The 1920’s era casting plant at the Quincy Smelting works was built primarily for one reason: to house the automating casting machine built to supplement the newly minted No.3/No.5 combo furnace installed in the old reverberatory furnace buildings. The machine greatly increased the speed of the casting process as well as cut down dramatically the amount of man hours required for the process. The machine can be seen in this plan for the building, sitting just to the right of the No.5 furnace from which it drew it molten copper. The question was whether the machine had survived all these years without succumbing to scrappers and was perhaps still intact within the casting plant’s bowels. We were about to find out…
After first entering the structure we were immediately taken back by the immense volume hold within its walls. This was just a massively large space, that stretched several stories up above our heads. Unfortunately most of the roof had fallen victim to time, leaving only a spider-web of trusses and beams above our heads. As a result a great deal of light – and rain and snow – makes its way down onto the casting floor. Things weren’t looking good for our casting machine.
Leaving the awe-inspiring space above our heads behind for the moment, we directed our gaze downward across the sprawling landscape before us. The openness above betrayed the scattered and cluttered panorama along the building’s casting floor. Broken equipment, abandoned tools and supplies, and the remains of the roof and surrounding windows were scattered about everywhere in what looked more like a junk yard then an abandoned industrial building.
Looking eastward along the building’s southern wall we were confronted with piles of wood palletts, old copper ladles, and a steel drum or two. At the far end of the building was an enclosed room, with a small doorway on our end. We walked down a spell to take a closer look.
The small building turned out to be what looked like a scale house, complete with a large scale still inside. Due to its location within the casting plant I would assume this scale house was used to weigh the outgoing ingots or other castings produced here. Sitting above it can be see the operators platform of the overhead crane that spans the buildings interior.
Turning around we switched our attention to the opposite end of the building – towards what use to be the No.4 furnace building. There we could make out the new No.5 combo furnace in the distance, along with a pile of machinery in the foreground. Could this be the casting machine, or at least what was left of it?
Turns out it was, though not as intact as I would have liked. In the shot above you can make out one of the machines major components – its circular casting wheel on which a continuous line of ingot molds would have made its way in front of the furnace for casting. And to the right, buried under a pile of debris, would have been a water bath in which those ingots would have been dropped to cool.
Now that we found what we were looking for, it was time for a closer look…
To learn more about the casting plant and its history be sure to visit the Quincy Smelter Blog for their own virtual tour of the site.
To view more photos from the Quincy Smelter – including some awesome wide angle imagery – be sure to check out the Quincy Smelter Gallery at David Clark Photography!
And of course, if you have any photos of your own to contribute to the discussion, make sure to post them over at the Copper Country forum’s Quincy Smelter Thread.