The Houghton Blitz: Lighting the Quincy Mine

2014-houghton-blitz-2978

2014-houghton-blitz-2978, photo by Christopher Schmidt

“Our children were born here and now we have five grandchildren to celebrate also. We have proud geological roots here. We think the shaft should be bright on our birthdays, and this would be a good way to support geoheritage and the QMHA. We hope other local families will consider doing this.”
~Bill and Nanno Rose

Apparently, you can make a donation and have the Quincy Mine Shaft lit up in honor of a loved one. Click the link for details!

The photo above shows the Quincy Mine Hoist, part of the Quincy Mine complex, an extensive set of copper mines near Hancock. The mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company . The Quincy Mine was known as “Old Reliable,” paying a dividend to investors every year from 1868 through 1920 and operated between 1846 and 1945. The Quincy Mine page on Wikipedia says (in part):

The Quincy Mine was founded in 1846 by the merger of the Northwest Mining Company and the Portage Mining Company. Due to poor communication between government offices, these two speculative mining companies had purchased the same tracts of land during the mining rush of the early 1840s. The directors met and decided to merge, with significant investment coming from Massachusetts (the town of Quincy, Massachusetts lent the mine its name). While many other copper mines were founded at the same time, the Quincy Mine became the most successful of the 1840s-era mines, and was the country’s leading copper-producing mine from 1863 (when it exceeded the production of the Minesota Mine) through 1867 (after which it was exceeded by the Calumet and Hecla).

The mine was the first Michigan copper mine to switch from fissure mining to amygdaloid mining, when the recently discovered Pewabic amygdaloid lode was found to cross Quincy property in 1856. High-grade fissure veins contained large, pure masses of copper, but the masses could take days or even months to extract, at high cost. Amygdaloid mining consisted of extracting lower-grade strataform orebodies in the “amygdaloid zones,” the upper portions of basalt lava flows. Rock bearing small pockets of copper could be blasted out immediately and processed elsewhere at much lower cost. Amygdaloid mining proved much more productive than fissure mining, and the size and richness of the Pewabic lode in particular allowed the Quincy to produce profits for 53 consecutive years. The Quincy company expanded laterally along the lode by buying out adjacent properties. The company bought the Pewabic mine in 1891, the Mesnard and the Pontiac in 1897, and the Franklin mine in 1908. This helped the mine survive longer than almost all other Keweenaw copper mining companies, except the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company and the Copper Range Company.

To attract a better class of worker, the Quincy Mining Company built and maintained housing for the workers. Over the course of operations, the types of housing ranged from simple tents in the early days, to complete three story houses shortly before the mine’s shutdown. The executives on the east coast wanted to build more elaborate and fancy homes with amenities such as electricity and running water. However, the on-site managers didn’t think it was necessary for the miners to have such high-class dwellings. But the east coast executives realized that if they offered nicer homes to the workers, the miners were more likely to stay, raise families, and be less likely to leave the area or transfer to another mining company. This strategy proved effective and helped the Quincy Mining Company retain its status as one of the premier mining companies in the region.

View Chris’s photo background bigatacular and see more in his Keweenaw Lightning slideshow.

More about the Quincy Mine on Michigan in Pictures including the second picture posted!

Copper Adit Falls, Stamp Mill Falls at Copper Falls Mine

n2c_113-4482

n2c_113-4482, photo by Gowtham

Gowtham writes:

Established in 1846, Copper Falls mine was a collection of several copper mine shafts and adits (definition below). Owl Creek — in what was once one of the richest fissure veins in the Keweenaw — seems to make a magical (and a seasonal) appearance out of a hillside draining the now closed Copper Falls mine to form this quite spectacular and scenic-looking Copper Adit Falls. With the nearby remnants of an old stamp mill, this waterfall is also known as Stamp Mill Falls.

Citing Wikipedia, an adit is an entrance to an underground mine which is horizontal or nearly horizontal, by which the mine can be entered, drained of water, ventilated, and minerals extracted at the lowest convenient level.

The Copper Country Explorer’s entry on Copper Falls begins:

Stamp Mills relied on two things in order to separate copper: water and gravity. Any stamp mill would be built near a source of water such as a river or lake. It also would be build along a hill, in order to make the greatest use of gravity. Because of this we started our search along the creek that had cut a path through the sands – Owl Creek.

Owl Creek was the lifeblood of the Copper Falls Mine. Steam stamps required water, and along the rugged ridges of the Copper Falls a natural source existed. Fed from atop the ridge by a lake of the same name, Owl Creek drops over 500 feet to the marshlands along Superior’s shore. This creek not only provided water to the mine and mill, but the potential energy stored in its banks could easily turn a water wheel for power (mechanical power, since electricity had yet to be invented). It was a perfect spot for a mill.

Read on for lots more and explore the Copper Falls Mill at with the Copper Country Explorer.

View Gowtham’s photo bigger and see more of his photos from the area on his website.

More waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!