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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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War Machine: 1942

War Machine: 1942

November 1942. "Flotation machines at one of the copper concentrators of the Utah Copper Company. Its plants at Magna and Arthur in Utah are treating vast quantities of the copper so vital for war purposes." Photo by Andreas Feininger for the Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


I'm curious about the way the floor slopes up. Is the system using gravity to pass material from one machine to the next, or did they just happen to convert a concert hall or sports stadium into a copper refining factory?

Not an empty seat in the stadium

For the big game between the dynamos and the automatons.

It looks like robots ...

... in a large university lecture hall.

stairstep installation

I wonder about the stepped configuration. Did the slurry flow downwards in grades as it was processed? There must be some hidden plumbing that transferred the slurry to and from these vats.

To Infinity And Beyond!

An impressive scene that reminds me of barbershop mirrors.

Odd Robot Out

This is a newer style motor. Still it's all so primitive compared to today.

It points out just how difficult it was to win WWII for a nation with much fewer people than we have today. They truly were the Greatest Generation, because everything they did had to be done the hard way, from 1000 plane raids for one target to hundreds of flotation machines for what would be done with maybe 5 or 10 modern ones.

A simple process....

Well, I thought you just "smelted" some ore and out came the copper... but see below. Apparently just one step in a pretty complex process:

Ore Concentration by Froth Flotation.

Froth flotation

was developed in the early 1900's and is one of the fundamental industrial refining processes that make our technological society possible. In this case, a slurry of pulverized copper-bearing ore, water and surfactant chemicals is introduced into each of these centrifugal machines. A bubbly froth containing the valuable mineral component is whipped up and skimmed off for further purification. It's like a Copper Cuisinart.

Without this process, metals like copper and lead would be too expensive to produce very many shell casings, iPhones or car batteries. All hail froth flotation!

Call the Doctor!

Is this where little Daleks come from?

Odd Robot Out

Fourth row up, fourth from the left.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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