Russ E. St. Clair county MI on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:51 pm:

Margaret in Amarillo: If you mean in general why they were there/what was their business? They supplied blasting powders for the Copper mines. Close proximity to the mines!

By Lansing, Mich on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 12:59 am:

My brother Marvin DuLong worked there but don't have much as I said it for the first time when my nephew Bob Andrews took us there. but Marvin his Children Paul or Daniel would probaly know or his wife Joan

By FRNash/PHX, AZ on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:28 am:

For what it's worth, this map seems consistent with the Copper Range oldie that Charlie posted above, although it doesn't seem to be "on the strip of land between the Highway and Woodside road", or "just before the Goose Neck bridge heading east on the Woodside road". (where is Woodside road & Goose Neck Bridge? I can't find either of them!) Although I certainly was at da Tech before and after the Senter Plant was dismantled in December, 1960, I must admit that I've never set foot in the Point Mills neighborhood."

Senter Map

By Bob Brown, Alabama on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:29 am:

I remember Chester Smith who was an engineer at the Senter plant and lived on College Ave in East Houghton. He was originally from Delaware and married his wife, Evadne, in Chattaganooga when he was working there. Imagine the shock of moving from Chattanooga to Houghton. Chester was a small man who bowled in several leagues. He had a very wicked hook. He took up golf after the plant closed and became quite good for his age. He also drove big Packard cars. they would be worth a lot today as he kept them in mint condition.

By Dave of Mohawk on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:32 am:

I see that the photo was taken by Earl Gagnon of the Daily Mining Gazette; what a local historian and great photographer. I had the honor of working with Mr. Gagnon for several years back in the 70's, may he rest in peace.

By RCW on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 06:38 am:

FRNASH. on the above map look for the 26 sign just above Dollar Bay and you will see a rather short yellow line , thats the Woodside Road, the bolder blue line snaking down would be Gooseneck Creek.

By RJW - WaMe on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 07:37 am:

Sorry about that Pat. I guess I didn't proof read my post. Bob that is a very detailed map as I see they have the roads that go up to the Quincy tracks from Woodside on it. Another name of people that worked at Atlas was Ted Swed.

By D Masnado, Fremont Ohio on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:45 am:

FR Nash .......that map section you posted with the Senter location is better than the outdated topo maps I have of the Copper Country areas. Looks like it doesn't show topo elevations [except lines], but it does show other interesting detail. Where did you obtain this?

My dad worked in the C&H mines for many years and shot a lot of the powder probably made there at Senter. As a kid I remember at one time having a wooden box of Atlas dynamite in the basement of our house. It was NOT an empty box either even though these were always good boxes used for kindling to start the fires in the stove. Boy how times have changed.

By Mary Lou on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:49 am:

Apparently the "black sands" at Point Mills (at the left of Senter) were not a result of the process in making the powder.......so were they from a reclaimation project in Portage Lake???....was it a Quincy mine reclaimation??

By Sue Stevens McDaniel, MI on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:59 am:

I spent the first eight or so years of my life growing up in Senter. My dad, Ken Stevens, worked at the plant and my mom, Margaret (Ewen) Stevens worked in the office. Others who lived in Senter and worked at the plant that I recall included Mervin Sastamoinen, Joe Neher, Joe McDonald and Mr Beiswanger. Joe McDonald and my dad transfered to White Pine to work for Atlas after the Senter plant closed.
I can remember all us kids running to the railroad tracks by Neher's house to greet the incoming trains and enjoy the hard candies the engineers would throw to us. We would also sneak under the fence to play in the old stable. It was a great place to be a kid!
I also recall going riding at the Holiday Ranch in the 60s.

By Larry R.Augusta,GA on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:21 am:

I remember riding minibikes along the roads of this old powder plant. Also remember being told about the terrible headaches experienced by Atlas employees due to the nitro exposure. I found some old cork type boots in of the buildings. Presume this was to prevent sparks from any metal in workboots.

By Maggie, Minnesota on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:53 am:

I can remember visiting the Smith's when I was a child. My grandparents rented the house across the street (Ruby, I think) from the time that my mom was 7 until she graduated from high school. She went to school with the Smith kids. I can remember her talking about Mr. Smith taking a train out to work at the Atlas Powder Co. Mrs. Smith used to take in boarders, Tech students, I believe.

By SDC, Ferndale, MI on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 12:30 pm:

I remember riding at the Holiday Ranch. My 2 sisters and brother went there. My sister Pam told Mrs. Smith to give me a gentle pony to ride. I ended up on Grumpy who kept heading back to the stable. That was it for me and riding!

Nice memories. I remember my dad talking about Atlas but I don't believe he worked there. He worked for CC Cheese and the wire mill in the late 50's, early 60's.

By Jennifer, KY on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 12:44 pm:

My father, Frank Slawinski, and my grandfather, Floyd Hartman, worked at the Senter plant in the 50's. My father was transferred to the Reynolds plant in the 1958-1960 range. My father retired from Atlas in the 90's at the Joplin plant.
It would be interesting to see if my father has some pictures of the Senter plant, I'll ask him this weekend.

By Char on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:24 pm:

My stepfather, Bernard LaBelle, pushed the "Angel buggy" (nitro cart) at the Atlas Powder plant. He was thrilled to see the picture from the pasty cam that I printed off for him. Every so often I hear stories of his work at that plant.

By RCW on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:40 pm:

SDC I wonder who your Dad might be. I worked at the wire mill for 5 years catching hot wire.

By Bill Haller on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:53 pm:


I the guy trying to chronicle Atlas and Senter.

Could you email, or call me 906-289-4713. I'd love to speak with you.


By FRNash/PHX, AZ on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:07 pm:

Thanks for the tip on Woodside Road & Gooseneck Creek... I presume that would be the same as "Woodside Ln" on this view? Maybe that's why I couldn't find it...

Woodside Rd/Woodside Ln

By Bill Haller on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:28 pm:


May I inquire as to who's map software that is? Sure beats the heck out of my Mapquest.

By Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:39 pm:

Someone mentioned having a wooden box of dynamite in their basement as a kid. It just so happens I have an end of one of those boxes hanging right here in my office! Neat artifact...

Atlas box

By Mr. Bill on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 06:33 pm:

Wow, that's a nice one Mary; crisp stenciling!

Where did you find it? We found some lesser ones at an antiques shop in Crystal Falls.

By RCW on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 06:34 pm:

Gee what happened to my reply to FRNASH that I posted about an hour ago????? I repeat I sure would like to know where to get that map also.Seems Marys photo replaced it!!

By SDC, Ferndale, MI on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 06:42 pm:

Answer to your question who my dad was. I also posted a message earlier and I don't see it so here is my answer again. My dad was Stuart Seppala. We lived on my great grandparent's farm off the main highway (old Alcenius farm) near Mattie Mattson's old farm. Lived up there 9 years then moved back to Royal Oak in '65. My dad got work at Ford Motor Company. My brother and 2 sisters and myself attended Dollar Bay school. Sure do miss those days.

By RCW on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 06:47 pm:

Regarding my previous post Mary, I bet when I previewed it I failed to enter it SORRY BOUT THAT. OK SDC thanks, sure I knew your Dad, however I don't beleive we worked at the mill at the same time. Been many years gone by since I can recall seeing him.

By Paul in Illinois on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:20 pm:

Mary Lou, the black sands you mentioned are plain ole' stamp sand. Point Mills was the site of the Arcadian Stamp Mill built in 1899 and the Franklin Mill built in 1901. Arcadian went out of business fast. Franklin lasted until the '30's.
In regards to the headaches while working with nitro. Nitro gylcerine was invented by an Italian Doctor in 1847. By 1858 it was used to treat angina pectoris - and continues to be used, nitro glycerine dilates blood vessels. Nobel didn't invent it, he commercialized it as an explosive. The explosive side effects were noticed early on when the medicine detonated in various Doctor's offices and Pharmacies - much to the dismay of the hapless patients. That leads to two questions: 1. What lead a Doctor to concoct nitro glycerine? and 2. How many malpractice suits would there have been if they had the present day legal system?

By Dave, Tennessee on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:38 pm:

When i posted earlier i knew this was going to get very interesting! It sure did.Thanks to all who gave info,and i'am sure there will be more to come for quite sometime.Ya know i'll be checking back to this one every day.

By RCW on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:00 pm:

Bill I'll give you an E mail tomrrow OK.

By Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:49 pm:

Mr. Bill,
My hubby picked it up somewhere, I'm not certain where and we have it displayed because his Grandfather August Kempeinen worked during the construction phase of the buildings. Neat remembrance of him. Also, my hubby stained it to give a nice sheen.

By Bob G. Houghton Lake, MI on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:19 pm:

Bill Haller asked what map program the maps are from. It is Topo USA from Delorme. I have the same program and it is really, really nice.

By Ron Sibilsky--Michigan on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 09:15 am:


you are correct about a Mr. Sibilsky working at Atlas Powder in Senter. My uncle Carlos Sibilsky worked there until the plant closed. He also lived in Hurontown at that time.

By Mary Lou on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 09:28 am:

Paul in Illinois..Thank you for the information regarding the "black sands". I knew C&H had a reclaimation plant in the 50's at the Lake Linden complex just down the lake. I had no idea there were stamp mills in the Point Mills area. My father bought the property across the Lake in 1947 and I sold it two years ago.......I often wondered where that "black sand" came from. Mr Benedict, who I believe was an early President of C&H, had his cottage adjacent to the black sands, toward Senter .......( I am guessing that if C&H owned Atlas Powder that their property extnded to that point on Portage Lake).

By SDC, Ferndale, MI on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:55 am:

I think the last time my dad was in the UP was back in 1990 then he had some health problems and didn't travel. Sadly, he passed away in Nov. of '97 and my mom Jan. '02. My mom was friends with your mother and we visited your parents camp in Bootjack when we were kids, swimming in the summertime. Nice memories.

Thank you.

By RCW on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:27 pm:

Oh sure I can recall that. We still have the place in Bootjack and do spend the summers there. Things havn't changed much. Thanks for the info.

By jj greenbay on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 02:05 pm:

My father worked for Atlas Powder Co. in the late 40's I believe. He was responsible for what he called "capping" the sticks. I know of 2 other men who also worked there with him.
The Holiday ranch was where I rode a horse for the first time and I remember I lost my wallet on the ride.

By Dave Hiltunen In the Smoky's TN. on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 02:33 pm:

SDC: RCW is my cousin.My dad & his mom were brother & sister.I can recall all of you from when we were kid's, & thought we were related.

By Bill Haller on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:03 pm:

jj green bay

The only employee we found thus far who's last name started with a "J", is Victor Johnson; is this your father's name?

If not, I'd love to add yet another new name; we're up to 124 so far thanks to Pasty Cam'ers.

By jj green bay on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:06 pm:

my father's name is Matt Jukkala, I do not know the exact years he was there, but I believe it was the late 40's or early 50's. I could find out for sure. Another buddy of his who also worked there was a man by the last name of Hahka, who still lives in Coburntown.

By SDC,Ferndale, MI on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 04:24 pm:

Dave Hiltunen in the Smokey's TN:
I recall something like that as my mom was good friends with RCW's family and sister Martha. Perhaps you remember my brother Gary from DBHS or sisters Pam and Karen? I was in grade school so there are lots I don't remember. And as I get older, things fade in and out!

By Bill Haller on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 06:05 pm:

jj green bay,

We are trying to chronicle the history of Atlas at Senter, so any data you can furnish will hopefully be saved.


By Bernie Gestel on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:29 pm:

I worked at Atlas Powder in the 50's, mostly on the "powder line". This consisted of packing the bulk dynamite into sticks. Most of the dynamite was produced for U. P. copper or iron mines. I helped load the first load of dynamite-8000 lbs- that was shipped by rail to the White Pine Copper Co. There was a major explosion involving the building where nitroglycerin was produced. (Nov. i95- ?) The plant was thus out of operation for about 6 months. My job didn't last too long after being called back to work. One thing I didn't miss was the powder headaches! The end of Atlas Powder operations came as the result of the mines switching to fertilizer/fuel oil for their blasting explosives. Some of the men I remember working were Waldo Backman, Ted Sved, Ralph Engman, Vic Johnson, Dan Anderson, Dan Rozman. Bob Roth, Ken Stevens, John Micklitch, and Bob Roth.

By Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 09:01 pm:

These two maps were just supplied to me for posting here. They're panoramic views from a 1913 map of the Keweenaw, showing a different perspective of the Senter area and also a closeup of the Atlas Powder Mill.

Senter area

Atlas closeup

Thanks, Ed!

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 10:06 am:


Due to overwhelming interest, the MTU Archives has arranged an encore for Bill Haller's presentation on the history of the Atlas Powder Company and their explosives plant near Dollar Bay.

The encore presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. The presentation will be given in room U115 in the M&M Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

The new venue can seat many more than the Archives Reading Room, so space shouldn't be a problem this time around. In addition, the new venue has a full media system with microphones, speakers and multiple screens positioned around the room.
The Atlas Powder Company produced dynamite and nitroglycerine for local copper mines at its plant in Senter, Michigan, from 1910 to 1960. Haller, a local historian who has been researching the Atlas story for the past two years, has collected an extensive range of historical photographs relating to the site. His presentation also draws upon numerous interviews with local residents and former employees at the explosives plant.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

For further information contact the MTU Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Saturday, April 24, 2010 - 07:58 am:

This is 1 of the more informative postings. Pictures, maps, links, and information in the postings. Thanks 4 sharing, everybody.

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