A Copper Country Tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Part 2 of 2)
Kris Palmer is a communications consultant for the CDA. She and her family toured the Quincy Mines and visited the Calumet Theatre in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in July. She shares her adventures and insights about the copper industry in Coppertalk.
Above the surface of the mine we met with tour guide Carol Dolata who showed us the “Nordberg Steam Hoist,” an engineering feat that took one year to re-assemble inside a building that was designed specifically for the massive hoisting drum, steam engine, and operations. The thick steel rope or cable on the drum can reach up to 10,000 feet on the incline. The new hoist and building which cost the Quincy Mine Company more than $370,000 in 1918 could move larger 10-ton ore capacity skips (total weight 13 tons) at a rate of 3,200 feet per minute or about 36 miles per hour. The hoist, which was reconstructed in a reinforced concrete building with brick veneer and Italian tiled walls, served the Quincy Mine for only eleven years – from 1920 to 1931 – but it ran 24 hours a day. Today the massive steam hoist remains an engineering marvel and is still known as the world’s largest steam mine hoist. The building now contains many exhibits including the train layout representing the activities of the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad.
Our trip into the Quincy Copper Mine gave me and my family an appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices that were made both by the mine workers who risked their lives to provide a better future for their families and by the investors who risked a fortune to fund a copper mine.
Although we face an uncertain future today with change happening all around us, we can take encouragement and hope in the stories from the copper mining towns of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Places that have retained their beauty by carefully documenting the hopes and dreams of the past. Michigan’s “UP” is still known to locals and visitor’s alike as “Copper Country” because of its rich copper resources and a place that held promise for thousands of immigrants looking for a better life — people from Finland, Germany, Italy, Canada and a host of other countries who took risks to improve their lives. Starting in the 1840’s billions of pounds of ore was extracted from the basalt substratum of the Keweenaw Peninsula which still boasts some of the purest copper ever found. Although copper mining has ceased in this part of the country tourism has allowed local communities to embrace and to share their rich heritage.
- Quincy Mine Tours: www.quincymine.com
- Historical Information about Quincy Mine : www.keweenawheritagesites.org
- National Park site for Keweenaw www.nps.gov/kewe
- A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI www.museum.mtu.edu
- Adventure Mining company in Greeland, MI www.adventuremine.com
- Calumet Theatre in Calumet, MI www.calumettheatre.com
- Chasell Heritage Center, Chassell, MI www.einerlei.com/community/CHO.html
- Copper Range Historical Museum, Houghton, MI www.pasty.com/crhm
- Coppertown Mining Museum, Calumet, MI www.uppermichigan.com/coppertown
- Delaware Copper Mine, Copper Harbor, MI www.copperharbor.org/site_files/del_mine.html
- Finnish American Heritage center, Hancock, MI www.finlandia.edu/Department/FAHC/fahc.html
- Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Copper Harbor, MI www.michigan.gov/historicfortwilkins
- Hanka Homestead Museum, Pelkie, MI (906) 334-2601
- Houghton County Historical Museum, Lake Linden, MI www.houghtonhistory.org
- Keweenaw County Historical Society, Eagle Harbor, MI www.keweenawhistory.org
- Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s, Calumet, MI www.pasty.com/heritage
- Laurium Manor Mansion Tours, Laurium, MI www.laurium.info
- Old Victoria, Rockland, MI www.oldvictoria.net
- Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum, Ontonagon, MI www.ontonagonmuseum.org
- U.P. Firefighters Memorial Museum, Calumet, MI – Built in 1898, the historic “Red Jacket Fire Station” features displays dedicated to the history of firefighting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (906) 337-4579