Historically speaking

Lake that disappeared, part 2

ISHPEMING –The removal of most of the water from Lake Angeline meant mining operations in the basin could begin. Unfortunately for the three mining companies involved, the year 1893 was a bad year for the sale of ore. A financial panic had gripped the nation and not much ore was sold. Many mines in the Ishpeming area closed and let their shafts fill with water. Some mines continued to work, although on reduced schedules or reduced wages.

“The local officers of the Pittsburg and Lake Angeline Iron company received orders from the management on Friday to close down ‘C’ shaft of the old mine. At this shaft something over three hundred men were employed, all of whom were laid off Saturday night. The hope had been cherished that the company would not be compelled to make a reduction in its force, but it has had to succumb to the necessity which has forced other mines here to a similar step.” (Mining Journal, September 18, 1893)

“The workings known as the Old Lake Angeline mine will close the first of the coming month. Of late this property has been too costly to handle, and the management has decided to abandon it entirely. About one hundred miners were employed there, all of whom will be transferred to the East End mine, where the ore can be raised at a much less cost. Some of the men employed on surface at the old mine will be laid off temporarily, but in a short time the majority of them will be give places at the other workings.” (Mining Journal, October 30, 1893)

“Yesterday morning some of the men on the night shift at the Lake Angeline East End mine came to surface an hour earlier than usual and held a conference with the men on the morning shift, which resulted in about seventy-five of the men employed in that shift not going down. Others who would not agree to a strike went to work.

The immediate cause of the strike is the reduction in wages, which went into effect on the first of the current month. The miners are working on contract at a certain price per foot. They allege that at the present price they are unable, in many cases, to earn enough to live on. On some contracts they have been doing very poorly, while on others they have been making from fair to good wages.

At the conference of the mining officials, held here a few days ago, the situation of affairs in general was fully discussed. In order to operate the mines under the present depression a cut in the age rate was imperative.” (Mining Journal, November 9, 1893)

The strike was short, lasting only a couple of days and gradually conditions improved and the mines at Lake Angeline went back into full production.

“In the bottom of Lake Angeline, or where the lake used to be, a heavy growth of young poplar trees is springing up. The soil is remarkably fertile, and the trees will soon attain a height of several feet.” (Iron Ore, November 17, 1894)

There was a much larger strike in August and September of 1895 and the mines of the Lake Angeline region were part of that strike. Once the strike was settled, the Lake Angeline mines settled into a period of relative calm, with steady production.

“The Lake Superior Iron company is meeting with success in its mining of the new ore body found beneath the bottom of Lake Angeline and located about 850 feet south of their No. 1 Lake shaft upon the north shore of the lake basin. They are observing the caving plan of winning the ore, and the first settling took place last spring, the work done previous to that time being of preparatory kind, opening the ground so that it could be relieved of moisture, and in getting ready for actual mining.” (Iron Ore, November 13, 1897)

“The deposits of the Lake Angeline basin are given attention by the three big companies doing business in our midst. It will be an active source of supply for many years to come. All the companies have well-equipped shafts and recent important improvements in the way of buildings and machinery to care for the needs of the future. The deposits have no great depth but possess substantial proportions in strike and width. There has been no late trouble from the incoming of the silt that filled twenty or more feed of the old lake bottom, and which used to cause great annoyance and expense. (Iron Ore, November 18, 1905)

By 1910, the mines around Lake Angeline were not as healthy as in years past and the valuations of the various mines in that immediate area reflected this.

“W.G. Pollock, secretary and treasurer of the Jones & Laughlin Steel company, owners of the Pittsburg & Lake Angeline Iron company, spent yesterday in the city looking over the Lake Angeline mine. He stated that the mine is about worked out and that all of the ore that can be recovered will be mines by December 1, of this year, when the property will be closed down and the machinery removed. It will mean the end of a famous iron mine.

The Lake Angeline has been a wonderful producer of high-grade iron ores, operating continuously for a good many years. Up to the first of 1914 it had shopped 8,949,907 tons of ore.” (Iron Ore, June 20, 1914)

“Announcement was made this week that the Pittsburg and Lake Angeline Iron company would sell all of its property in the State of Michigan – real, personal and mixed – at public auction in this city on September 15.

The company has decided to go out of business after being engaged in the iron mining business for a long period of years. The holdings of the company include the Lake Angeline mine, located in this city, the Mitchell mine in Tilden township and other land in Champion, Forsyth, Ely and Humboldt townships in Marquette county, and in Spurr township in Baraga county.” (Iron Ore, August 7, 1915)

The Lake Angeline property went for $27,000 to an agent bidding on behalf of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company.

“The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron company has closed down the Angeline mine, this city, transferring the small force of men who were employed there to other mines in Ishpeming. The reason for closing down the property is that the company has been experiencing difficulty in selling its Bessemer grade ore and those mined at the Angeline are exceptionally high in iron and low in phosphorus. Some of the ore mined there went as high as 69 per cent in iron, with little phosphorus.” (Iron Ore, May 13, 1916.

That closing was temporary, as the mines in the Lake Angeline area generally shipped ore until the mid-1920s. By that time the ore in that area was pretty much exhausted.

“When the Oliver Iron Mining company suspends pumping operations in one of the old Lake Angeline shafts, about the first of April, old mine workings surrounding the Lake Angeline basin and the Lake Superior hill will commence to fill with water, and eventually, not for some years, there will again be a Like Angeline in Ishpeming. It was in 1892 that the old lake was pumped dry in order to permit the extracting of rich iron ore deposits that were in that immediate vicinity.” (Iron Ore, March 24, 1945)

It would take about four years for the Lake to fill. Fish were planted in 1948 and anglers began to catch them 1949.


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