IndustryQuincy Smelting Works

Tramways (p2)

The slag skimmed from the furnaces was not simply a waste product that could be disposed of right away. While consisting primarily of waste rock there was still a fair amount of copper to be found as well. To remove those last remaining drops of copper the slag would be processed further in the cupola furnace. Transporting the slag to the cupola furnace was the responsibility of the complex’s tramway system.

Here’s another look at the smelter’s complete tramway system. The slag portion of this system starts at the reverberatory furnace building, specifically at its west doorway. From there all the slag collected from the furnaces would be hauled over to the cupola building’s main elevator and hoisted up to the building’s second floor where it would be loaded into the cupola furnace.

Sitting just outside the furnace building’s west door is this small piece of rail that was once part of that slag removal system. From here cars full of hot slag would make their way over to the Cupola Building.

Later – with the installation of the new No.4/5 combo furnace – a secondary spur of the tramway was added to the mix. This elevated trestle carried fresh slag from the No.3/5 combo furnace directly to the cupola building’s second floor for loading into the blast furnace. At some point it appears that a few of the trestle’s support pillars were cut out – though for what reason I don’t know. The haphazard manner in which it was done, however, makes me think it was a more recent occurrence, long after the trestle was no longer being used.

Here’s another view of that trestle, this one showing it in its entirety. This trestle actually served two purposes, as it was also used to bring coal into the cupola building destined for the boiler complex’s coal bin.

Once the slag’s remaining copper was removed in the cupola furnace, it could then be dumped as waste into the facilities slag dump. The slag was carried to this dump atop a long elevated trestle which made its out of the back of the Cupola building’s second floor and across several lanes of Mineral Range tracks before arriving a the slag dump.

From the ground this trestle is rather impressive, rising over 25 feet into the air. Most of the trestle is still intact (though the rails and ties have been removed), except for its last section which made its way over the slag pile itself.

As the smelter’s main slag pile began to grow too large for its own good, Quincy cleared space for a new pile on the facility’s east end. This second pile seems to have never quite taken off, but the tramway from which the molten slag would have been dumped still stands to this day. Interestingly this particular trestle seems to have been covered at one time, for what reason I’m not sure.

Here’s another view of that second slag trestle, this time taken from the tramway approach itself. As you can see here there is very little slag to speak of at its base. It seems to have only been used to dump off tram cars.

Just to the north of that second slag trestle stands another raised set of tracks. This particular trestle was used to deliver coal up to the new No.3/5 combo furnace’s upper coal bins. At its opposite end was the facilities coal yard.

Here’s another view of that same trestle as it enters the No.5 furnace building. In this photo you can also make out that elevated mineral tramway as well, sitting off just to the right. Both trestles make their way inside over the No.3/No.5 combo furnace before connecting up with the elevated slag trestle which makes its way to the Cupola Building.

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

To learn more about the smelter’s tramways 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.

Show More


  1. The frames around the reverberatory trestle (at the east end of the site, outside the fence) may have held the overhead trolley wire used to power the slag locomotive. A few of the locomotives they used were completely battery powered, while others were powered through a battery/trolley combination.

  2. Is there a referance which indicates that the tresstle shown in photos 7 & 8 is for future or additional slag dump? The supports look like they were designed for easy removal of whatever was placed benieth it in the area, this would not be the case if slag were to be dumped there, and the area is rather small. I think that this locatoion woud have been used to store some other material that would be later used. Also, on the HAER sufface map, there looks like there is plenty of space at the slag dump to the north. And if needed, all they had to do was slope the tracks up so the dump location was higher than the current top of the slag pile, making the slag pile higher. based on the sloping tracks elsewhere in the facility, the locomotives could handle the grade with a load.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *