The House of Three Faces

The Remains of an Old Pewabic Hoist House Turned Quincy Dry

The Pewabic Mine’s legacy is forever memorialized by the great copper bearing lode that shares its name. Unfortunately the young mine’s fate was not to be as fortunate as such a discovery would seem to predict, as the mineralization of the lode along the Pewabic’s property was not nearly as rich as had been hoped. It turned out that the real riches sat just to the south along property held by the Pewabic’s far more fortunate neighbor – the Quincy. This disparity reached it inevitable conclusion when in 1891 the Quincy purchased its former rival for the sum of a million dollars.

Yet Quincy was interested in far more than just bragging rights. It was also looking to continue its pillaging of the Pewabic lode by utilizing its neighbor’s lands to push its mine further to the north along the same lode that had served it so well. Central to this plan was the re-opening of the Pewabic’s No.6 shaft, a shaft that would become more commonly known as “North Quincy”. Along with the new name came a new surface plant, built out of the remnants and ruins left behind by the abandoned Pewabic.

approaching north quincy

Approaching the North Quincy today finds that surface plant to largely be buried by an enveloping landscape that had largely hid it behind a veil of trees and brush. Yet those gray rock walls still managed to penetrate through the haze just enough for us to realize we were looking at something man-made hiding out in the foliage. Getting even closer reveals the presence of two structures – a gabled roof stone structure along with an accompanying stone smokestack. Garnering our attention first was the smokestack.

the stack

It was clear that these were not structures built by Quincy. Absent were the fine lines and sandstone details that we have come to expect from Quincy’s offerings. Instead the stack was rather rudimentary, plain and uninspired in its construction. This makes sense considering these particular structure were actually originally built by the Pewabic in service of the North Quincy’s predecessor – the Pewabic No.6.

Originally this stone base would have been complimented by an iron stack growing up out of its cap – a piece long removed for scrap. Also missing is the iron flue which would have once connected the stack to the neighboring boiler house, though the iron-framed opening marking the flue’s location does remain.

the old boiler house

The presence of the smokestack would seem to make the purpose of the neighboring building clear – it was most likely a boiler house. Yet that wasn’t quite the case as that adjacent building seems to have underwent some major alterations during its life. The most notable being the concrete-walled addition plastered onto its front facade.

That concrete clashed significantly with the stone and brick materials used across the rest of the structure, which made us think we were looking at a later addition. Such an addition would be done to serve as an airlock of sorts, to keep the cold air of the winter from entering the building when people entered. Yet such an addition seemed odd for a boiler house – as its interior would always be hot. Perhaps this wasn’t a boiler house after all.

hoisting cable access

Another clue to the building’s past is this large brick arch found on its backside. Such an arch is not decorative, but instead would have marked the location of a large opening that would have once been found beneath it. Such a large opening would only be needed for one thing – as a passthrough for hoisting cables. Evidently that large opening was later closed in and replaced with two smaller windows now found in its place. This would mean that in addition to serving as a boiler house this particular building also once served as a hoist house.

windows

Moving our way along the building’s perimeter we find more windows – each featuring those red brick arches over their tops. Some of the windows featured bars across their lower thirds – a weird addition that we had not seen before. Also noted along the way was a small brick framed opening that most likely once housed a steam pipe.

Most notable here is the lack of covering over one of the windows – what we found to be an invitation to take a look inside to see what else could be found.

a view inside

Another surprise. Inside were no boilers nor even a hoist. Instead our gaze set upon lines of rusty lockers half buried in the remains of a collapsed roof. This would seem to suggest that not only was the building once a hoist and boiler house, it was also apparently a dry house at some point in it’s history as well. Though surprising, the evidence quickly began to pile up further as we continued our stroll around the building’s perimeter.

old boots

It was then that we found these interesting artifacts partially buried in the dirt – items that looked to be old discarded boots. While one was just the sole, the other featured a bit more. We’ve seen these items before at other dry house remains, most notable of which was at the Iroquois. It’s possible these boots belong to miners as leftovers from the dry house that once occupied this building.

By this point we were certain that we were indeed looking at a dry house, one that had been converted from an older hoist/boiler house. Our guess was that the hoist/boiler role was the building’s original function – provided to it by the Pewabic Mine itself. After Quincy took over and built its own hoist house the old hoist and boiler house was no longer needed. Instead the building’s proximity to the shaft made it a perfect candidate to house a new dry.

an artists view

Here’s a look at what the old dry/hoist/boiler house ruins look like, thanks to a drawing provided by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). This drawing was done in the 1970s, but today it looks largely the same save for the absence of the building’s roof.

the Quincy dry

Here’s another photo courtesy HAER, this one showcasing the old building back when it was in use as the North Quincy’s dry house. Turns out our assumptions about the building were correct. The building originally served as the engine house for the Pewabic’s No.6 shaft – a shaft that would later serve as the North Quincy shaft. By the time Quincy had arrived, however, the old engine house had been stripped of its equipment and left to ruin. Though no where near large enough to serve in the same capacity for Quincy, the building’s close proximity to the shaft made it the perfect candidate as a dry house.

The Quincy went to work filling in the hoist cable slots and adding a concrete “airlock” entrance on its back wall. Inside it installed lines of lockers on two levels – a lower main floor and a second gallery level lining the outer walls of the upper attic space. Running water was piped to the building and both wash basins and showers were installed. A hot water heater was placed into the attack, heated by steam from the Quincy’s own steam network.

a view inside

Here’s a look at what the inside of the newly converted structure looked like after Quincy got through with it. Once again thanks to the Library of Congress and their HAER collection of drawings which created the originals this image is based off.

This converted dry house would serve Quincy’s efforts at the No.6 shaft for decades, surviving well into the 20th century. It would close its doors along with the rest of the mine in the 1930s. It along with the rest of the old surface plant would stand derelict for another couple decades. Unfortunately fire would destroy the soaring shaft house in the 1950s, leaving the dry house standing alone alongside the road. Soon it would become enveloped by the forest encroaching around it, leaving little to mark the location of old North Quincy to be found today.

 

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8 Comments

  1. The shaft “cap” at #6 may be the coolest in the whole Copper Country! I was just there this weekend, peering into the depths and wondering how deep the shaft is, what angle it was sunk at and when it operated. Though I have been to Quincy many times in the past 25 years, I had surprisingly not seen the shaft and it’s corresponding cap until this past weekend. The HAER drawings are excellent and what a great source. I would think those drawings would coincide with the arrival of Larry Lankton and Charlie Hyde at Quincy?

    1. You betcha. Drawings by the 1978 HAER team. Architectural team was led by Richard Anderson, perhaps the best delineator ever at HAER, who unfortunately died in 2017.

  2. When is a good time to get up there and explore these ruins? I’m guessing spring or fall for less foilage covering everything up. I’m hoping to make it up next year.

    1. I would think so, Vic. Summer is great too (for the weather) but you can see more if you are less familiar with a location when the leaves are off the trees. Winter is fun too though, especially if you enjoy skiing or snowshoeing around some of the ruins. I hope to ride my dirt bike around on the various ATV trails this summer and see some things that may be new (to me). I always notice something new when in up north.

    2. Unfortunately, prime spring viewing time generally coincides with blackfly season, so fall might be better. Skeeters are also an issue throughout the warm weather season, so make sure to have plenty of bug spray.

  3. Hi to everyone that both reads and contributes to this site. Thanks to Mike for all his work in creating and working on the site over the years, and also all of your insights that make it even better. It scratches an itch I got back when I first set foot in the Keweenaw on my honeymoon 20 years ago and saw my first remains of the copper empire. Been a CCE fan for years and have read through pretty much the entire site, but never commented or contributed before.
    I took the whole family up to the Keweenaw exploring for the first time mid August last year, and it’s not a bad time to go. Temps are good and bugs weren’t bad at all, but I’d really like to get up there in the fall when the trees are bare but it’s not too cold. I know we missed seeing a lot that was right in from of us just because of the full foliage. For example, we went down Tecumseh road along the Osceola 3-6 mines and we missed the #3 surface plant, and the #5 hoist foundation, which are both clear on current aerial images.
    While I’m in Marquette just a couple hours south, we don’t get the chance to get up there often, so I used this site, MIke’s “Copper Empire Volume I” map book, Google maps on my phone, and Lawrence Molloy’s “A Guide to Michigan’s Historic Keweenaw Copper District” to both plan where to go, and navigate and figure out what we were looking at while actually out exploring. Since then, I’ve continued to use them all, plus Google Earth to locate more and more to go see on future visits. Last year’s favorite for the kids was the Champion Mill, which they refer to as “Jerusalem” because they though that’s what it looks like.
    One mine location I haven’t found much on is what marked as likely new Allouez 1 & 2 in the CCE “The Name Game” post marked as “H” and “I” on the map. Anyone have any familiarity with them? I’ve gotten kind of lit up about the idea of contributing a guest post if I can find somewhere that hasn’t already been covered, or alternatively cover parts of sites that haven’t been covered before. I don’t have access to a four wheeler, but have recently become aware that there are quite a few ATV trails over the old railbeds that are both maintained wide enough and legal for me to drive my SUV on, particularly along the Bill Nichols trail from Houghton on south. Turns out I was actually on parts of it down around the Champion last year without even realizing it, and since the trains served the mines, it’s an ideal way to get up close to them. Anyway, I thought it would be a nice way to express my appreciation for CCE if I could make a contribution like that.

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