Lake Linden: Another village created by C&H | News, Sports, Jobs


Everything Alexander Agassiz touched seemed to get big – at least, bigger than anything similar he was compared to. Until Agassiz took control of Calumet’s conglomerate copper seam and opened it up with a proper shaft, even he was amazed at how rich the seam was. In 1867, two companies sat at the top of the vein: the Calumet Mining Company to the north and the Hecla company to the south. The Calumet property is developed first, which includes a concentration mill that no one in the neighborhood seems to be able to operate. The machinery had been commissioned by Edwin Hulbert when he was in charge of the mines, but when Agassiz arrived to visit the property in early 1867 the mill parts were piled up around the mill site.

“I feel perfectly frenetic and so helpless”, Agassiz wrote to his brother-in-law and fellow director, Quincy Adams Shaw, “no tools to do anything with, no machines on which any dependency can be placed, no one in the field or in the country who has any idea what can be done with rollers and what is the best way to operate.”

That is, Hulbert had decided to adopt a type of rolling method to concentrate the mineral rock, rather than the standard pads, and the rollers were not only sufficient to break up copper-bearing rock small enough for the merger.

“The maximum capacity of the crusher is three tons per hour”, Agassiz wrote, “and what’s worse, when you drive at this speed you do 20% raff and this raff you can’t finish (it runs at around 40% copper); the rolls are too uneven to crush the copper, unevenness in the shells up to a quarter of an inch occurs so frequently, and power is required to flatten so much copper as in the raff so immense that the rolls open or choke, and raff or clog. ”

After Shaw received Agassiz’s letter, he rushed to Calumet and the two men decided on a plan. Two Ball punches have been ordered for the Calumet mill to replace the rollers. Meanwhile, work on the railway between the mine site and the shore of Torch Lake was pushed as fast as possible, and a mill on the lake shore, the Hecla mine, was built. The Hecla factory was equipped with two Ball punches, with capacity for two more should the need arise. Agassiz wrote again in August, saying: “I don’t have time to write at the moment. I am led to death in Lake and I have no place to put men for lack of shelter.

On September 25, 1867, Agassiz was finally able to send good news to Shaw.

“Finally,” he exclaimed. “Test made this afternoon with a head successfully. Everything seems to be running well and I really believe we made more copper in this time, we ran about an hour, than the whole roller mill will do.

While Agassiz finally got the Calumet Stamp Factory and the Hecla Factory to work as they were designed, his work on the railroad hinted at how hard he pushed himself.

The semi-centenary celebration publication Calumet & Hecla, printed in 1916, stated:

“The railroad to Torch Lake should have been ready for operation in the winter of 1867, except for the minor detail that the cars and locomotives were not ordered or made of the same gauge, so that it was in March 1868 that the first of the stamps began to fall along the shores of Torch Lake on rocks knocked down by the “Fluke” locomotive.

Consolidations have improved efficiency. In 1871, the Calumet and Hecla mines were combined into a single company, because the two companies belonged to the same investors and both had the same members on their respective boards of directors. In 1872, work began to move machinery from the Calumet Stamp Mill, at Calumet Dam, to its new mill on Torch Lake, Linden Lake. The Calumet mill was completed in the spring of 1873, while the Hecla mill was extended to the four stamping heads for which it was originally designed. Mills were now able to keep up with mine production – for a time, anyway.

In 1877, Calumet & Hecla demonstrated its importance in the Lake Superior copper region when the company installed one of the first dynamos east of the Ohio River, converting torch lighting to electricity in factories.

As had happened around the Calumet mines, Agassiz struggled to keep pace with the construction of housing for stamp mill workers. That hasn’t stopped residents of the Torch Lake area from organizing, however.

In 1867, while Agassiz was busy building the Hecla Mill, residents planned and built a frame school, paid for by personal subscription and tax.

The Hecla Mining Company was not the first company to open the Torch Lake area to industry. In 1859 Joseph Gregory arrived in Port Lake and began working as a contractor and builder. The following year, he bought pine and hardwood land on credit and supplied the first logs for Ripley’s sawmill. He also provided timber for the mines. He bought a small tugboat in 1865

In 1859 he came to Portage Lake for barely a dollar; he started working as a contractor and builder. In 1860, he bought pine and hardwood land on credit; he supplied the first logs for the sawmill at Ripley on Portage Lake and he also supplied lumber for the mines. In 1865, he bought a small tugboat and agreed to supply 7,000 cords of wood for the mines. In 1867 he built a sawmill across Torch Lake to make lumber

In 1867, he settled regularly at Lac de la Torche and, in the company of Louis Deschamps and a Mr. Normandin, he built a sawmill and began manufacturing wood under the name of Joseph Gregory & Co. This liaison lasted until 1872, when Mr. Gregory bought out his associates, and has since operated alone; he rebuilt the mill on a larger scale and with modern improvements; he also built his large sash and door factory, which he had just commissioned when his sawmill burned down, causing a loss of $20,000 above insurance.

While Agassiz rushed to provide homes for the Calumet and Hecla stamp factory workers, the organizers and residents of the village continued to create a refined and civilized community in which to live. Linden Lake, like the area surrounding the C&H mine, would develop around the company’s factories.

Graham Jaehnig holds a BA in Social Science/History from Michigan Technological University and an MA in English/Creative Nonfiction Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He is internationally known for his writings on Cornish immigration to the mining districts of the United States.

Today’s breaking news and more to your inbox


Comments are closed.