Quincy’s first mill was built in 1860 along the Hancock waterfront, a mere 3000 feet down hill from the mine. Its location was extremely convenient and efficient for the mine, but a generation later it would prove to be a major liability. As with all stamp mills the Quincy facility produced a large amount of waste material – known as stamp sand – that ended up being dumped into the adjacent lake. Unfortunately for Quincy, those stamp sands were encroaching on the navigable channel within the lake – threatening to cut it off. The government soon issued a decree that the mill would have to be moved.
Quincy was left with few choices considering most prime waterfront had already been accounted for. In the end the company was forced to build its new mill some six miles from its mine at the southern end of Torch Lake. The new mill was opened in 1890 and featured the most modern and efficient equipment available at the time. The terraced wood structure housed a total of five steam stamps along with over a hundred complimenting jigs and slime tables. A line of rock bins at its upper level was filled by overhead rock cars, which came down from the mine on the mine’s own narrow-gauge railroad. Water was supplied to the mill by means of a nearby pump house, which provided over 21 million gallons of water a day.
In the decade to follow the rate of production at the mine grew dramatically, an increase that the mill’s current battery of stamps could not adequately handle. It became necessary for Quincy to construct yet another mill in 1900, this one just a hundred feet away from it’s current one. This new mill was smaller then the first – housing only a battery of three stamps – but it was of an improved design built with fireproof steel instead of wood like its older brother. The two mills were capable of stamping nearly a million tons of rock each year and produce some 20 million pounds of copper in the process.
NOTES: The remains of the Quincy Mills are one of the largest concentrations of ruins in the Keweenaw, and includes a collection of large and relatively intact structures. Mill No. 2 was demolished early and today only its massive concrete foundation remains along the wooded ridge-line. The ruins of the first mill consist mainly of a large concrete and brick structure along the side of the highway. Across the road stand the towering smoke stack from the boiler house and a red brick foundation that once supported the mill’s water pump.
DIRECTIONS: The Quincy Mills sit along tM26 just north of Mason. From Hancock follow M26 towards Lake Linden for six miles until you pass Mason. The first mill will be right along the road to the left. The second mill will be hidden behind some trees just a few hundred feet further, also on the left. The mill’s old boiler plant and stacks can be seen on the right.
FOR MORE INFO: A detailed exploration of the old Quincy Mill can be found at Copper Country Explorer.