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Cornish Pump
Iron Mountain
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.

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