When the Mineral Range Railroad first made its debut on the Copper Country stage it was a relatively small operation, only serving a handful of mines and industries between Calumet and Hancock. Because of this fact the company elected to build only a modest rail yard at is southern terminus along Hancock’s lake shore. But as more companies began to take interest in the region the railroad found itself expanding to meet the growing need. By the end of the nineteenth century the little railroad had grown to cover over 90 miles, swallowing up its major competitor in the process. This new juggernaut required a much more robust rail yard, and as a result the company built a much larger and more capable one at Calumet.
This new complex sat just to the south of Calumet and consisted of over a half dozen buildings including a large roundhouse, water tank, sand house, and machine shop. Included as part of this massive complex was the railroad’s main oil house. Here the various lubricating and fuel oils used by the railroad were stored and distributed. Due to the building’s increased fire risk it was designed to be completely fireproof, its walls and floors made of concrete. The oils themselves were stored in various tanks in the building’s basement while its upper floor housed pumping and distribution equipment.
NOTES: Today this squat concrete structure is all that remains of the massive Mineral Range complex that once stood along with it. The building can easily be seen from the road or nearby recreational trail, which runs along the old Mineral Range mainline.
DIRECTIONS: The old oil house sits along Spruce Street just south of Calumet. From along US41 in Calumet turn left at the stop light (6th Street extension). Follow this road into town, turning left onto the second road past the sandstone church (Osceola Rd). Follow this road for about a half mile turning onto the first dirt road on the right. The Oil House remains will be on the right just a short distance down the road.
FOR MORE INFO: A detailed look at the Mineral Range Oil House remains can be found at Copper Country Explorer.