Gay Michigan, Mohawk Stamp Mill
The town of Gay Michigan was the home of the Mohawk stamp mill from the time of it's construction in 1898 until it closed in 1932. Gay was initially a company owned town and was never very large. It's population was probably several hundred at it's peak and is around 60 now. The Gay Bar and Grill is the only operating business in town that I know of. The Mohawk mill crushed rock from the Mohawk mine to separate copper from waste rock. The stamp mills of the Keweenaw peninsula used enormous amounts of water to separate metal and ore from waste rock. The water from this process was pulled directly from Lake Superior and the finely crushed waste rock was then dumped back into the lake. This practice dramatically altered the lake shore over the years the mill operated. The shoreline from the mill South for a couple of miles is still a "stamp sand" beach a hundred or so yards wide.
The largest surviving ruin of the mill is the smokestack which towers several hundreds of feet above an expanse of concrete rubble strewn forest. It's a very interesting and pleasant place to walk around. It's not developed as a park or being preserved in any way but it's easily accessible. There is a parking area and paths for high clearance vehicles around the stamp sand beach. The Northeastern shore of the Keweenaw is stunningly beautiful and seldom visited. There are countless places where you can pull off the road and have miles of Lake Superior shore to yourself. Tobacco River park a little North of Gay has a few interesting ruins in it. The Copper Country Explorer has exhaustive coverage of the Mohawk mill here.
All content on these pages Copyright Mark Hedlund 2012-2017. All rights reserved. Use in school projects and sharing with links on social media is always okay. Please send me an email to request permission for any other use. Non-exclusive publication rights and commercial use for most photos is $30 per image.