Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SPRING, 1915

Here it is.    

                       The beginning of April. 

Why don't you follow along as the superintendent of the Quincy Smelter Works, Alexander Laist, describes the Spring of 1915 from his perspective right on the Portage Canal in Houghton and Hancock, Michigan 

While going through the Michigan Technological University Archives, there are reports from the superintendent of the Smelter about its weekly activities.  The letters went  to the president of the Quincy  Mining Company at its New York headquarters.

“The official ice reports have begun to come. The compiler says “In comparison with the same period last year there is more ice over western Superior and less over the central and eastern portions, and less in all of the other lakes.” At Portage the ice seems to be going rather earlier than usual.” March 15, 1915

Scene: Across the lake toward Quincy
J.T. Reeder, photographer
Date: February 26, 1921

In March and April, 1915, Alexander Laist in his weekly letters to president W.R. Todd were peppered with comments about the weather and lake ice conditions in the Keweenaw.  

“Weather conditions for the opening of navigation at the usual time seem to be favorable. The temperature at the Portage was a little lower during the past week than previously although there was quite a considerable thaw.” March 22, 1915

After a long ice-locked winter, it was important to get the copper shipped out as early as possible to manufacturers in Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo as well as cities on the eastern seaboard.

“Weather was more severe during the past week at Portage. There were high winds with temperature down to 15...” March 29, 1915

So when the ice went out was closely monitored.  

“The temperature was below freezing at the Portage during most of the week.” April 5, 1915

The three major shippers--Mutual, Anchor and Western--notified mining companies when the first boats were scheduled to dock at Houghton, Hancock or the docks in Torch Lake.

“Weather at the Portage was mild during the past week. Ice has practically disappeared from the lake opposite the two towns though it is probably quite thick yet at Big Portage and at the Canal." April 12, 1915

Mr. Laist was notified the first steamers were scheduled to be at the Keweenaw, coming east from Duluth, by April 27th. 

“The weather at the Portage was warm during the past few days. Yesterday the thermometer stood at 70 degrees; it is the same today.” April 19, 1915

Laist cautioned the Quincy Mining president that these arrivals was subject to the vagaries of the weather.  

In his next report, Laist says the steamers had come in before April 26th.

Another Spring in the Keweenaw!