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Copyright 1996-2007 
 Kevin E. Musser

Painesdale Memories

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During the years 1899 and 1900 the Copper Range Company began to develop the Champion mine. The humble beginnings of Painesdale began as a tent town, not unlike many other mining communities in the Keweenaw. The only permanent structure in the photo was most likely a boarding house. The area in the center appears to be the beginning of one of the four shafts to plunge into the Baltic lode below Painesdale. Most likely at what would become Champion #3. It must have been something to see small children running around the camp and woman (large group to the right) discussing the days events amist the construction of the mine.

The photo was probably taken during the summer of 1900, It is interesting to realize that someone was out making postcards of things like this and most likely selling them in Painesdale and surrounding communities. This postcard was postmarked August 2 in Painesdale, but the year is not visible. As the Painesdale Post Office opened in March of 1901, I would assume that this one was sent in August of 1901 as the letter states "A view of our camp. This was taken when our small tents were up. We now have large tents, only a couple show". From a gentlemen named Neil, probably sent home to either his mother or his wife in Grand Rapids. (Photo from the Kevin Musser Collection)

Do you have a memory to Share?

If you have a memory of Painesdale please
e-mail us at:

PM&S, Inc. wants to hear about your memories of Champion #4 or life in Painesdale.

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Painesdale shop employees, from left, are: 
Frank Jackovich, John Maki, Joseph Somero, 
Chester A. Verran and Ron S. Nuttall.
(CR News Winter 1971-72)


Painesdale Mine & Shaft, Inc. is collecting your memories of Champion #4 and what life was like in Painesdale. If you worked for the Champion Mine or grew up in Painesdale during the copper mining era and have an interesting story to share, please write us so that we can add your memory to our scrapbook. As we develop our site into a museum, we hope to display your memory along side others so that future generations can read about the people that lived and toiled in Painesdale. In the end, history is more than just shafthouses and copper rock, it's about the people that made it all happen. If you are one of those people, please write us at the above address or e-mail works just fine.

Send us your Champion Copper / Copper Range story via e-mail to PM&S and have your story posted here on this Web page. 

Your story here?


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A Shaft of Memories  by A Coal Miner's Daughter
Benita Hall Cole - Lake Orion, Michigan

I have some cherished memories of our shafthouse #4.  I grew up on Cherokee
street in "E" Location in Painesdale.  We were close to the mine and all
other buildings in which men worked in conjunction with the mines.  There
was always a lot of activity around the Shafthouse.  On our way to school
we entered one side, always looking around, taking all we learned for
granted.  It was cool in the summertime, and a nice warm stop for us in the
wintertime.  The thick cable connected to the skip, which carried the
copper rock and also was connected to the cage carrying the men, would
shudder and shake as it held precious cargo.  The miner's were dropped off
at different levels to work; the leader had the responsibility of lowering
or bringing them up.  The huge horses were kept in the Comapny house barn
and cared for by Mr. Michols.  The horses carried great loads of metal
drills and lumber to the Shafthouse to be lowered to the levels below.  I
well remember the Belgian horses pulling their loads in wagons in the
summer and sleds in the winter.  I remember a Mr. Chap driving them.

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A Painesdale Schoolroom

Sometimes when we would come home from school the men would be coming up
from below the surface in the big iron cages.  (I was always glad to see my
father!)  Chains were hooked across the fronts of the cage to keep the men
safe.  They were glad to be on surface, and would go to the Dry to shower
and then on to their home.  Around the Shaft the humming of saws could be
heard coming from the sawmill.  Stacks of logs were piled high.  We girls
would go over behind the sawmill in the evening and tuck our dresses into
our bloomers and jump from the top of the sawdust pile, over and over.  It
was so much fun!!

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Champion #3 during reconstruction (1908-1909)

Nearby was the big company office, it was a lovely distinguished building.
The wood on the inside was kept in a polished condition.  The lawn around
the building was kept just so with dear little daisies popping up all
through the grass.  We would often meet Mr. Schacht, the general manager,
but he never spoke to us.  We were "miner's children".

The top brass wore white clothes when they went underground.  Our father's
wore heavy blue denim over heavy underwear and big leather boots with hob
nails in the sole.  The men worked very hard, the air was not good
underground.  It had a chilling effect.  Men didn't seem to mind working
hard.  I remember the sounds from the Machine Shop, it is still a nice
building.  The Carpenter Shop was also a busy place as was the Supply
Office.  I could hear the sound of the Rock Crusher when I went to bed.  It
was loud when the night was still.  All part of pleasant memories for me
when things were bustling in our wonderful little town of Painesdale.

My father worked in the mine, also #1 (A) Shafthouse.  My brother Clarence
Hall also worked in the mine before he attended Michigan Tech.  They both
had many stories to tell.  Some were very sad, many very interesting.  Part
of our valuable history.


Portrait of Cesare Cappo, By Annette Cappo Butina

The Day and Life of a Miner

What do we know about the man, from Baltic. Kind hearted, hard-working, caring, and a family man is how I would describe him. His hands had 51 years of work at Copper Range. His legacy included Timber Gang, Trammer boss, Shift boss, then his well known position as Safety boss. Cesare was a very fair and just man and with his well known safety record, men always looked up to him. He insured that his men would be safe where they were working or he would not allow them to go in. Cesare designed a safety board that had many of the extra tools that a miner might need in an emergency. He received a picket knife as a token of appreciation from Copper Range for his safety record. One story told is that there was a cave in, Cesare took some men with him and they dug until their hands bled to free the trapped miners.

The love of Cesare's life was his wife of 52 years, Jenny, and his children Anna, Joe, Maria, Fr. Louis, Caesar and Gene. As his family has grown, Cesare has welcomed the births of numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I was only eleven months old when he passed away, but my parents told me that he always called me Bala which is Italian for beautiful.

Cesare was also known for his gardening. Copper Range would have a contest in the communities of Balitc, Painesdale, Trimountain and Atlantic Mine. The Baltic group had some pretty stiff competition. The Smith's, Verran's, Perfetti's, Cucci's and Raffaelli's. Captain Smith, Cesare's neighbor, would play tricks on one another as they would attempt to out do getting the largest tomato, by tying one to the plant, but that never stopped the rivalry or the friendship.

Cesare passed away on December 24, 1964, but his legacy lives on in the Painesdale Mine and in the hearts of his family.


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A photo from "down in the mine" taken approximately 1936 in Painesdale.

From left to right:

Unknown, Rudolph Suokas, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, Richard Kauppi, Peter Suokas.

Rudolph was my uncle, Richard was my great-grandfather and Peter was my grandfather, relates Mark Suokas, who passed along this photo. Thanks for sharing it Mark. Can anyone recognize any of the others?

Memories of Painesdale
My father age 92 now was born in a two story house about a block up the street from the RR depot in Painesdale. It was on the left hand side going up towards the school. The last time I was there (1960) the foundation was still there. He worked as telegrapher at the depot and did other odd jobs for CRR 

My grandfather now deceased was the depot agent and chief telegrapher for about 20 or more years I think for the CRR in Painesdale.

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Champion #4 in the 1920's during its prime.

Unfortunately there are no photographs or artifacts around that I know of. I would have to try a get my father to recall somethings that you wanted to know about. His memory is failing.

I do remember that he talked about a barber by the name of Billy Tieg that lived next store to him. Also a story of going down into one of the mines with a friend exploring and not coming up until very, very late on a Sunday, for which he really caught hell. 

My fathers name is Howard Carl Bentz. My grandfathers name was John or Carl Bentz.

Sincerley, Orrin H. Bentz



Have read with great interest the stories about the Champion Mine and poignant memories shared by many who lived in Painesdale.  As a child I lived with my grandparents on Baltic Street for a period during the war when my parents were working in Detroit.  They lived there for 45 years. My grandfather, Nestor Sastamoinen, left Finland at age 19 and worked in the copper mines his entire life, and worked at Champion for many years.  I can remember grandma filling up his lunch bucket to take to work and the best part was that he always brought something left over from lunch for me.  I, too, remember the little candy store, Taro's, in Painesdale.  As a matter of fact, whenever my husband and I return during our summer vacation, we always drive around town to visit these places that bring such fond memories back to me. 

Sincerely, Shirley Laurin

Early view of Champion #4

A very early and rare photo of Champion #4, taken around 1901 or 1902. 
It shows the original shaft-rockhouse, which was removed and replaced with the present one between 1908 and 1910. The shaft-rockhouses doubled in capacity and size during this renovation. You can make out the roof of the oil house on the right and the machine shop in the distance.
Kevin Musser Collection

Tara's Store and the Great Depression
I was born in Mohawk, MI 1927 and moved to Painesdale in 1928.  I lived at 
147 Baltic Street. I walked to Painesdale Grammar School every day.  My 
father worked in a copper mine (I don't remember which one).  I left 
Painesdale in the fifth grade, October, 1937 and moved to Chicago.  I 
remember Tara's Store.  I told them that their cows were in the garden eating 
all of the vegetables.  They gave me candy and ice cream as a reward.  I went 
to Pigagusti store at the end of Adams Street.  I used to roll boulders down 
the big hill behind the store.  There was a huge valley below, leading to 
Sunny Italy.  We would go to Sunny Italy to steal apples from the trees.  In 
the Great Depression, my eight brothers and sisters would go to the train 
depot and get food and clothes from the government.  I remember that my 
school principal was a great big, fat man who would come into the classroom 
and scare all of the students.

An early view of Painesdale

Our teacher would have to walk to and from school from Trimountain.  I used 
to go into the "bush" with my father and "make" wood for winter. On one trip, 
my father and I were in the "bush" and it was raining, we sawed down a big 
tree.  My father split it and we piled it into cord would for the long, cold 
winter.  We then built a fire and ate a rabbit and pasties we had taken from 
home.  My father then hid the saw ax and sledge hammer in a hollow tree for 
our next trip out.  He did this so we wouldn't have to carry them home.

I will always remember those few years I spent in Painesdale.  They were some 
of the best and worst times of my life. 

Sincerely, Thomas Cernek.


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A very rare photo of Champion #3, #2 and #1 taken from above Seeberville

My mother and dad,both born and raised in Painesdale. I spent many a
summer at my dads father's home in E location. My grandfather, Capt. Jose
would let me go to his office to take a shower as they had no shower in
there home.My mothers dad Albert Bond at onetime ran the skip at no. 4

Sincerely William Jose

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Highland Street, Looking West around 1915

We lived in E-Location near the mining office and the shaft, my father ran the "skip". I have fond memories of sitting inside the shaft building watching the miners coming back from working underground...they liked to tease me by telling me they would take me down that big black hole!!! I used to love it when my sisters would take me to the "dam" swimming with their friends in the summer,it was my job to check everyone for blood suckers and pull them off ....I now know that was the only reason I was invited along!!! My Aunt Ida Chapman lived next door to us and kept cows, sold milk  ,kept chickens and had a huge garden all this while raising 6 boys , she was of Finnish descent ,but made the best Cornish pasties I 've ever eaten..   She was the hardest working lady I've ever known. We moved to Houghton in 1948 when the mine closed and I finished High School there after the harsh dicipline of the Jeffers, Houghton High was like   heaven~ !

Charlotte Chapman McManus

More stories about the Teague Barber Shop and other stories

In one of the stories on the "Painesdale Memories " Web page, mention is made by the Bentz family about a barber named Billy Tieg. That barber is my grandfather who lived in Painesdale for over sixty years. Grandfather's name was Jimmy Teague. He came to Painesdale in 1906 after working at his trade in Calumet. Grandfather was born in Redruth, England and immigrated to America in 1902. When he came to America he went to Calumet where his brother, WIlliam, worked for Calumet and Hecla. In 1920 Grandpa bought the already existing Painesdale barber shop from a man named Archie Salvo. Grandpa married Wilhelmina Spurr. Willa, as she was known, was born not far from Painsdale at Atlantic Mine. . Both Grandma and Grandpa have passed away, but are survived by their two daughters, Clara and Ruth. Clara, (my mother), was born in Trimountain Hospital, Ruth was born in Painesdale. Both attended Jeffers H. S.
My father, Norman Gourd, lived for a time in the house mentioned by the Bentz's as their family home. Norman was born nearby at Baltic, and also attended Jeffers.

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Champion #2 (James Teague Gourd Collection)

Both Clara and Ruth are still living. Clara lives in Dearborn, MI and Ruth now resides in Ft. Worth, TX. Both have many stories to tell about growing up in Painsdale. I have one of my own as I remember well the noontime blasts from underground.
Grandpa was a proper English gentleman. He was proud to be a tradesman. You would only find him out of his starched white shirt and tie when fishing or going to bed. The barber shop and residence were combined into one building. In the late 1940's Grandpa could be found in back of the house cutting fire wood in shirt and tie with his sleeves rolled up. The word "Damme" comes to mind. It was his only explitive. He'd use it on me when I shared the other end of the crosscut saw. He'd say "Damme son" -you never push with the saw- "Just pull"
Grandma worked for a time at the Paine Memorial Library before it was torn down. That was a beautiful place. Natural wood interior and covered on the outside with the red sandstone from Jacobsville. She also worked outside the house at the Methodist Church. She and the other church ladies would donate time making pasties every Saturday as a fund raiser to keep the church going. I'm partial to Grandma's cooking.
As to the noontime blasts from underground.... Grandpa ran a tight ship around the house. Meals were on time. At noon there would be a whistle/siren from the mine accompanied by howls from dogs all over Painsdale. Lunch was often interupted with the clatter of dishes as he was heard to say " there go another one" . Pity the customer who showed up in the barber shop at lunch. Grandpa made sure the customer came first. Somehow he could manage the haircut and still get back to finish the hot meal with the rest of us. This small plaque was presented to Grandpa by his family when he retired in 1969. I am now the keeper of the plaque. I bear his name......James Teague Gourd

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P.S. I've asked my Aunt Ruth Cleary to look over my story for accuracy. She has added her own memories

Dear Jim,
I used to know the writer's father, Howard Bentz, and Clara used to play with Alberta Bentz. Howard was an amateur boxer. His father was station agent for Copper Range. That house your dad, Norman Gourd , lived in had been the original depot. It was moved up next to our house when the "New" depot was built.
I was born in a four family house in B location with Grandma Spurr acting as midwife on April 1, 1916. We moved to Trimountain when I was two and then back to Painesdale in 1920 when we bought the barber shop form Archie Salvo. He moved to California.
Grandpa Spurr helped build the Methodist Church in Painesdale. He was a copper miner. Grandma Spurr was the midwife for many of the women in Painesdale.
As I remember, the company whistle sounded as 7:00, 8:00, 12 noon, 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Many people who did not have clocks and depended on the company whistle.
Around 1920 cows were not confined. The people who had cows would guide them to several meadows around the town in the morning and guide them home at night. Cowbells could be heard all around the town every morning and evening. We used to get our milk from Mr. Dunstan when he had a cow. We used a lard can to tote the milk from his house. Later we got our milk from Jrs. Chapman. Her son would drop off two quarts on his way to school each morning. Mom would keep the milk in the basement because we had no refrigeration.

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Washout on the Copper Range RR, Painesdale 1927. (James Teague Gourd Collection)

The Fosheys used to run the company boarding house before the Sillers did. Antoinette Foshey and Alberta Bentz taught Clara and me how to dig away the sawdust from beneath the doors of the old ice house where the ice was stored for the boarding house, the Superintendent of Mines and other ranking citizens. We would sneak inside and suck on ice chips. Obviously our parents knew nothing of this. But one day we got caught by one of the delivery men. Later when he came into the barber shop he told my dad that he'd caught some kids in the ice house. My dad repeated the story at the dinner table. The guilty looks on our faces were all he needed to reprimand us. We didn't do that again! I could tell you numerous other little incidents that Clara and I shared over the years.
The speed limit was 35 miles an hour when Daddy bought the 1924 Chevrolet. His driving lesson was an oral one from the salesman. So, on Sunday he courageously started to Calumet to see his brother Billy's family. On the way the car stalled on the hill in Hancock. He pulled on the brake and we put rocks behind the wheels while he tried and tried to start the car and flooded the engine. Eventually we got on the way again, but there were a lot of "Damme's" going on.
Thanks for giving me a reason to think of my childhood. Ruth Cleary

More photos from James Gourd at the Keweenaw Photoshop


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Doris (Hanzi) Groeneveld's Memories of working at the Copper Range Company Office in Painesdale


The Dally-Jane Murders in Painesdale during the Copper Strike of 1913-14

Kenneth Nicholson was 4 years old at the time of the murders but still remembers it plainly and relates his story to us.

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Highland Street in Painesdale,
about the time of the Dally-Jane murders
(KEMusser Collection)

Dally-Jane Murder story.

Check out a story in the CR News on the closure of Painesdale and Freda.

Copper Range box cars in the shadow of #4, now just a memory
(These cars were not owned by PM&S and they were destroyed as scrap for a few dollars,
only your help can help us save the rest, before it is too late.)

Thanks also to 
Exploring the North
website for 
listing our address.

This page is brought to you by Kevin Musser
and The Copper Range Railroad and Copper Country Historical Page.
Providing the world with information and 
history of Michigan's Copper Country.

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