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The Portage Lake Mine Fatalities

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  • Samuel Phillips (1876 - 1913)
    ACCIDENT No. 24 - April 17, 1913 – Samuel Phillips; Winona Mine. Samuel Phillips, an Englishman, employed at the Winona Mine as a trammer boss, was killed on this day. An inquest was held over his bod...
  • Fredrik Jaakola (1886 - 1901)
    Rock fell on abdomen, died 24 hours later
  • Mate Vukelic (1870 - 1909)
    ACCIDENT NO. 13 – December 7, 1909 – Matt Vukelic, No. 4 Shaft, Isle Royale Mine. Matt Vukelic, a trammer, met his death on this day by falling down the shaft. An inquest was held before Justice Litt...
  • George Ivankovic (1869 - 1906)
    ACCIDENT NO. 12. — December 28, 1906. — George Evonkovitch, Austrian. — Isle Royale Mine. George Evonkovitch was accidentally killed at Section 12 shaft of the Isle Royale mine on this date. An inqu...
  • Mate Tus (1880 - 1906)
    The Daily Mining Journal October 17, 1906 Page 3 FALLS 500 FEET. Matt Duss Meets Same Doom as Two Brothers Before Him. Matt Duss, a trammer at the Isle Royale mine, dropped 500 feet yesterday morni...


The Isle Royale Mine consisted of over 3500 acres of land just south of Houghton, comprised of the Old Grand Portage, Huron, Frue, Dodge, and Montezuma mines. The mine consisted of six shafts, a centralized surface plant, a short line railroad, a stamp mill, a pumping station, and a coal dock. Its original planned location on Isle Royale itself never materialized, and the company to looked elsewhere for mineral lands. Their first attempts at mining south of Houghton only resulted in the naming of the Isle Royale Lode, a lode they had trouble working profitably. It wasn’t until the company was reorganized in 1899 and infused with some new funds, most of which came from Calumet & Hecla, that success was finally attained. The new Isle Royale Copper Company managed to acquire mineral and surface rights to almost the entire length of the Isle Royale Lode, as well as the parallel Portage lode. Dodgeville is a second mining-related residential community within the watershed. Platted in 1908, Dodgeville was created to provide housing for employees at the Isle Royale Mine. From 1908 to 1930, during peak mining operations Dodgeville was a vibrant community. As the price of copper dropped and the Great Depression set in Dodgeville’s commercial district slowly disappeared.
The Isle Royale Mine contributed to an estimated 71 fatal accidents during its lifetime.

Isle Royale Fatalities

The Huron Mining Co.

One year after the Isle Royale Mining Company commenced production, the Huron Mining Company opened one shaft on a half portion of Section 2 (T54N - R 34W). The mine quickly expanded to four shafts by 1854 and the company initially constructed a primitive stamping mill to crush the mine rock and access the copper. By 1865, a new Huron Stamp Mill was completed, utilizing water power from the newly constructed Huron Dam. (This dam created Huron Lake) The mines used the lake as a source of water for their steam engines, which drove the stamping machines that crushed the mine rock, and as a means to separate copper from waste rock after stamping. The dam and lake constructed by the Huron Mining company remained in place after mining operations ceased. Despite the new mining technology employed at the mill, Huron Mine’s only successful decade was in the 1880’s. The Mine had several reorganizations, changing its name to the Agawami Mining Company in 1868, later to the Houghton Mining Company in 1871, and back to Huron Mining Company in 1880. The Huron Mine finally ceased operations in 1893.

'Hurontown' was originally built as a mining town to support workers at the Huron Mine. Platted in 1862 by E.J. Hulbert, it occupies the northeast quarter of Section 2, and the northwest quarter of section1 of township 54, range 34. Hurontown was considered part of Houghton for a brief period from 1867-1872, but for the most part it has been considered part of Portage Township.

The Huron Fatalities

  • Autio, Jaakko Feb 12, 1891
  • Bartoletto, Peter Oct 11, 1890
  • Cotter, Michael Jun. 28, 1882
  • Maga, James Jun 11, 1887
  • Morretto, Andreas Jun 11, 1887
  • Moyle, Richard 1888
  • Patro, Antoine Jun 11, 1887
  • Peterson, Henry Nov 26, 1889
  • Piana, John Jun 11, 1887
  • Ponzetti, Antoine May 13, 1889
  • Rashleigh, John Jan. 24, 1887
  • Sandretto, Angelo Aug 16, 1890
  • Sobey, William J. Apr 5, 1890
  • Steinback, Andrew Nov 26, 1889
  • Toivanen, Adam Nov 5, 1890
  • VanGlenn, Peter Mar 1888

The Grand Portage Fatalities

The Winona Mine

An underground copper mine consisting of four shafts located in the copper mining town of Winona, 33 miles south of Houghton. The Winona Mining Company was organized in 1864. The company reorganized as the Winona Copper Company in 1898. In 1911, the company absorbed the King Philip Mining Company, which adjoins the Winona property on the southwest. In thirteen years, The Winona, produced over 16,000,000 pounds of refined copper. The mine workings extend for a distance of about 9000 feet along the strike. The deepest workings are at 1500 foot. A shaft about 1500 feet northeast of Winona No. 1 shaft is evidently on the continuation of the Winona lode in 1920, the mine closed permanently. The mine produced approximately 17.6 million pounds of refined copper. Copper, silver, and datolite can be found in the mine piles.

The Winona Fatalities

The King Phillip mine is southwest of the Winona mine. Its mine workings are connected with the Winona, and for many years the two properties were operated by the same company. In 1924 the writer was Mining Engineer at King Phillip No. 2 shaft. Tap 12th level at the bottom of the King Phillip shaft extended 400 feet to the southwest. Work at the mine was sporadic in nature. King Philip, like Winona, worked the Winona Amygdaloid which was thought to be the southern extension of the famous Isle Royale Lode.

The King Philip Fatalities

The Wyandot Fatalities

The Superior Mine organized in 1904. It consisted of two shafts that worked the Baltic lode, the same as the Baltic, Trimountain and Champion mines. The mine closed in 1920, and was purchased by Calumet & Hecla in 1925. No further work was conducted after that time. Over 16 years of operation, the Superior Mine produced approx. 30 million lbs. of refined copper.

The Superior Fatalities


The Challenge Mine is an underground copper mine consisting of one shaft in Toivola, located near Painesdale. The Challenge Mining Company was organized in 1904 to work the Baltic Lode, which crossed the property. One shaft was sunk by the St. Mary’s Mineral Land Company but after 800 feet down, shaft sinking was halted and the mining operation was shut down in 1909. Copper was being found, but not enough to support the operation.