Quincy Smelter, Last of Its Kind
Quincy Smelter in Hancock is a unique industrial site. Its cupola building housed boiler furnaces, water pumps and electric generation equipment.
Frequent visitors to the Keweenaw Peninsula all seem to know the Quincy Mine with its towering Shaft House. The popular tourist attraction on U.S. Highway 41 overlooking Hancock is part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park.
Lesser known, but also historically significant, is the Quincy Smelter off M-26 on the shore of the Keweenaw Waterway in Hancock. Its buildings and equipment make it “the most intact and complete site of its type left in the world,” says Scott See, who heads the historical park’s advisory commission, the smelter’s owner.
Built by Quincy Mining Company, the smelter operated from 1898 to 1971. Through heat and chemical processes, it made copper ore into molten copper for ingots or other sizes. The ingots were sold to factories and turned into products like copper wire or tubing.
The smelter represents a pivotal point in industrial history, says Horst Schmidt, president of the Quincy Smelter Association. “It shows the transition from manpower-based production to machine-based production.”
The association is one of two groups giving guided tours. The association’s Saturday tours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 6, September 10 and October 1.
Except on those Saturdays, Quincy Mine Hoist Association offers its tours Monday through Saturday mid-June through Labor Day. Times vary, so call in advance to visit this last-of-its-kind piece of history.