The old town of Senter is an unincorporated community in Houghton County’s Torch Lake Township. During the last census, there were only seven residences, causing some sites to claim Senter is a ‘ghost town’.

The town was named after a resident of Houghton, an 1800s merchant named John Senter. The town, thanks to its location, became the location of the Atlas Powder Company as well as a community specifically for housing the powder company employees. The Keweenaw copper mines needed supplies of dynamite , which the Atlas Powder Company produced and provided.

The plant was a good 1,800+ acres, needing all that acreage for their 240+ buildings. Why so many? You can thank nitroglycerin for that.

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According to, nitroglycerin was necessary to the production of dynamite and they needed a vast quantity of it around. Blueprinting the plant was made with this in mind, and wide acreage was vital in order to space out the buildings at safe distances in case of any explosions. Also, with so many explosives around, Senter was the perfect spot; in case the plant accidently blew up, it was far enough away from most towns that wouldn’t suffer from the effects.

After the powder company began operating in 1910, a post office opened, and by 1915, the town of Senter had grown to forty residents.

During WW2, copper was vital in the production of ammunition, and the Atlas plant was ordered to keep supplying the mines with more explosives so the copper mining would continue – at least for as long as the war lasted.

The plant closed in 1960.

Abandoned Atlas Powder Company, Keweenaw


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