Source for the North
Dickinson County Michigan
Western U.P. Lodging
The Cornish Pump Iron Mountain Dickinson County Michigan
The famed Chapin Mined in Iron Mountain, discovered in 1879,
was one of the wettest mines ever to be worked. During its
first ten years of production, ground pumps were able to
take care of the constant accumulation of seeping ground
water. Later when mining was tired at deeper levels the problem
became impossible for ground pumps to handle.
The kind of extensive pumping required for the job had
only been done in the deep tin mines of Cornwall, England.
The Cornish Pumping Engine
was patterned from the ones used at Cornwall, hence the name.
Edwin Reynolds, chief engineer for the E.P. Allis Company
(now the Allis-Chalmers Co.) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
designed the steeple compound condensing steam engine in 1890.
The engine's high pressure has a 50 inch bore,and the low pressure
cylinder is 100 inches in diameter. The
flywheel alone is 40 feet
in diameter, weighs 160 tons, and had an average speed of
only ten revolutions per minute.
The "slot" for the flywheel is
about 20 feet in depth below the bed of the engine itself.
The drive shaft
to the flywheel is 24 inches in diameter. The engine itself rises
54 feet above the floor of the room. The designers estimate the
weight to be 725 tons over all.
The engine had been placed on the surface close to the boilers
to minimize steam loss do to condensation and to keep it
from damage or shut down during a sudden flow of water into the mine.
In an emergence of any kind, the mine could be completely
shut down and allowed to fill with water without any damage to
to the pumping equipment. The engine's boiler required 11,000
tons of coal annually to operate.
The pumping equipment utilized a reciprocating motion to a line
of steel rods extending 1,500 feet
down into the mine, with eight pumps attached at intervals
of 170 to 192 feet along the rods. Each of the pumps forced
the water to the next higher pump and finally out to the
surface of the mine.
As the engine was designed to run slowly, the pumps had a capacity
of over 300 gallons per stroke of the pistons. At ten revolutions per minute,
this meant over 3,000 gallons of water poured out through a 28 inch
the pipe every minute. A total of 5,000,000 gallons of water
could be removed from the mine each day.
The engine began operation at "D" shaft of the Chapin Mine
on january 4th, 1893. The engine alone cost $82,500 in
1890. The portion of the pumping system located in the shaft
cost much more, and the installation added brought the total
cost to an estimated $250,000 for the entire pumping plant.
Some estimates go much higher than that.
A crew of 60 men divided into three shifts was employed to
operate the plant, including the men in the boiler house, and shaft.
The pump worked well at "D" shaft until underground conditions
caused it to shift and the equipment was forced out of alignment.
In 1986 it was dismantled and stored at a site known as the sand banks
half way between it's original location and its present resting
site at Ludington "C" shaft. The pumping engine went back into
operation in 1908 and de-watered the combined Chapin, Ludington
and Hamilton mines, each of which had been operating in close proximity
of each other.
The Cornish Pumping Engine and equipment were highly efficient
at this site until, in 1914, the Oliver Mining Company put into
operation at the Chapin the largest electrically driven centrifugal
pumps in mine service at that time in America. Unable to adapt
to the new electric motors, the magnificent Cornish Pumping Engine,
world famous as one of the mechanical wonders of the steam age,
stood idle and was kept only for emergency use.
M.I. Advertisement Pricing