Dec 18-03

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2003: December: Dec 18-03
Near Beaufort Mine    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Joe Dase

Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 08:39 am:

The Beaufort Mine is near Three Lakes according to Joe Dase over in our Guest Gallery. Very reassuring to see this sign. It reduces the chance of stumbling upon, or worse yet, into the mine. This sure looks like a nice place to stroll along, enjoying the snow on the ground and the last few leaves on the trees, even if they are a bit dry. Only four days remain before winter is officially here!

By Steve the flying troll on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 09:01 am:

As beautiful as the U.P. is, I just booked my first vacation in years during February in the Floriday Keys. I have a hunch Key West will be a little different than KEE wanaw during that month. Take care....Miss da U.P.

By Sherry Chapman on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:07 am:

That's the first 'mine warning' sign I've seen in the UP, and I've been going up every year for many years.
Isn't there a little orange fence around a mine shaft - is it in Calumet? - where my husband told me a little girl fell down years ago?
I wonder, tho, if some of those signs actually attract some people to go exploring. Hope not!

By Ace Twin Cities MN on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 11:45 am:

Thanks for your site. Enjoyed visiting, keep it up. Great deal of envy here, you live in beautiful country, a beautiful life style - and you great people make it possible.

By ts MI on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 12:24 pm:

Sue Miller fell into No. 4 North Tamarack mine shaft in 1966--thats behind Red Jacket Shaft location--socker field--west pine st--the wire fence was broken--her and another boy(England)were picking strawberries there and went into the fenced off area--there was a hole on side the cap of cement where wood had decayed an she went to look down it falling in---we followed the fire trucks there when it happened--they made the hole bigger an slid a ladder in horizontilly into an under the cap shinging a light down ,but coulndnt see the girl---they said the shaft was also capped in 1932 at the 22nd level--No. 4 tamerack was over 4000 ft deep--straight shaft--there wasnt water in the shaft because of Oceola mine pumping-(there connected)they decided to lift off the cap with C@H"s crane but when lifting it the chain broke and the cap fell back down on the shaft hole an broke into pieces falling down on top of her--they brought in gunlacks 50 ton crane with a rescue bucket to ride doown into the shaft--but the broken cement knocked down timber and pipe when bouncing down side to side in the shaft--I worked with mine rescue guys at the mine I worked in -one said the shaft was so full of rotted timber blocking the shaft that it was holding water--they tried hoisting out timbers for couple weeks(more or less)then gave up---There a cyclone fence there now with a new cement cap--and a tombstone with her and her mothers name on it--she must have had her ashes put with her daughter

By Sharyn on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 02:43 pm:

ts - thank you for sharing that story. I knew about it all my life...but the stories one hears as a kid are often quite exaggerated and with little truth left. So sad.

By yoop on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 03:20 pm:

wasn't it RuthAnn Miller?

By ric on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 05:55 pm:

Yes....Ruth Ann Miller...just like Northern Exposure.....just a note...

By Dave Whitten, MI on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:08 pm:

ts, I was there that summer during the rescue attempts. My uncle Russ Nelson, recently retired from C and H at that time, was called in to help with the process. I wonder if you remember him.
It was an extremely sad event especially to see Ruth Ann's mother looking on from her front porch not far away. I visit the grave site every time I visit the area. The site has been recently cleaned up and repainted and looks quite nice and peaceful.

By ts on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:23 pm:

Didnt no russ nelson--but ray nelson from alleouz I think her an her mother lived up in the bowling alley on 5th street apartments

By darrell oinas/Saint Johns Michigan on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:24 pm:

I was 6 years old when that happened and I remember the area around the site with the chain link fence and there were flowers placed there, and every year thereafter, can you imagine the loss of a child by falling down an abandoned mine shaft, that should have never happened. All of us kids were warned to stay away from that area, I wonder how many sink holes are around that area and as everybody knows there are plenty of shafts all over calumet that one of theses days the same thing could happen again as there are plenty of wild strawberries around the outskirts of town and plenty of abandoned mine shafts right under the town. Thoses little strawberries are plenty sweet but it takes a lot of them to do anything with as they are so small as I know I picked a bunch of them as a kid myself.

By darrell oinas/Saint Johns Michigan on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:32 pm:

I would love to see a map of the shafts as they relate to the surface streets.

By DJ Whitten on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 07:15 pm:

ts, Your "Ray" sure sounds like my uncle Russell. He was one of the nine Nelson kids. (Those Swedes were not so much into birth control.) He did live in Alleouz and Grandma Nelson had a house on Pine Street in Calumet.

By Paul in Illinois on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 08:06 pm:

I was also up there on vaction when RuthAnn was lost. Very sad. The site still has a sad aura around it.
Darrell, the MTU Archives has several good surface maps and the Quincy has a Bureau of Mines map that shows all the underground workings in the Copper Country - you might be able to get one through the USGS. The USGS 7.5 minute Topo maps show some of the shaft locations.
Anyone hiking around a suspected mine site should alway be aware of where they are stepping. Even if the old holes have been capped or bulldozed, they have a nasty habit of reopening.

By Trish, WA, the Evergreen State on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 08:15 pm:

I too, vaguely remember the little girl falling into the
mine shaft. Since I was about her age, it really
frightened me. For more info on the abandoned mines,
see Tech's website on the Michigan Abandoned Mines
Inventory at

By Joey, Olympia Washington on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 12:02 am:

"Life's brief journey ended at this cold and lonely mine, but oh little Ruth Ann Miller it is now a cherished shrine"...

By Sherry Chapman on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 12:07 am:

Oh, what a sad story. Thank you for sharing it, ts. I will never look at that little orange fence the same again.
Thanks for the tips on walking near mine shafts, Paul. I'll have to show this page to my husband. He is always trying to do stuff like that.
Trish, thanks for the website info. Sounds good.

By Russ E. St. Clair county MI on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 01:33 am:

This all relates to, and reminds me of my recent Dec.05, 03 Cam-notes comments regards how we as kids in the 40s used to play everyday around the "cave-ins" with their flimsy fences. To think how easy it would have been to meet the same fate! We were lucky and didn't realize it!

By Leslie at the Northern Lights Lodge - Cadillac , Michigan on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 08:01 am:

What a sad story. It makes one reflect upon similiar stories of fate in other mining areas like Cornwall, England. My grandmother kept 1900's newpapers which were mailed to her by Cornish relatives. The papers were often peppered with mining accident information.

By Joe Dase MTU Mining Student on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 08:13 am:

This picture was taken at the Beaufort Mine, which is located near Three Lakes; this shaft is just off of Beaufort Rd. E. on private property. The mine operated until sometime around the 19-teens, if I remember right. They were mining a large Iron Sulfide vein (the environmental extremists would fight that tooth and nails today) using room and pillar mining. This area is very unstable the mine seems to move quite a bit, in fact there were areas where the ground would sink under my feet! Not a fun place to take a stroll if you don’t know what you are doing.

By Jack in CT on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 08:41 am:

That is such a sad story. I remember leaning over the fences around some of those old mines as a kid to see how far I could see down and my dad pulling me back by the scruff of my neck and telling me not to do that because the fence might not be far enough back to keep me safe.

By Brion Beauchene, WI on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 08:54 am:

My grandfather, Alfred Beauchene, was chief of the C&H fire dept at that time and was involved in that tragedy. He would tell us about trying to find her in the shaft and although he was always affected by the people hurt during his calls that one seemed to bother him the most.

By Connie - Colorado on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 11:34 am:

That is how REAL firemen are.

By ts on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 02:13 pm:

BRIAN I was there watching when your grampa climbed in on the ladder to shine down with his flashlight--was going to put his name in but my wife said not to put names

By guest on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 03:02 pm:

NO.1 tamarack mine right across the road from the county commision garage(tamarack swedtown road shortcut) is fenced but caved down about 30 feet(more or less)--not capped--calumet an hecla threw old junk cars down it in the late 60s--I no they took a blue 55 chrysler from across my house to throw in--evidently the cars down there are rusting and the grounds caveing--also a straight shaft that was used to pump all the tamarack mines water out

By ric on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 05:34 pm:

Unfortunately that is the case...unlike the mines farther up the Keweenaw, many of these had virtually VERTICAL shafts....making them truly dangerous even to those of us who are underground explorers. It would be nearly impossible, for instance, to fall far down the St Clair or Delaware shafts, because of the incline angle but the mines near Calumet to Quincy are especially steep underground...

It is sad indeed that Ruth Ann met this fate. It points out the lack of serious capping by those in charge of the C & H shafts. I have heard that there was a hope that they would reopen at some point so that was why they left them relatively uncapped but frankly that's a bit hard to believe.

Editor's note: There's one shaft that was capped just this past summer. Osceola Load, #17 Shaft in Calumet on the corner of Pine and US 41. You can see photos in this
Guest Gallery

By Paul in Illinois on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 07:44 pm:

The Tamarack, Tamarack Junior, and Red Jacket shafts around Calumet are vertical, the incline shafts along Mine Street (The Calumet Conglomerate) and Calumet Avenue, (the Osceola Lode)aren't real steep, both dip at 38 degrees. Quincy's shafts follow the 54 degree dip of the Pewabic Lode. South of the bridge, the Baltic Lode goes down at a 70 degree dip. The more nearly the vertical the shaft the harder it is to cap and stabilize and the worse it is to fall in one.
The vertical shafts were dangerous even while they were operating if one wasn't carefull. My Grandfather told a story about a Lander or laborer at the Red Jacket shafthouse. They were loading dynamite on to one of the cages between shifts. They failed to close the gate on the companion compartment, the guy walked into the shaft with a 50 pound box of dynamite in his arms. He fell 4900 ft. to his death. The dynamite? None of it detonated. Fresh, properly made dynamite is surprisingly stable.
A word of caution about the old mines in Keweenaw County, alot of the very old mines were after mass copper and, in general, the shafts sunk on fissure lodes were vertical. They may not thousands of feet deep like those around Calumet, but they are deeper than anyone wants to fall into.

By Joe Dase MTU Mining Student on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 08:29 am:

Actually the vertical shafts are about as bad to cap as an inclined shaft. The only real difference I know of is using harnesses when forming. For example #4 Northwestern was capped this fall and was a vertical shaft, a little smaller than C&H #17 but it actually ended up being a lot quicker because when all the back fill and the plug in the shaft failed it all went straight down, no clean up! A vertical shaft also takes less concrete and re-rod to cap usually because the only forces acting on them are the horizontal stress in the rocks around here, where in an inclined shaft you have both horizontal and vertical stresses.
Also wasn’t Allouez number 2 85 degrees or so near surface and then once it intersected the Kersarge its angle swallowed off? Im not sure what the dip of the Kersarge load was but from the capping job at North Kersarge #4 I would guess it at about 60 degrees?

By Mary Lou on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 11:54 am:

Paul in Illinois and Joe Dase MTU Mining Student......Can you tell us how many of these abandoned shafts exsist in the Keewenaw?? Are they ALL "capped" and "fenced"?? Who is responsible for the maintenace of these abandoned sites??.......I remember seeing an old mine at Fort Wilkens and children climbing on the short rail fence..I don't know what type of open-shaft it was but it frightened me....Thank you for the information!

By Joe Dase MTU Mining Student on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 07:43 pm:

Its anyone’s guess how many shafts there are in the Keweenaw, Hundreds. Not all of them are capped and fenced either and not all of their locations are known. I know of a few holes that the mine inspector probably doesn’t know about. One of them is timbered over and is totally camouflaged; it looks like you are walking on solid ground then you’re on timbers. Keweenaw County are owned by International Paper and they cap them as needed. Others are on state land and private property and those are the responsibility of the State and Land Owners. There is no legislation that says you have to secure the shaft though, snow fence is a legal means of barring access in Michigan, for example, as long as the person crosses a barrier the property owner is not legally responsible. Also fenced shafts usually are not capped many have junk dumped into them that is keeping the shaft closed, once a shaft is capped it is considered a permanent remediation and no fence is required legally. As for the mine at Fort Wilkens the kids shouldn’t have been climbing on the fence but kids will be kids, If I remember right most of the mines there are nothing more than old Native American copper pits.

Hope that helps!

By kristina prowdley/michigain on Thursday, December 9, 2004 - 08:20 am:

This story I heard from my aunt who is a girl scot leader I am 14 and attend school and I am wanting to no more about lil ruthann miller i would like to learn more about her... my auntie took me to the shrine and every sence then I have woundered what would have happen if she would have been able to climb out of that hole...befor I heard this story I would play in the mine shafts but now I was tought not to.

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