Friday, October 01, 2010

Upcoming Lectures and Presentations: Lloyd Baldwin, MDOT

Mr. Lloyd Baldwin of the Michigan Dept. of Transportation will make a presentation titled "The interface of historic preservation and transportation projects" on Monday, October 11th.  Mr. Baldwin's presentation will include an informal overview of the key legislation regarding cultural resources with which he and his MDoT colleagues work on a daily basis.  He'll describe the analysis and consultation process involved in determining impacts of transportation projects on cultural resources and overview the resources available for getting this work done, including the Transportation Enhancement program.

Mr. Baldwin studied History and Public Policy at Ball State University, receiving his BA in 1984.  He also studied at Eastern Michigan University.  

Brown Bag Lunch will start at 11:45 on Monday, October 11, in room 201 of the Academic Office Building at Michigan Technological University.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fire at the Quincy Smelter site

Last night and early this morning, several local fire crews responded to an emergency call about a structure fire at the site of the historic Quincy Smelting Works.  The smelter, built in 1898, is the last copper smelter standing in the Keweenaw Peninsula. I have heard many people claim that this is one of last and best preserved nineteenth and early twentieth century copper smelters in the world.

The buildings that burned were the Carpenter Shop and it's Lumber Shed.  The smelter blog included pictures taken of these two buildings before the fire, along with a description of their history:
The Quincy Smelter's Carpenter Shop and Lumber Shed from the blog:

More photographs and text about the support buildings were posted by the Copper Country Explorer:

The fire started at about 11 pm on Saturday night.  Due to it's location on the water in Ripley, the fire was visible from all over downtown Houghton.  Here is the "stub" story in the Mining Gazette:
The Daily Mining Gazette's photo in their coverage of the fire.

Photos of the event are finding their way to media sites like

This morning I went down to see the damage.  I am very grateful to the firefighters for working so hard to save the Stock House, which was scorched by the heat, and the other buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Carpenter Shop.  Here are some pictures from my cell phone camera of the ruined buildings this afternoon:

Thursday, September 02, 2010

New book by an MTU alumni

Christopher Nelson finished his MS in Industrial History and Archaeology at Michigan Technological University in 2009.  I am pleased to report that he has since reworked his thesis into a book, self-published this month using

The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939 (2010) tells the story of Charles Richard Patterson and his family.  C.R. was born an enslaved person.  In 1865 he set up a small company to manufacture carriages in Greenfield, Ohio, and Patterson became an industry leader in winter buggy design.  As the company grew, Patterson expanded the business with other members of his family, and the shop began producing automobiles, trucks, and eventually buses.  When C.R.'s son Frederick started making automobiles in 1915, Nelson wrote that he became the first and only African American-owned company to ever manufacture automobiles in the United States.  The Patterson family members were leaders within the both the mostly-white community of industrialists and also the African American communities.

After 74 years, the Patterson family ultimately lost their business in 1939 when a series of unfortunate events during the Great Depression forced the company to close the shop's doors.  Chris tells their story using documents, photographs, oral history, architecture, and objects.

To get your copy, bring these ISBN numbers to your local bookshop:
  • ISBN-10: 1453770305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453770306
If you can't get your local bookstore to order a copy, you can order this book through Amazon by clicking this link:

Mr. Nelson took a position as a staff archaeologist with Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. in Hurricane, West Virginia, and is a Registered Professional Archaeologist.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cliff Mine Archaeological Survey Website and Blog

Sean Gohman published the official website for the Cliff Mine Archaeological Survey. The first posts, about the field school, the site, and it's history, are signs of lots of good writing that will come during the summer!

Please check it out here:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Upcoming Lectures and Presentations, March 23, 2010.

A series of excellent events coming up of interest to the industrial heritage and industrial patrimony.

Social Science Brown Bag Lecture Series: Louise Dyble

"Landmark of Death: Responsibility, Safety, and the Question of a Suicide Barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge."
Friday, March 26th, 12 Noon - 1 PM. Room AOB 201.

T. Allan Comp visit and lectures, March 28-29, 2010


Dr T. Allan Comp is an historian based in Washington, DC. Jo Hanson, the pioneering public artist in San Francisco, once described Allan as "a relaxed blend of John Muir, John Dewey and John the Baptist." He holds a Ph.D in history, worked for several years in cultural resources with the National Park Service, left that to work as a developer of historic properties and consultant to historic preservation projects, and then to work for a regional Heritage Area in western Pennsylvania where he invented AMD&ART. Always a volunteer for AMD&ART, his work attracted the attention of other watershed and community improvement projects in the Appalachian coal country and in the Western hard rock mining country as well. Winner of multiple awards in partnerships and planning, Allan now leads the OSM/VISTA Team and Brownfields Initiatives at the Office of Surface Mining in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Coffee with Social Science grad students from Industrial Heritage and Archaeology and Environmental Policy.

Monday, March 29, 8:30-9:30, Annex Seminar Room 

The Use of Sustainability through Combining Arts and Sciences in Professional Practice and Environmental Reclamation

Monday March 29, 2010 3pm DOW 642

The term "sustainable" can be, and is, thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean?  How are we as practicing professionals working in the environment to appropriately use the term?  What are the realistic dimensions of "sustainable'?  What part does public input, public understanding, public support play in sustainability?

I'd like to review a few projects that attempted a broader approach to sustainability and then turn to some of the lessons learned in those efforts, both for professional practice and the
language we use to describe that practice and for larger community-based perceptions of sustainability (or reality) as well.

One such example is the AMD & Art project (

Comp’s idea was to reclaim toxic former coal mines using not only science but elements of design, sculpture, and history, which he hoped would spur community involvement and create vital public spaces…Undeterred, Comp put together a core team of designers that included hydrologist Bob Deason, sculptor Stacy Levy, and landscape designer Julie Bargmann. And crucial members of his elaborate cast were the townspeople themselves. “If I have an art form, it’s probably choreography,” Comp explained, “and I don’t even get to pick the dancers. I’ve got elephants and gazelles and they all have to work together.”… For years, Allan Comp has been describing the Vintondale project as “art that works.” The AMD&ART Park “works” in the sense that it filters acid mine drainage from millions of gallons of water. But it works in a much more subtle way as well—in the way the people of Vintondale experience and respond to it as art…ALLAN COMP HAS DESCRIBED the term “AMD&ART” as a shorthand for “science and the arts.” Following the ecological principle of interdependence, he possesses an almost mystical belief that disciplinary boundaries need to be broken down and worked across. Turf wars, especially at universities where budgets are strained, have too often kept the sciences and the humanities on opposite sides of campus, increasingly specialized, and so estranged that they, quite literally, cannot understand the language the other is speaking.”

“Twelve years after he hatched the idea to resurrect the town dump of Vintondale, Comp feels more certain than ever that the “arts and the humanities are absolutely necessary to environmental recovery.” Science can change the water chemistry, but for Comp, it is art and history, combined with the science, that will ultimately change people’s minds—will change the way we think about an industrial economy that is destroying the very ecosystems that sustain us, and all life. “It’s not the water that’s the problem, it’s us,” Comp said. “And if we fix us, we’ll start fixing the water.””

Evening Public Engagement:  Community-driven design in Environmental Reclamation

Monday March 29, 2010 6:30pm MUB Alumni Lounge B
The public lecture will definitely focus primarily on AMD&ART.  Dr. Comp will explore the co-dependence of the arts and sciences in environmental reclamation by introducing the community as the pivotal factor in adding sustainability to the process.  The public lecture will also focus on a few other spin-off projects to establish the viability of the approach and then try to draw a few lessons learned.  It will also include a short bit on a strong determined OSM/VISTA team of volunteers in Appalachia and the Western Hardrock.  This will be followed by an open question and answer session in the form of a dialogue.


Social Science Brown Bag Lecture Series: Sean Gohman

"John M. Longyear's land holdings in the Gogebic Iron Range through the lens of Geographic Information Systems"

Friday, April 2nd, Noon-1 PM, room AOB 201.

Moulshri Joshi, visit and lectures, April 18-24.

During the week of April 18-24, the Social Sciences department and the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series will be hosting Moulshri Joshi, a New Delhi architect and industrial heritage practitioner who is best known for her firm's prize-winning design of the Indian memorial to the victims of the Bhopal industrial disaster.  

Prof. Joshi will be available to participate in undergraduate classes and graduate seminars in environmental policy and industrial heritage management, and will meet with other interested groups across campus, to discuss current practices related to environmentally-sensitive planning as well as international industrial heritage policy – both celebratory and critical.   The central event of her residency will be a campus-wide lecture (probably Tues evening April 20) on the Bhopal Disaster and current efforts in India to memorialize its victims.  Prof. Joshi, though early in her career, has been an invited consultant in Japan and Europe to discuss these matters.

The websites listed below can give you more information about Prof. Joshi's architectural firm, 'Space Matters,' as well as descriptions of the Bhopal memorial and the many public controversies arising from it.   [This note by email from Susan Martin]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Upcoming Lectures and Presentations

Michigan Technological University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Program and the Department of Social Sciences will host a series of upcoming talks.

This Friday at noon, Erik Nordberg will present a talk in the Department of Social Sciences Brown Bag Lunch Series:
Nordberg Talks About Nordberg
Friday, March 19, noon.

Michigan Technological University Academic Office Building, rm 201.  

Erik Nordberg, university archivisit and a doctoral student in the Industrial Heritage and Archeology program, will present about the history and archival records of the Nordberg Manufacturing Company. This is one of the case studies Erik is pursuing in his dissertation research, which examines the challenges encountered by institutions who have been collecting archival records of industrial enterprises.

The Nordberg Manufacturing Company fabricated its first stationary steam engines in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1886. Its founder and chief engineer, Dr. Bruno V. Nordberg, had studied with the Allis company and patented an automatic cut-off governor which formed the basis for the new industrial venture. In the late 1890s, Nordberg began to produce large steam hoisting engines for the mining industry and quickly dominated the market for compound steam ore-crushing stamps, mining air compressors, pumps, and hoisting engines. The company later ventured into other lines, including diesel engines (some very large prime movers), cone crushers, ball mills, railroad track-laying machinery and equipment for the aeronautics industry.

This paper provides an illustrated overview of the company’s history, facilities, and products. In addition, the author examines the disposition of the company’s business records, including a large collection of engineering blueprints. Erik will detail the distribution, archival processing and use of these records over the last 30 years in four different locations.

The history of the Nordberg Manufacturing Company and the disposition of its archival records provide a useful case study of the value of such companies and collections to industrial archaeology. These collections, particularly the voluminous sets of dimensioned blueprint drawings, provide distinct curation challenges to collecting institutions and present mixed experiences in the actual and potential use by historians, restoration specialists, and other researchers.

Craig Wilson will give a talk as part of the public defense of his Master's Thesis in Industrial History and Archaeology:

From Ruin to Museum-Preserving and Interpreting the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad Engine House

Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 1 PM
Michigan Tech, Academic Office building, room 201

Monday, March 15, 2010

New blog- Industrial Heritage in Brazil!

Mariana Marcon has started a new blog about the Theory and Practice of Industrial Heritage (Teoria E Prática do Patrimônio Industrial) in São Paulo, Brazil. Her site is new and I am excited by the promise of future writing because of the beautiful photographs and the links that she has included.  The links connect the reader to important policy documents and intellectual statements about the preservation and management of industrial patrimony.  Her blog will also be interesting because Ms. Marcon also writes another new blog about urban planning, making a provocative combination.

I wish I could read Portuguese, but since there are so many cognate words with Spanish, I am able to muddle through!  Thanks for the new blog, Ms. Marcon.  I am looking forward to your writing and pictures!

The Comitê Brazileiro de Preservação do Patrimônio Industrial (TICCIH Brasil) is a vibrant group.  Their website is here:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010 Field School in Industrial Archaeology: Cliff Mine Survey

MTU has decided upon the site for our 2010 Field School in Industrial Archaeology:  The Cliff Mine (1845-1870).

Iron chimney projects above a stone stack on the site of the Cliff Mine. 

Join the Industrial Archaeologists from Michigan Technological University during May and June of 2010, helping document an historic mid-nineteenth century native copper mine in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  The Keweenaw is famous as one of the few places on earth where humans found abundant lumps of raw copper, ranging in size from pebbles to record-breaking boulders of pure metal.  We anticipate studying the ruins of the Cliff Mine (1845-1870), one of the region's earliest and most profitable mass copper mines.  The site sits atop and below the 200-foot greenstone bluff that runs along the spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula, about 30 miles northeast of Houghton, Michigan.  We will be reconstructing the evolution of the industrial process using clues left by the workers as they built, worked, and reworked the site's shafts, mill, engine house, kilns, stacks, shops, houses, and offices.

MTU IA grad student Craig Wilson at the base of a stack at the Cliff Mine.

The field school participants will learn multiple documentation techniques, such as digital and optical mapping; use of GPS and remote sensing in survey; learn measured drawing and drafting; taking architectural, archaeological, and object photographs; and undertake some excavations and artifact analysis specifically designed for industrial heritage and archaeology.  Along with fieldwork, there will be field trips, lectures, and discussions devoted to the history and technology of early copper mining in the Keweenaw, archaeological method and theory, and issues of ethics and heritage preservation for industrial heritage sites.
Looking over a waste rock pile at the 200 foot bluff that splits the site into upper and lower sections.

More information here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Henshaw's thoughts

Marc Henshaw wrote some interesting thoughts inspired by a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  He was trying to raise awareness about the impending demolition of Andrew Carnegie's Pittsburgh Locomotive Works, but he also made some interesting observations about the challenges which heritage preservation poses for industrial (and post-industrial) communities.

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette article:

Archaeology Dude's discussion:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Call for Papers

I think this is a great opportunity for someone from an industrial archaeology background to overview current research in IA on quarries and industry...


FroGabriel Cooney:

Call for Papers: World Archaeology's special issue on stone mines and quarries

New approaches to stone mines and quarries; materials and materiality
A forthcoming issue of World Archaeology (Vol 43 No. 2)

Submission by September 2010 for publication in June 2011. 

It is now over twenty five years since the publication of a World Archaeology issue on stone quarries (WA 16.2). Since that time our understanding of the significance of the recognition, extraction and production of artifacts from particular stone sources has changed dramatically. Analytical approaches allied to the application of a range of scientific techniques have facilitated the discrimination of the use of sources, the tracking of the process of working stone, the nature and scale of production zones and the geographical extent of movement of objects. These advances have been matched by a recognition that in the past stone was not viewed as neutral and inert but rather as animate, alive, with rich symbolic potential and that is useful to think in terms of objects having cultural biographies. The extraction and working of particular stone sources formed an active medium in the creation of identities and memory in a range of social contexts and practices. The value of relating and linking the human working of and engagement with stone at different scales, from the microlithic to the megalithic, is increasingly being recognised. Quarries occur in specific locations but rather than categorising them as peripheral, industrial sites when they are evaluated in the context of the symbolic value placed on stone from particular sources and places in social landscapes, their wider importance can be appreciated. Papers are invited which consider these themes and in particular how advances in investigative approaches have contributed to our understanding of the social role and significance of the working and use of stone in the past. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Update from the Society for Historical Archaeology meeting

Hello everyone,

I'm in the Jacksonville Airport, waiting for the first leg of my flight home to the Keweenaw.  I was at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology this week, staying at the beautiful Amelia Island Plantation in sunny (but cold) Florida.

I had a chance to see a number of great Industrial Archaeology research papers, including five or six related to salt production in the United States and in the Maya cities of Belize.  I also visited Kingsley Plantation on St. George Island.  It was a great site with a fascinating historical story, and they excavated the sugar mill last year!  The NPS page for the plantation and the ecological preserve is here.

I also got to talk with many MTU IA Alumni about projects and current research.  After the semester gets going, I'm going to post a few updates about their activities.  It was good to see everyone!