Posts Tagged ‘images of echo bay’

Hello, Thanks for checking in. This Port Radium page has never seen before black and white pictures.  These are  images of the construction for the first modern Acid Leaching Plant in North America at the Eldorado Mine. There are never seen before black and white pictures of the Eldorado Mine Mill fire of 1951. I would like to share these images before they fade away as the town site of Port Radium has. The last photograph is the tailings piles from the Eldorado Uranium Mine. As far as you see in this photo there are piles and piles.

Port Radium NWT 1950 – 1952

In the land of the Midnight Sun

From my evening viewpoint, a great bear Ursa Major, draws my attention upwards. The Alpha star Dubhe and companion pointer Merak, point to the North Star, in the direction of another Great Bear and where a lovely small rock, once came from. Interesting how this little rock now sitting on my kitchen table in the Shuswap, can provoke so many thoughts. As the morning sun shines on the rock, golden specks sparkle and shine on its surface. At one time the rock lay on the earths surface and faced the midnight sun in Port Radium NWT, until 1963.

Port Radium Rock

Port Radium Rock

The rock has always been synonymous with a collection of old black and white photographs of Port Radium and the Mill fire at the Eldorado Mine in 1951. As these photographs age, they fade away into the paper they were printed on 62 years ago. Faded from sight as the old buildings at Port Radium, but never to fade from the history of the north, nor the world.

This rock was not the quest of the day, but a silent witness of the uranium mining activities and the Acid Leaching Plant construction at the Eldorado Mine. A huge history for such a remote place and time at Port Radium NWT circa 1951.

CF-DOT Pilot going to Port Radium NWT 1950

Everybody, and everything including buildings, arrived either by freight barge, aircraft, cat train, dog sled or the Winter Ice Road, which began at Fort Byers. The Mackenzie River was crossed over via an ice bridge. The Ice Road with overland portages between a chain of 19 frozen lakes, is constructed every year. It is average of 325 miles long, and goes north to The Great Bear Lake and Port Radium.


Notes on the photo say: J Irwin, CF-DOT. It is not known if they are part of the 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, USAF, from Beaverlodge Alberta. Part of the Pinetree Radar Line at Saskatoon Mountain Air Station perhaps?

Port Radium NWT, 1950 – 1951

At Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories, circa 1951 on the north-eastern shore, in a small inlet of Echo Bay at LaBine Point, existed Port Radium and the Eldorado Mine. Over the years they mined for uranium, gold, silver and copper.

There was a Mill, and the soon to be constructed, first modern Acid Leaching Plant in North America. The horizon of Echo Bay would change forever, we thought. But, it was the world that had changed forever instead.

Port Radium 1950

Contact Bay frozen Airstrip and Ice Road 1950

The ice thickness at Port Radium was checked daily to ensure it was safe to travel or land on. But while traveling on the Ice Road, one hand was on the door handle, and be ready to jump just in case.

Contact Bay Frozen Airstrip 1950

Port Radium NWT, 1951 – 1952

The little arrow just off center top denotes: Top of the Acid Plant as construction begins and the new plant becomes visible on the horizon at Echo Bay in the McTavish Arm of Great Bear Lake. The buildings at Port Radium were reportedly white with green trim. Among the houses and other buildings were bunk houses, machine shop, electric power plant and the mill. This was the only place on Great Bear Lake shoreline were people stayed year round.

Port Radium NWT

Eldorado Mine Acid Leaching Plant 1951

On the hillside to the left, you can see the skeleton of the new construction that has started on the Acid Leach Plant. In the front left at the bottom of the chute, is a tailing pile, sitting on the edge of Great Bear Lake.

Acid Leaching Plant 1950

The Bricklayers and a Steam Fitter at Port Radium 1951

There were bricklayers, steam fitters and many other people working on the Acid Leaching plant. A 33 year plumber and steam fitter David McElroy (bottom right in photo) was working there, and took these pictures in 1950 – 1952. Until 1956, his employer was shown as 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, United States Air Force, address Saskatoon Mountain Air Station, Beaverlodge Alberta.

The 919th ACW was later taken over by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1963. In April 1963 his employers name changed to Department of National Defence, Royal Canadian Air Force, Stn Saskatoon Mountain, Beaverlodge Alberta. Which explains much about a USAF Officer in another photograph with him later on, perhaps in 1963?

Bricklayers and Steam fitter 1950

Conveyor at Port Radium 1950

How the conveyor at the Eldorado Mine looked before the fire of 1951.

Conveyor at Eldorado Mine 1950

Small arrow in bottom right of this photo denotes: This is how the pipe boxes look when finished, this is running to the acid plant.

Acid Leaching Plant Construction – Port Radium 1951

According to the notes on these old black and white photographs, the acid plant is just being constructed. This photo notes: This is when we are piping, just fitting steam heat. These photos are circa 1950-1952.

Acid Plant Eldorado Mine 1950

Fuel Tanks and Fuel Barrels at Contact Bay 1951

With the mist rising in the background of Contact Bay, the foreground shows the storage of fuel tanks on the right. Notice the left bottom corner of this picture. These are 45 gallon fuel barrels, stacked 3 high. Full barrels stacked on the left and empty barrels spread out over the ground in the center of the picture.

Contact Bay NWT 1950

1951 Eldorado Mine Fire

Valiant attempts by the workers, could not save the buildings from the fire. The temperatures were so cold, all the water froze and made clean up difficult.


Port Radium NWT Uranium Mine Fire circa 1951


Eldorado Mine Fire circa 1951


Port Radium Fire Winter 1951


Temperatures could be in the 30, 40 or 50 below ranges. All fire fighting activities were frozen solid. Accounts show that the fire caused $4,000,000 damage on that day. These pictures of the fire at the Eldorado Mine in 1951, have never been seen before. There is no clue in these black and white photos as to how the fire started.

Port Radium Fire circa 1951

It was noted that from the lake up to the hillside and houses, there were sets of stairs with steps numbering 128 to the top. They seem to have been spared from the fire of 1951 at the Eldorado Mine.


Empty fuel barrels at Port Radium 1951

A view from ground level, shows the massive number of fuel barrels in the fuel farm. Some of the empty fuel barrels, tires and miscellaneous waste has gone over the bank into Great Bear Lake.

Notice that the only thing left of the Eldorado Mine conveyor after the 1951 fire, is the chute down to Great Bear Lake. That would be a tailings pile from the mine at the base of the chute. What else is in The Great Bear Lake?

Fuel at Port Radium 1951

Port Radium – Aerial Photo of Eldorado Mine Tailings 1951

This never seen before black and white aerial photograph was taken in 1951 near Port Radium. As far as you can see into the distance, there are mine tailings piles from the Eldorado Mine. There were thousands and thousands of truck loads of mine tailings. Where are they now? Are they still contaminating life in the north? In the world?

Eldorado Mine Tailings 1951

Only The Great Bear will know, and what of the Great Bear above me? What is she telling us? We have not listened to The Great Bear of the Rainforest. She also has much to tell us. One day we need to listen, one day very soon. We need to move forward in life but never forget what was left behind, nor the consequences from our previous actions.

There are a more pictures of the workers and equipment at the Acid Leaching Plant for the Eldorado Mine 1950-1952 at Port Radium NWT on my website page http://shuswaplakephotos.ca/eldorado-mine.html.


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