ASME-Landmark:Chapin Mine Pump


The Chapin Mine, one of the large strikes in the Lake Superior geological district, was located under a cedar swamp—and it was completely unminable until it was drained by one of the largest pumping engines of the 1880s. The mine began producing ore in 1880, and while miners used the most advanced technology of the day to access it—sinking a deep shaft through 90 feet of quicksand, using enormous pumps driven by compressed air, freezing the sand with two of the largest refrigeration compressors built, and lining the shaft with a sectional cast-iron circular shell—this method, along with conventional pumps that removed water from the lower levels, proved inadequate within ten years. As the problem grew in severity, the Edward P. Allis Company of Milwaukee was contracted to build the gigantic pumping engine, now designated as a landmark, which began operating in 1893.

The Chapin Mine pumping engine is a steeple compound condensing engine capable of lifting 200 tons of water a minute, equivalent to 4 million gallons a day. The engine is fitted with a surface condenser and a Reynolds patent air pump. Mine water was used in the condenser for cooling purposes. Edwin Reynolds and his nephew, Irving, designed the steam-driven pumping engine, which drew worldwide attention both for its massive size and for its efficiency. Operations at the Chapin Mine were able to continue until 1930. See ASME website for more information