THE ORIGINAL QUINCY SMELTER
172. Photocopied July 1978, (LGK) VIEW SHOWING CUPOLA BUILDING (LEFT) AND REVERBERATORY FURNACE BUILDING (RIGHT) AT QUINCY SMELTER. C. 1898. - Quincy Mining Company, Hancock, Houghton County, MI
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Winter at the smelter in 1898 looks a lot like winter now in the Keweenaw. This is an early photo. It shows the coal trestle, part of which the photographer is standing with his back to Portage Canal. You're looking at the Cupela and Reverberatory buildings.
What's here? The chimneys of both buildings are as they looked when constructed. The Cupela chimney is for the blast furnace that was used to remelt slag to recover the last of the copper before being put in the slag pile behind the building. Slag is almost pure vitrified black glass.
Originally there were 4 reverberatory furnaces in the other building, each having the capacity to produce about 30,000 lbs of copper per charge. Notice the covers over the tops.
Before natural gas became common, coal was used in most factories to heat the boilers for steam to run the machinery. And, as you can guess, to melt copper ore. Since there are no coal mines in the UP, it was brought during the six month boating season on the Great Lakes. Enough coal had to be delivered to last through the winter. These trestles in the picture were used to move the coal from the boats and dump it on the ground below. The trestles are long gone. When you stand in the now empty area, you are in the middle of the canal, looking right at the main span of our bridge.
What's not there? The Briquette building (1906) and the large wood bins (1907) for holding limestone built between the two structures. The elevated narrow gauge railroad trestles of the 1920 expansion of the smelter have yet to be raised for connecting those buildings.
There is a long wood structure next to or attached to the Reverberatory building. Another wood utility building behind it with what looks like a hand operated crane in the rear. All long gone.
Then there is the mystery house partially blocked by the Cupela building. We have heard that the office building next to the highway was moved there, being elsewhere on the site. No confirmation of this story has been found. Closer examination of the current office building and the house in the photo is an intriguing element in piecing together the puzzle of the smelter's history.
And in the background at the base of the mountain between the two buildings, there are homes and another trestle. What kind of business was this?
The picture label above gives the approximate date. It may have been taken just before the December 1, 1898 start of smelting as construction was in its final stages, based on the materials and equipment on the grounds. The undarkened timbers of the coal trestle. The unpainted siding on the wood buildings also provides a clue. If you go to the Library of Congress website*, clicking on the tiff format allows for a fascinating detailed examination.
To find out more, come see us next summer.
Happy holidays to all!