Jan 02-04

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2004: January: Jan 02-04
Stone Container    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Z-Man

Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 03:42 am:

Over in Ontonagon, you'll find industry alive at the Stone Container facility. Z-Man shows us a sharp mirrored view of the plant. Back in 1998, the MDEQ gave them the "Clean Corporate Citizen" designation. It's nice to know they're taking precautions to keep the U.P. beautiful, while providing opportunity for jobs at the same time!

Editor's note: This discussion drew several related comments, which we moved to a seperate page: National political debate.

By Donn de Yampert, PT, DPT. on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 06:38 am:

Superb photograph contribution by the Zman today. I believe that industrial photos should be nominated for WOW's also.

By DJB-MI. on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 07:56 am:

I notice that Ontonagon has been blessed with prosperity almost unequalled. I hope they can continue with whatever is causing this.---I believe it's the good people of the area & there attitude..

By JJ MI on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 10:58 am:

I visited the area in EARLY October this year err last year... I too was impressed with the area, and I get some history from a local friend who was born and raised in the area... Still has a farm up there (he claims). However - prosperity is relative, not to be negative, and some locals (both there and who have left the area) would dispute that claim. Also, the harbor development - the Army Corp of Enginers Plan - and the (select few) city's rejection of the plan - so the locals told us, is an interesting topic - that reflects the older population (representing perhaps the "have's") and the younger generation (who seem to leave without the opportunities...). But that is not exclusive to that area - I was born and raised in Racine WI and watched the lake front / downtown die and get a chance - through it's harbor development.

This is NOT a troll telling Youpers how to manage their life / city. It is someone who was in awe of the beauty of the area, and who listened to the locals talk about the history (the great fire that burned down the town WAS a story for the history books), the people, and the realities of winters / summers / frost in June to kind of people that restore (door by door) the lighthouse, rebuilt a town, and - yes have prospered, a prosperity of the soul, for being enriched by life there...

By DJB-MI. on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 12:51 pm:

Interesting comments. I refered especialy to the White Pine co. settlement that left all the employees wealthy. The opportunities of the present labor enviornment could be argued from the unemployment figures, which are questionable anywhere.

By Dennis, Florida on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 03:08 pm:

I can remember spitting snow on the 4th of July parade one year, not so long ago.

By Bob Brown, Alabama on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 03:41 pm:

Surprised to hear about a "White Pine settlement that left all the employees wealthy". Was this because of the closing?? How much is wealthy??

By walter p on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 04:50 pm:

love that yellow ice

By ric, WI on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 05:34 pm:

I too lived near Racine Wisconsin...the waterfront looks now like any other recently developed waterfront. Beautiful but expensive, limited access for all...lots of places for YACHTS, though. If you like the Yuppie life, own a new VW Bug or a Volvo, it's for YOU!

By COME ON DOWN......... on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 07:55 pm:

Dont all yoopers come downstate to get a job ? Thats what I was told. You have wayyyyyyyyyy too many logging companies up there anyways...cutting/destroying nature.

By Mimi on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 08:59 pm:

No all Yoopers don't come downstate to get a job. I am a transplanted troll now a YOOPER and I have a great job U.P. here!!! And I love it. Don't have to worry about those horrid smoke stacks and pollution anymore from those car factories. My father was a car factory rat from the Saginaw area. So I know what it is like downstate. I wouldn't want to live down there ever again!! I am HAPPY right where I am!!

By JJ MI on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 09:07 pm:

The Racine water front still has salmon - a rama, still has many festivals, and softball, football, and many other activities that don't require a status, Volvo, or anything other than being a part of the fabric of the city - something Ontonagon residents know all too well - although the harbor - could be improved...

By Catherine--Holland, MI on Friday, January 2, 2004 - 11:39 pm:

Although I wasn't living there during all of this time, this is how I understand it:

White Pine was a relatively expensive mine to run as there were no "veins" of copper--it is all mushed up in the rock so every little bit had to be smelted out in these giant vats. South American (Chilean?) copper was much cheaper and the mine would open and close periodically. Finally it closed for good and the local workers' families pooled together and opened it themselves. I don't know if they leased it or what. Maybe they worked for shares only. A bit later (1 or 2 years?) someone bought them out as it was succeeding and there were a bunch of new trucks on the road around there! This was the late 80s or early 90s. The town was even featured on a national TV show for a small town making good. Our friends out-of-state couldn't believe what a podunk place it was when they saw the footage.

Now it is closed again, the shipbuilding is closed, and the mill is the only steady gig around. Some friends of ours that did OK when the mine was bought out are back under the gun, so I don't know how big the payouts really were.

I think some kind of crop is being grown underground there now.

The town had 2,200 people with +/-40% unemployment in 1980 and now the population is around 1,800. I would live there again, but I don't know where this prosperity is that the earlier post was talking about. There are a bunch of empty storefronts on main street. I sure wish either the shipbuilding could be used again or else it gets torn down and the harbor redeveloped into a more appealing, tourist drawing area.

The state was supposed to build a new bridge a ways up the Rockland road (US 45) as the current swing bridge blocks traffic whenever it has to open for tallish boats to get in and out of the harbor, but that has been postponed (indefinitely?) as some historical (non-Native American, early village?) midden was discovered at one end.

I will happily stand corrected by anyone else that knows more than I do--I put this on as no one else had addressed the question yet.

By J.C. on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 12:37 am:

a german company bought out white pine in the
mid 1980's i remember my neighbor got a settlement check for 60,000.00 they bought an old mining house and fixed it up and rent it to ski'ers and they bought a truck you know and beer hehe.. of course none of it went into anuities to insure a nestegg for retirement. hehe , ah well life is short live fast die young be a beautiful corpse i say! i love being a yooper LOL.. really i do. " time for sauna"

By Allouez Andre on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 12:40 am:

I've read that there's still a lot of copper underground in the U.P. I've seen some estimates that say only half the copper in the ground has been pulled out in all those years of mining. The big cost is in getting the remaining ore to the surface. It's just a lot cheaper to mine it in other areas of the world nowadays. Go drive by Globe AZ and see the results of cheaper methods of copper extraction. It's not real pretty.

By a life long white piner on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 03:56 am:

Yes there is still a lot of copper under ground back there in the U.P. If My understanding that the Copper country was the world's #1 producer of copper in the 1900's but you have companies like Freeport-Macmoran in Louisiana mining over seas. I called this company several years ago after watching a golf tourniment that they sponsered and ask them if they had any plans on looking of copper in the U.S.. their reply was " there's copper in the U.S? ".. All they want was to tear apart an Indonesia mountain.
Back to White Pine, Before it closed down a new Electrolitic refinery was put in. This refinery brought the purity of the copper from 99.5% pure to 99.95% pure with trace amount of silver and even gold
Who actually knows what is underground here

By Downstate Dave on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 10:49 am:

Hey Mary! Hurry up -- put a new picture on the site. I can read all the political comment I want in the newspapers!

Interesting comments on the mining industry though. For those of you who might want to know a bit more about what originally brought people to the Keweenaw -- and later caused some to leave, look for these books in your local library:
"Beyond the Boundaries:Life and Landscape at the Lake Superior Copper Mines" and "Cradle to Grave" both authored by a fellow named Lankton.

Happy New Year everyone.

By sarah, mi on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 11:08 am:

Mimi: if you don't mind my asking, what do you do for a living. I'd love to move out of the city and into the UP or elsewhere beautiful but I always find myself living where the money is made. Sad but true.

By Thomas on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 11:24 am:

DJB posted:

"I notice that Ontonagon has been blessed with prosperity almost unequalled." and "I refered especialy to the White Pine co. settlement that left all the employees wealthy."

You must be noticing a different Ontonagon than the one in the U.P.

I know quite a few ex-White Pine Mining company employees and I can say as a fact that not all of them got a settlement that made them "wealthy". Heck, I don't know of or haven't heard of any average worker who became wealthy from the pay-out.

By danbury; germany on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 12:30 pm:

Thanks for the subtopic, anyway. Gives room for discussion, while leaving the mainpage for the nice comments I usually enjoy reading. (No irony intended)

By Where its AT... on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 02:29 pm:

Right on SARAH, MI. right on ! MIMI must be on another planet, lol, the money is DOWNSTATE !

By Flintstone Freddy on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 03:54 pm:

Yes, Mimi it is very rough indeed Downstate but, the benefits are awesome! (I retired age 50 full pension$$$$$$ ! Heaven !).

By DJB-mi. on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 06:16 pm:

THOMAS-I base my opinion on 2 employees of White Pine & there info. One got 90,ooo , the other 110, 000.--- The ave. I believe was 60,000. . seniority probably 20 years. All employees no, most yes. I stand to be corrected on the exact details.To me that's wealth & unprecedented.

By Liver Lips on Saturday, January 3, 2004 - 07:46 pm:

Good old Larry Lankton...SS369, the History of the Copper Country.

By Connie - Colorado on Sunday, January 4, 2004 - 01:43 am:

I made more money as a high school student working part time in Houghton than I could earn as an 18 year old in Lansing. It was very difficult to find work in the summer of 1980, but I did find a job putting the first three parts of a bumper jack together on an assembly line. $3.20 an hour. When you went to apply for work then, 200 other folks would be in line there with you. It was hopeless. This is also the first place I've ever seen a bank refuse to cash a check. The bankers knew us at Houghton National Bank, we never showed ID there!

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