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(authors icon)1918

Norrie Miners

Miner Family

For awhile prosperity came to everybody on the range. Leaving out the salaried officials, the average pay of the men at the Norrie mine was $2.37 a day--and in this average, covering a period of six months, are reckoned the wages paid the surface men, who received $1.65 a day. Some of the miners made $180 a month.


Ore Train

On a forty-mile run of the Lake Shore road, from Ironwood to Ashland, ore trains were run at express speed. This bit of railroad became the best-paying mileage in the United States. Eighteen tons of ore made up each car, forty cents a ton was charged for this short run to the ore docks, and sometimes the same car made the run twice in a day. Every car of the many that made up the numerous ore trains thus brought a revenue of $14.40 a day to the railroad company, or $1,440 for a hundred cars. It was reckoned that there was a profit of a dollar a ton for every ton of ore dug and sold during this period of prosperity. In one year the Norrie mine alone shipped a trifle less than a million tons of ore. Under such circumstances it was not to be wondered at that those who were "on the ground floor" felt that they could afford such extravagances as wearing costly diamonds in place of ordinary buttons. The Colby mine yielded enormous profits. The Aurora tempted an Eastern syndicate to play $600,000 for a half interest, or 20,001 shares. This was $30 for each share of $25 face value. They increased the shares to 100,000 and these fell to but $27 each after this enormous inflation. The $600,000 purchase money was deposited in cash in one of the Milwaukee banks.

Ashland Docks

Dumping Ore at Ashland

Loading Ore at Ashland

Colby Mine

Such were the conditions that made everybody connected with the range consider himself a millionaire, or a prospective millionaire. In May, 1886, one year after the commencement of the boom, one of the range newspapers gave a summary of the values of the Gogebic mines that was regarded as entirely reasonable and conservative in placing the total at $24,000,000.

"The Gogebic range, which a year ago to-day was practically unknown and of uncertain and doubtful value," was the editor's comment, "is to-day estimated to contain more wealth than the entire assessed valuation of some of the oldest states in the Union."

The several mine leases were estimated to be worth, as commercial property, the amounts given below:
Mines. Value.
Aurora $600,000
Iron King 400,000
Ashland 650,000
Norrie 800,000
Pabst 240,000
Bonnie 320,000
First National and Geneva 320,000
Blue Jacket 160,000
Puritan 240,000
Ironton 180,000
Tontine 90,000
Valley Mines (3) 480,000
Colby 3,000,000
Palms 150,000
Anvil 175,000
Gogebic 120,000
Iron Prince 40,000
Iron Sides 55,000
Crown Point 50,000
Brotherton 150,000
Smith 125,000
Iron Chief 100,000
Minnewawa 200,000
Germania 400,000
Montreal 250,000
Nimikon 150,000
South Nimikon 20,000
Kakagon 150,000
Bessemer 100,000
Superior 125,000
Odanah (Puggawaugan) 200,000
Ryan 160,000
Moore 100,000
Wood 60,000
Amazon 200,000
Pence 200,000
Badger State 100,000
Caledonia 100,000
Laura 60,000
Lottie 20,000
West Ryan 50,000
Kennon 40,000
Northern Chief fee simple 1,500,000
Penokee & Gogebic Development Co. fee 2,000,000
Gogebic Iron Syndicate 1,000,000
Newport & Lake Superior Land Co. fee 1,000,000
Lake Superior Ship Canal Co. fee 5,000,000
Longyear & Co., and all others 2,000,000
Total value $23,465,000

Montreal Mine

Germania Mine

Montreal Miners

Germania Miners

Montreal Miners

The sale of the Bonnie and Iron King properties for $1,200,000 early in 1887 was noted as the third largest transaction up to that time. A colossal syndicate was planned to obtain possession of the richest mines on the range, and financiers of national reputation were interested in the enterprise. Before the plans were fully matured, the great crash came, and values dwindled from millions to thousands. This was in the summer and fall of 1887, The previous winter the prices of stock had reached the highest notch. With the opening of navigation in the spring, expected ore shipments could not be made from some mines because there was no ore there to ship; from others because there were no facilities for shipment. Lack of dividends created first suspicion and then alarm. There was a great crash; the speculator disappeared from the range and left the legitimate miner to develop the mineral wealth through slower and stabler processes.

Ore Punchers

Years ago the scientist, Increase A. Lapham, intimated that vast deposits of iron lay buried in the range that crosses the boundary line of Wisconsin and the northern peninsula of Michigan. It remained for Nat Moore, a roving adventurer, to make the discovery that sent scores of prospectors to the region between Penokee Gap and Gogebic lake. His first trip to the Gogebic was in 1872, when he made a dangerous journey of a hundred and ten miles on snowshoes. It was some years later that he made another long and lonely journey through the woods, and following the path cut through the tangled forest by a hurricane, found clean hematite ore under the roots of a fallen tree. It was this circumstance that made Moore the pioneer of the Gogebic. Like John E. Burton, who became the promoter of the mining properties, he amassed in a couple a years a fortune estimated at several millions of dollars. Both men lost all they had made when the collapse came.

Miner & baby

Legler, Henry E. Leading Events of Wisconsin History. Milwaukee: Sentinel, 1898. 310-315.
In the UW-Madison Memorial Library reference stacks: F 581 L4.