When the new No.3/No.5 combo furnace was installed at the Quincy Smelting Works, a large component of the new system was an automatic casting mechanism. This machine was housed in a large steel-framed extension added to the east end of the No.5 furnace building, a structure known as the Casting Plant. Together with the No.3/No.5 combo furnace the casting plant completed a highly efficient and cost effective system installed at a time of shrinking profits and low copper production. The result was a smelting plant that managed to stay in business for another half century.
Unlike the smelting works’ original structures which were erected with sandstone, the casting plant reflected a leaner time and was instead built using steel. Standing over three stories in height the building’s steel skeleton was in-filled with a generous supply of large windows, most spanning two stories in height. Most of these windows were for the sake of ventilation, as the casting process produced a great deal of heat and steam within the building’s spacious confines.
Though one of the last buildings erected at the site, the casting plant today is in rough shape. Most of its windows have since been shot out, and a great deal of the corrugated siding has fallen victim to gravity.
Though more than three stories in height, the cavernous innards of the structure was mostly filled with nothing but empty space – which is easily discerned by taking a look into its gaping window openings.
A large set of doors sits at the building’s eastern end. This opening was most likely used to remove equipment for maintenance or repair, or to bring new equipment into the building. Finished ingots would have been transported out a similar set of doors in the buildings south side – closer to the furnace itself.
What’s interesting in this picture is the glimpse of the large overhead crane seen through the windows, a crane that would have ran the entire length of the building.
The travelling crane was one of only two large pieces of equipment that called the casting house home. At the building’s far western end was the No.5 furnace itself, whose fiery copper entrails would have been tapped and sent to the neighboring casting machine. An automated casting machine – a customized Walker unit – takes up a majority of the western half of the structure. The rest of the building’s interior is simply open floor space, where copper ingots would be collected before moving off to the neighboring warehouse.
After taking a loop around the building’s rather bland exterior facades, we preceded inside to see what was left of the old casting machinery that once called the building home…
If you have any photos of your own of the smelter or wish to contribute your own exploration stories, make sure to post them over at the Copper Country forum’s Quincy Smelter Thread!