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Richard Anderson
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 10:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Arvon Quarries (of course) in Baraga County in the Upper Peninsula produced some commercial slate in the 1870's and 1880's. Does anyone know of the quality of these slates? I've been to one of the quarries and picked up beautiful, shiny, dark grey samples that look like they were quarried yesterday. I've spotted a few roofs in Houghton and Hancock...but not many survive. Are there any "bible" readers "up der"?

Richard (Archaeologist-in Greece!)
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admin
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 01:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do you have any more specific information about these slate deposits? Exact location, for example. I would like to go there myself and have a look.

Joe Jenkins
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Richard Anderson
Posted on Friday, December 26, 2003 - 11:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a copy of a little booklet "Arvon Township 1871-1971, Skanee Michigan, The first 100 Years" which has a few paragraphs about the slate operations. They began in 1873 and there seem to have been two quarries, the first on the east side of the Slate River, the second opening in 1874 on the west side of the river.

"The hand quarried slate was raised to the surface by horse power. It was brought to a dock on Huron Bay by tram cars on rails utilizing gravity and a system of brakes to control the speed. The empty cars were hauled up grade to the quarry by oxen or horses. Due to the panic of 1873 and the resulting depression, the companies were unable to invest in additional equipment to modernize the operation, thus becoming uneconomic for further operation. (Many buildings in the Midwest, Copper Country, L'Anse and the Been residence in Skanee were roofed with these durable slate shingles.)"

"After being closed in 1878, the quarries were reopened in 1880." ...and worked until 1892.

I have been to visit what must be the second quarry on the west side of the river and it's fairly easy to find...if you know the way! Mostly you see a deep, black lake with slate spoil heaps around its perimeter, now being overgrown by trees. Last October I took a few slides and I'm sure I could scan one or two and send them along. I'm also sure I could give good enough directions to find the western quarry but the eastern one would take some footwork! The impressive hardness and shinyness of the rock out in the woods (for more than a century), perhaps attests the quality of the slate.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a fascinating place with many famous copper and iron mining sites. Slate quarrying is therefore hardly worth a mention (and doesn't seem to generate much interest). My (late) mother came from Hancock, MI and I have many relatives in Baraga County. In October my 90-year old uncle took me to the quarry in an ordinary car.

Many thanks for "the bible"...it cannot be praised too highly. Richard
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admin
Posted on Friday, December 26, 2003 - 12:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you very much. I'll have to make a trip up there to have a look at the old sites. (I'll wait until the weather improves, however ;-)

Joe
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Richard Anderson
Posted on Saturday, December 27, 2003 - 09:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, my father says everything is buried in snow now (and probably will be until March or April). As a kid I visited "da U.P." many times in the summer but recently I tend to go in the fall. You want to aim for the brief windows between snowflakes and mosquitoes! I'll send you more info, and a small slate sample by snail mail. I'll continue to seek out geological info as well. Michigan Tech (originally a mining school) is up there (in Houghton) and they probably have a good idea about the very complicated geology of the place. I wonder if I could afford to send everyone up there who still has a slate roof, a "Slate Roof Bible" free of charge? It might save a roof or two.

Richard
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admin
Posted on Saturday, December 27, 2003 - 01:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, we have some first edition copies we're selling at $20

;-)
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Richard Anderson
Posted on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 - 03:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Joe,

Looking up Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) geology, I discovered that there are pretty old rocks up there. The slates and much else seem to be pre-Cambrian. I'll bet they're very "good"...very hard and difficult to work. "Da U.P." is always regarded as "someplace special".

I haven't made up my mind whether I should get about five first edition SRB's...to be sent to my father. I just ordered a 2nd ed. + other stuff, to be sent here.

Best wishes for 2004, Richard
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Richard Anderson
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 06:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

More about Michigan Slate...

I visited my father in the Upper Peninsula in October and while I was there I picked up a book which I finally had time to read. It's called "Geology of the Lake Superior Region" by Gene L. LaBerge (1994 Penokean Press) and there is something about the formation of slates in Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are indeed very old being formed in the Early Proterozoic age which extends from 2500 to 1600 million years ago. The Arvon quarries in Baraga County probably belong to the graywacke-slate sequence known as the Michigamme Formation, part of the Baraga Group of the Marquette Range Supergroup. Recent dating of the Graywackes gives an age of 1860 million years ago...all on page 86 of the book.

The miniscule 19th Century slate industry in the U.P. would seem to come well before Genesis in the (Slate Roof) Bible! (Worth a footnote.)

LaBerge's book is truly wonderful, being written "with as little technical jargon as possible" covering one of the most interesting areas of Precambrian rocks in the world. Someplace special indeed!

Sincerely, Richard
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Richard Anderson
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 08:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Picture of the Arvon Slate quarry (Michigan)

I just discovered an old photograph of (?one of)the disused slate quarries. It looks pretty much the same today. Here's the link:

http://www.hwy41north.com/skanee.html

Christmas and New Year's Greetings to everyone!

Richard
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Leo Glenn
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2004 - 08:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Richard. The photos are great. I noticed that some of the buildings in the other photos clearly have slate roofs. Do you know if any of them have survived with the original roofs intact? If so, it would be great to see some photos of the roofs as they appear today.

Thanks again, and have a great holiday season.

Leo

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