Quincy Smelting Works

“The Quincy Smelting Works is the last of the last, a lone remnant of an industrial juggernaut that once lined the Portage Waterway for miles. Like her shoreline brethren, the Quincy complex existed only to serve its copper masters, and when the copper empire died she died along with it. As time marched forward the sprawling industrial ruins around her were sacrificed to the region’s new master – tourism. The shoreline on which smelters, foundries, warehouses, and coal docks once stood were transformed to parks, boardwalks, and rows of townhouses. But through it all the Smelter has remained. Though battered and bruised and showing her age, the old gal continues to remind us all of the copper country’s rich industrial heritage.”

A Reverberatory Furnace

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When it was first built in 1898 Quincy’s furnace building was home to a total of four reverberatory furnaces. The furnaces had a combined monthly capacity of 1600 tons with each furnace having the capacity of smelting 36,000 pounds of mineral in a 24 hour period to produce an average …

The Furnace Building

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At the heart of any smelting operation is the furnace, where the actual work of melting and refining takes place. At the Quincy Smelting Works that furnace was of the reverberatory design, utilizing natural draft and a reflective (reverberating) thermal dynamic to convert the copper ore into molten metal. The …

Inside the Briquetting Plant

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A typical briquetting plant is essentially a mixing and pressing operation, utilizing generally two primary ingredients: the material to be made into briquettes and the binding agent necessary for that to happen. Those two agents are then mixed thoroughly and mechanically pressed into a small cylinder which is then cut …

Bins and Briquettes

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The minerals arriving to the Quincy Smelter were historically of two basic types – small to medium sized pieces referred to as barrel copper and larger more substantial pieces known as mass copper. Both of these types were easily smelted in the complex’s furnaces without much difficulty. But as stamping …

Inside the Mineral House

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The Quincy Smelter’s mineral house was a vital component of the company’s move to minimize its labor overhead and streamline its ore handling process. This was primarily accomplished through the use of 24 mineral storage bins, place in two back-to-back rows through the center of the building. These bins were …

The Mineral House

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The Quincy Smelter’s Mineral House (marked with an arrow) was built in 1904 to replace the old railroad warehouse sitting in front of it. While the Quincy Smelting Works were constructed in 1898, the complex wouldn’t acquire a dedicated mineral house for six more years. In those early years copper …

Welcome to the Quincy Smelter

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The Quincy Smelting Works is the last of the last, a lone remnant of an industrial juggernaut that once lined the Portage Waterway for miles. Like her shoreline brethren, the Quincy complex existed only to serve its copper masters, and when the copper empire died she died along with it. …