Painesdale Mine & Shaft, Inc.
and you can help to save Champion #4


Copyright 1996-2006 
 Kevin E. Musser


A Tour Inside Champion #4 Shaft Rockhouse

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By: K.E.Musser
In the spring of 1997 I  recorded these images of what remains of the many levels of the Shaft-Rockhouse. The Shafthouse is now open to the public during the times PM&S have the facility open for tours. So some of these images are easily obtained.

All of the images of the Rockhouse and looking down from the skip dump to the shafthouse you will not see anywhere else. Rarely does anyone venture to the top to view the twin head sheaves and look out through the hoist rope window to view Lake Superior and "E" Location/Extension.

Description of these images: Please use the drawing below to reference where you are in the structure to the image.

The image to the left is the massive 40 (or so) foot drop hammer that took on large stubborn pieces that were too large for the crusher. The hammer foundation below the hammer is just as large (see color image below). I am about half way up the Rockhouse at point C on the layout, against the far wall. The designator A indicates the position of the drop hammer in the Rockhouse, again, against the far wall. If you look at the tip of the hammer you will see a piece of I-beam that has been wedged in between the brace and the tip. The brace is slowly giving way to the mass of the hammer as you will notice. I don't know why they didn't just rest it on the foundation.

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Here, for reference, is the hammer foundation remains at Champion #3, well most of it anyway. The hammer in the photo above sits on top of this foundation. You will also notice from the relationship of the foundation to the access road which is running right under where the storage bins of #3 would have been located.

Behind me is an area where rockhouse men used raw black powder on very, very stubborn rock. I could not show an image of this area as their are so many large holes from past blasting that I get too much glare from the sun shining through the "swissed cheesed steel plate".

This is one of two rock chutes which allow rock to enter the rockhouse. Notice the pneumatics for controlling the chute. Their is another pneumatic value above the chute door, of which, you can just see the lower arm holding the chute chains. Their are similar chutes on the other side that discharge poor rock into awaiting poor rock tram cars which exit the rearside of the Rockhouse. This photo was taken at location G on the near side of the Rockhouse.

This image shows both of the 12x15 inch rock crushers that sit below the rock chutes. You can make out the bottom of the chutes better on this photo. This would have been a very noisy place to work. I wonder if anyone who worked at this level can still hear, especially with black powder going off behind you.

This image was taken at location F (1st floor of the Rockhouse) looking down on location D. You should notice that the rock car is hanging from the skip crane. When the county used the shaft there was a man car but this car has since disappeared. Currently their are two 6 ton rock skips at the site.

Standing on top of the Copper Rock bins below location B looking up at one of the two massive sheave's in the sheavehouse at the top. At this point you are on a catwalk 30 or so feet above the rock processing floor (location C). After this shot I moved out on the catwalk to a ladder than disappeared into the sheavehouse another 30 feet or so above the catwalk. I was not feeling too brave at this time, it looks a lot easier from the outside, up a ladder, over a catwalk, it was a long way down if the ladder rung gave way. You only live once and what a view at the top.

The head sheaves at the top of the Rockhouse. A great view from here of the hoist house and it is easy to see from here the route of the old hoisting ropes, as well as the foundation of the first hoist house, just northeast of the present one. I was told that the ropes from the old hoist house ran right across the ground and you really had to watch yourself when you were near. When you are visiting #4 look under the Batter Brace and you will see the concrete remains of the guide supports for the sheaves that changed the direction of the rope to climb up to the top of the Rockhouse.

Another view of the sheave showing the bearings and wood brace. Lots of light up here, but watch your step, 120 feet or so to the ground from here.

This image is made up of two video clips and was taken at location E at the bottom of the skip road. The image of the hanging skip was taken from the level with the railing, behind the skiproad. This level is reached from the Shafthouse by one set of stairs that are more similar to a diving board with a couple of missing stairs to make things interesting. At this level you are just above the storage bins and this is the main operating level of the Rockhouse behind.

I hope you have enjoyed these images as much as I did filming and creating them. And I hope you will contribute to Painesdale Mine and Shaft, Inc. to help them continue the restoration effort so everyone will, one day, be able to see this wonderful piece of history and engineering from the inside as well as the outside.

Copyright 1997

                                                                                A mile beneath Painesdale