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Abandoned Places

I've been visiting abandoned places my entire life.  I haven't delved deep enough into my mind to trace my interest back to my first abandoned discovery, but one thing is certain: I've been surrounded by forgotten relics for a long, long time.

Growing up, our neighborhood's forests had all sorts of farm equipment rusting away in the woods.  An old tub, broken jars, and piles of ancient paint cans weren't garbage, they were evidence of another culture! (In hindsight, it was definitely old garbage).  My Myst senses were tingling.  An escape was near.

Mine Shaft.jpeg

Whether we were digging through old barns, junkyards, or dusty county roads, old stuff was everywhere.  For a kid that grew up watching Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and the Brave Little Toaster,  I was livin' the dream!  Whether mixing dark Disney cartoons with insane post-apocalyptic wastelands at a young age was a wise idea, we may never know.

During my undergrad days at Michigan Tech, my interest in abandoned places really took off.  Old mines were everywhere!  Although I wasn't one of the intrepid (often idiotic) explorers that snuck into the really sketchy mines, I did my fair share of traipsing through the ruins.  It was expected of students if we wanted to graduate.

My grad school days out on the East Coast heightened my abandoned spidey senses.  I could sniff out a ruin a mile away.  The locations were varied, from old mills and factories to smelters and homes.  The stakes were much higher out here than in the relative safety of the U.P.  Constant vigilance was needed.  I did my research and really dug into the trade, exploring abandoned spots across a wide area.  You can find a sampling of my old photos below.

Returning to the U.P. as an seasoned urban explorer, I took every chance I could to seek out old mine ruins I had missed during my Tech days.  Time was of the essence: Dollar Generals were popping up on brownfields across the nation!  The century-old ruins that once entertained me in my (relative) youth were either cleaned up, locked up, or turned into tourist sites.  Funny how visiting a place that was once illicit now charges you for the privilege.

Fortunately, the Western U.P. has a lot more mines than people think.  The Copper Country stretches all the way to Bergland, with dozens of old mines scattered around the Trap Hills and Ottawa National Forest.  Some are known and easy to get to, like Norwich Mine.  Others are quite a tougher.  Who's been to the Derby, Sharon, Toltec, or Tremont Mines?  Probably a lot fewer!  And those are just the ones I'm willing to tell you about.  Most are just water filled holes or blocked up, but a few I've found have hidden adits burrowing into the hillside.

Water Adit.jpeg

Someday I'll have visited every mine, found every old cabin, hiked every lost landscape, and clambered into every rusty old car. Then will I be done?  Of course not!  By the time I've visited them all, there will be a whole new crop of abandoned places waiting to be uncovered.  It's the gift that keeps on giving.  Young Nathan would be proud.

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