Abandoned Stamp Mill Ruins in Gay, Michigan
There's a former mining community in the Keweenaw Peninsula that is nowadays considered to be a ghost town, even though there are a handful of residents still there.
This unincorporated community is named "Gay" after Joseph Gay, co-founder of two mining companies, Wolverine and Mohawk.
Gay was in an area where it was almost a necessity to be a lumber town, as that was the most profitable, next to mining ore. But when the timber started to deplete, Joseph Gay's Mohawk Company began planning a stamp mill along the Lake Superior shoreline. Built from 1900-1901, all that remains today of the stamp mill are the ruins and smokestack…and what ruins they are! It’s not just a few crumbling bricks and a smokestack – rather than me trying to explain, you’ll see these extensive ruins in the photo gallery below.
For such an isolated area, Gay was doing well throughout the early 1900s, with a population of approximately 1,500. Aside from the impressive stamp mill, there was a blacksmith, carpenter shops, company doctor’s office, company houses, extended dock, 117 resident houses, schoolhouse (for 250 students), pump house, and warehouse…..and of course, the Gay Bar, a favorite local and tourist hangout and the only business left.
By the 1920s, the copper mining enterprises were on a downslide and the Mohawk Mining Company closed their mines and mills in 1933. Even though much timber had been depleted over 50 years earlier, Gay’s lumber trade continued until the railroad stopped coming through in 1965.
Today, the town is littered with many deserted & abandoned homes and businesses, old miners' homes and more. And yes, the townsfolk take advantage of their village name to this very day with the annual 'Gay Parade' every 4th of July.
Looking at the photos below, you'll notice the similar structure of many of the miners' old houses. Some of them look like they may have been businesses at one time.....but there are so many that look like former stores, inns, or schools, that it's hard to tell. If you plan to visit, always, ALWAYS respect any & all private properties.
And when it comes to the old stamp mill ruins, heed this:
WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.
In other words, always check for “No Trespassing” signs.
Gay, Michigan: Then and Now
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