For most mines along the Keweenaw shaft numbering was simple. The first shaft you sunk was the No. 1. Every shaft after that was named sequentially – working your way along the lode. Going from north to south, or vice versa, you would have the No.1, followed by the No. 2, then the No. 3 and so on. All pretty simple and easy to understand. Quincy did things a little differently. If you follow the lode from north to south you have the following order: No. 8, No. 6, No. 2, No. 4, No. 7. This always seemed wrong to me for a long time. At first glance it didn’t make much sense, and it looked like Quincy just arbitrarily named their shafts whatever they felt like at the time. Well, it turns out there was a method to their madness.
It was 1856 when Quincy started to take advantage of the copper-rich Pewabic Lode – sinking four shafts along its length. These were numbered from north to south as the No.1 through No.4 shafts. The most famous of these early shafts was the No. 2, which operated for the next 60 years. Originally these shafts were very simply structures, connected by tramways to a centralized rock house where the copper-rock would be crushed and sorted. Later, more modern combination shaft/rockhouses would be built atop of them (CORRECTION: No. 4 never received the treatment, check out the comments for info) – as seen in the photo of the No. 2 seen above.
Soon these original four shafts were joined by two more (No.5 and No.6), working the southern extension of the lode. Sinking several shafts in close proximity to each other was common practice in the exploratory stage of a mine. Several shafts provided more information about the lode, and made drifting and hoisting of poor rock much easier. But as a lode is mapped and drifted, these “extra” shafts become unnecessary and are no longer used to hoist rock. By 1872 all but two of these original shafts were abandoned, leaving just the No.2 and the No.4 to support the mine for the next 20 years. The photo above shows these shafts in their prime, with the No.4 in the foreground.
During Quincy’s rise to power in the mid 19th century there were six mines working the Pewabic Lode. The Quincy and Hancock worked the southern extension, the Pontiac and Mesnard worked the northern extension, and in the middle were the Pewabic and Franklin Mines. It was tight quarters, and Quincy pounced on the first of these mines to go under in order to expand its workings. This would be the Pewabic, which Quincy acquired in 1891. In the deal Quincy almost doubled its property while acquiring a shaft, hoist house, boiler house, and several other surface buildings. (including the boiler house and compressor house seen above)
In 1892 Quincy re-opened the Pewabic shaft in order to open up the northern extension of Quincy’s original working – which had previously been cut off by the Pewabic Mine’s boundaries. This shaft became known as North Quincy No.6, and featured Quincy’s first shaft/rockhouse combination. This set-up was so successful that Quincy retro-fitted its No.2 and No.4 shafts to features these shaft/rockhouse combo’s. To build the new shaft Quincy had to remove a great deal of the Pewabic Mine’s old waste piles and run the new hoist cable pulley-stands over the top of what remained. (as seen in the photo above)
Quincy had originally abandoned its shafts along the Pewabic Lodes southern extension because that had run into poor ground. Subsequent drifting from the No.4 to the south reveiled a great deal of copper-rich ground deep below the surface. In 1897 Quincy began sinking their next shaft – the No.7 – in order to access this rich ground. But instead of simply sinking the shaft from the surface as is customary, Quincy started at the other end – from underground. Starting from several drifts that had already been driven into the Pewabic’s southern extension, miners dug the mine upwards towards the surface. The No.7 was also unique as it was the first Quincy shafthouse to be built from steel – as seen in the photo above.
After acquiring the Pewabic Mine the next target on Quincy’s list was its new neighbor – the Franklin Mine. But unlike the Pewabic which had been a troubled mine from the start, the Franklin was in much better financial shape and wasn’t selling. Instead Quincy had to settle for buying up the last two mines along the Pewabic – the Pontiac and Mesnard Mines to the north of the Franklin Mine. With these purchases Quincy was able to open up yet another shaft which would become Quincy No.8, otherwise known as Mesnard No. 8. This shaft would never produce much copper, yet Quincy kept it in production for over a decade.
Last but not least in Quincy’s shaft inventory would be the ill-fated No.9. It was 1909 when Quincy was forced to abandoned the No.4 shaft. It also saw the end of the No.7 shaft – as it was nearing Quincy’s southern boundary. To make up for these losses, Quincy invested in re-opening an old shaft of the Pontiac Mine which it had acquired years earlier. The Pontiac Mine never had any luck at this location, and Quincy ended up with more of the same. Quincy kept sinking the shaft until 1913 when the strike shut it down. Although Quincy would have liked to keep it open, its location far removed from the rest of the Quincy property (at the intersection of Boston Road and US41) made it susceptible to trouble-making strikers determined to keep the shafts from operating. Instead of spending the extra money to protect it, Quincy simply shut it down for good.
By 1922 only two shafts were still operating: the No.2 and the No.6. Less then a decade later they would all close down for good – finally succumbing to the depression. Today only the steel shaft-rockhouse over the No.2 still stands, with only ruins remaining of all of Quincy’s other eight shafts. A good deal of semi-intact structures still manage to stand upon the property including the machine shop, blacksmith shop, No.4 surface plant, No.7 Boiler, No.2 surface plant, along with the boilers and dry house from the North Quincy. The Mesnard No. 8 still stands as well, except for a more modern headframe installed in the ’70s. To get a better idea of where these ruins sit today, be sure to check out my Quincy Mine Ruin Map via the link below.