"Please Respect The Past"

Photos date from 2006-2014.

The Quincy Mine ruins are one of the most visible and recognizable embodiments of the Keweenaw's faded mining heritage, and probably the most visited. I myself have made at least one or two visits every year since 2006, so again, my photos are varied. This site is adjacent to the bulk of the Quincy Mine's ruins, which I showed in my previous post.

What became the Quincy Mine's #6 shaft was originally operated by the Pewabic Mining Co., who were organized in 1853. Mindat says that for their first two years they "concentrated on opening prehistoric mining pits that traced an apparent amygdaloid bed." Amygdaloidal copper simply means copper found mixed with other minerals. Pewabic did not have much success mining this claim, and had ceased by 1884.

After Quincy bought Pewabic out in 1891, Lawrence Molloy says, this site was informally known as "North Quincy," and mined until 1913. It was later reopened and continued operating from 1937 to 1945.

This particular sandstone structure was the company blacksmith shop that Quincy Mining built for themselves at the old Pewabic location.

Again, because they are part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, they have been stabilized and cleaned up somewhat since my first visit in 2006, but I was amused to actually stop and read one of these new signs by the open doorway to the Quincy Mine’s blacksmith shop:

It does not say "NO TRESPASSING," as you might expect. No, instead it says "Please Respect The Past." (Translation: "We know you know there is some cool shit in here, and we also know that if we seal it up some knucklehead is going to tear it open and go in anyway, so just try not to wreck up the place or steal anything.")

According to the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), it was built in 1900 and contained 12 forges, as well as steam hammers, grindstones, and lots of other equipment. At the time it was constructed it was called "the model smithy of the copper district."

Mike Forgrave of CopperCountryExplorer explains that the rear of the building contained equipment solely for sharpening drills, and there was once a loading dock attached to the building, where the blacksmiths "received train-car loads of dull bits from the mines."

I don't know how long the average bit lasted in the year 1900, but if you consider Quincy operated nine shafts, each one averaging about 40 or more levels, all of them full of men working...that's a lot of drills. They were probably refurbishing them nonstop.

Once inside, I was delighted to see that the romantiquarian theme of silenced, gilded age machinery rusted-over and deposited in dramatically listing poses was continued from the scene of the debris-strewn fields outside.

This beast is identified as a No.2 Punch and Shearing Machine, made by Hilles & Jones, Wilmington, Delaware:

The fact that it has its own crane speaks to the fact that it was built to handle large, unwieldy pieces of work.


This particular piece was a drill press:

The sandstone masonry of the structure is weathered, but the mortar joints are freshly repointed:

This is one of the Word drill-sharpening machines, on the left:


There were a total of four of these drill-sharpening machines in the shop, according to the HAER. Each one was originally accompanied by a No.9 Bradley Forge, and an anvil, but obviously most of this equipment is either buried or has walked off.

A steam hammer, manufactured by the Bement Works, Philadelphia:

Hand-hewn wooden stairs that once went up into the loft:

Here, underneath the collapsed section of the loft, is a bolt-forging machine, made by Acme Machinery, Cleveland, Ohio:

It was nicknamed "Bulldozer" on the HAER list of equipment found in this building.

This plate says on another unidentified machine says, MANUFACTURED BY THE CARROLL FOUNDRY, HOUGHTON, MICH.:

The blacksmith shop is to the right, the now restored machine shop is on the left:

Out in the woods behind these two buildings are some older boiler house ruins, including this particularly impressive chimney stack foundation:

The one on the right is actually that of the old Pewabic Mine, still standing:


The massive #6 rockpile was also here, and on top of it this stand for...electrical wires? It doesn't quite look sturdy enough to have been a pulley-stand:

Here are the broken pulleys right here:

Ahh, an early-morning rock pile climb is just the thing to stretch the legs and clear out the cobwebs.

Looking south toward Houghton:

I also noticed (as per usual) a few peripheral ruins I had never seen here before...these belonged to the #6's shaft house if I'm not mistaken:

This machine may have been a piece to a primitive compressor perhaps?

 Near here also was the actual opening of the #6 shaft:

It had been sealed off with a metal grate built of railroad rails and steel mesh.

However it still had openings large enough to toss rocks through:

Now that’s a deep motherfucker…it was kind of disconcerting to be hovering over a several-thousand-foot-deep chasm. The shaft's pitch also angles it so that it passes underneath US-41, nearby.

Within sight of the shaft is the dry house of the #6, which of course is where the miners clean themselves up and change clothes after their shift.

The insides of this decrepit thing had been turned into a splintered wood salad over the past several decades, and as such I never considered going inside. I also had no idea that it was in fact a dry house, or I might have gone in a long time ago.

Recently while showing some friends around the blacksmith shop for the first time, I took a peek through a window while they were taking their time elsewhere. That's when I realized it was a dry and decided to crawl inside, where I found a few unique photo opportunities that made it worthwhile (my original intent was to toss all the lockers for their contents, but sadly they were all empty).

You can see some old lockers poking up above the wreckage in the next two shots:

Molloy says that the dry house was built before 1895 and was remodeled in 1907. Judging by the fact that the Pewabic Mine operated from 1853 to 1884, I'd say it's a safe bet to say it was built in the 1860s or '70s.

Mike Forgrave goes into more detail, saying that Quincy used to have just one large centralized dry house for all their shafts, which was located south of here, on the opposite side of US-41. I featured that dry house in an older post.

However when the Quincy opened their #6 shaft the old dry house was too far away to be of any convenience, so a new one was needed. Instead of building a new structure, they refurbished the old Pewabic Mine's boiler house, turning it into the new Quincy #6 Dry, which is why the structure before us seemed a little odd-looking for a dry house.

The collapse of the second floor's lockers onto those of the first floor made for an awful cramped space to maneuver in, and I have to crawl for most of it. It was also pretty dangerous, with several hundred pounds of steel lockers hanging precariously over my head at any given time.

In this shot you can still see some of the wooden bench that the men would have sat on between the rows of lockers:

This is inside the concrete lean-to addition that Quincy placed over the original front entrance:

The old doorways look practically ancient:

A miner's old boot lays left behind amongst the rubble:

These hooks hanging along the suspended rod were for hanging one's wet clothing up while changing.

Locker number 52:

An old soap holder? It is made out of twisted steel wire:

CLICK here to see the rest of the Quincy Mine sites

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, HAER, 1978
Guide to Michigan's Historic Keweenaw Copper District, by Lawrence J. Molloy
The Copper Empire, A Historical Atlas of Michigan's Copper Country, Mike Forgrave

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