IndustryQuincy Smelting Works

The Support Buildings (p1)

As we exited the boiler complex we were leaving behind the last of the Quincy Smelter’s main production facilities. But there was still – amazingly – a great deal of buildings still surviving at the site for exploration. These buildings were the smelter’s support buildings, smaller one-room structures which served specific niche needs of the facility. While these structures were scattered all throughout the smelter grounds, a great deal of them were concentrated along a short avenue on the complex’s west side – across the “street” from the Boiler House. These buildings included the cooper shop, supply house, lumber shed, oil house, and machine shop.

The Cooper shop was first built in 1898, but at the other end of the complex. It would be moved twice more before ending up here in its present location between 1917 and 1928. It was here that the wood barrels in which copper was shipped to the smelter were constructed. Later, after the erection of the mineral house and the end of barrel shipments the building was converted into a general carpenter shop.

Next door to this new carpenter shop is what I first thought was a large garage. Turns out this three door structure is a lumber shed – used to store the various lumber and supplies needed by the carpenters. The building protected the wood from the elements.

Next up is a large wood framed building originally labeled as cooper stock house. Just like its neighbor, this building was first built on the east side of the smelter complex, then moved here at a later date. When the copper shop was disbanded the building was converted into general storage.

From a look inside its open front door it looked as if the building was more recently used as a pipe house, or at least for pipe storage.

On the building’s north end are two more loading doors, in the same design and configuration as the front one. These, however, are far too close to the neighboring Machine Shop to be much use as loading doors. I would guess that these were from the building’s prior life as a cooper stock house, perhaps when the building was located at the other end of the complex.

Skipping the Machine Shop for now (we’ll feature it tomorrow), we make out way back across the street to this interesting sandstone building. The building’s small size and fireproof construction tipped us off immediately to its identity. This is the smelter’s oil house, where oil was stored and dispersed for use by the facilities’ various equipment and machines. Its design is very reminiscent of a mini powder house, which makes sense. Stored oil is almost as dangerous, at least when it comes to fire danger.

The confusing issue with this particular structure is its construction, in both material and style it mimics the adjacent Cupola Building complete with the same door header details. Unfortunately the building seemingly did not exist before 1928 – at least according to Sanborn maps. This would significantly after the construction of every other sandstone building on the site. A structure similar in size and shape is evident on the 1907 map, but it sits on the opposite side of the road next to the Machine Shop. While its possible the building was moved, it seems like an awful lot of work considering the sandstone construction.

Here’s another view of the oil house, this one showing the small wood frame shed sitting next door to it. This small shed looks to have been constructed to store pipe, as suggested by the great amount of pipes scattered about. This building is also missing from all Sanborn maps, so I have no idea when it was built or even if it was original to the smelter complex itself.

To Be continued…

The Quincy Smelter is private property and is open to the public only during special Quincy Smelter Association’s tours and events.

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.

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  1. Wayne Wesolowski has had modeling articles (May 1977 and September 1983) in Railroad Model Craftsman for both the Oil House and the Ladle Shed. He also had an article in Model Railroader (Not sure when) on how to build the concentrate cars that delivered the processed ore from the mill to the smelter.

  2. I’ll venture a guess at the construction of the oil house and say that the same principles apply for oil house that apply to a powder house. Build it with strong sides and a poptop roof.

  3. Jay, I think both were built under the “fire proof ” construction edict, one that dictates the use of masonry and concrete. As for thick walls, I don’t think the oil house walls were any thicker than other sandstone buildings, I just think its squat stature made it appear more so.

  4. Sad to say the coopper shop just burned down. The lumber shop appeared to burn pretty bad too but from my vantage point it didn’t look like it burned completely. Also the supply house likely got a little scorched too. Living just across the street i heard sirens at about 10:30 and went down to check it out. As a fellow copper country enthusiast it is all ways sad to see something like this happen, however, it was a neat sight to see the main smelting working works lit up by the fire against the moon. Hopefully some one got a good picture that can be shared on here.

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