Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad

“Quincy Mine – along with C&H to the north and Copper Range to the South – were the three biggest mines on the copper range. Their influence was strong and far reaching, lasting for almost two centuries. All three built expansive surface plants, ports, smelters, stamp mills, roads, and a network of railroads to rival any industrial area of the United States. When it comes to railroads, Quincy’s contribution was a short line that ran from its Stamp Mill on Torch Lake to the crest of Quincy Hill overlooking the Portage and the port cities. The Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad.”

Ten Years a Ruin

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CCE has been exploring the Copper Country for ten years now, documenting along the way the ruins and remnants of the region’s great Copper Empire. Those ruins we find today have been shaped by the passage of time – formed by decades of abandonment, weather, and the indifference of man. In …

Forsaken No Longer

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The ruins at the Quincy Mine are incredibly diverse, running the gambit between massive rock houses and hoisting engines to small steam engines and underground rock cars. No matter the size or complexity, though, the Quincy Mine Hoist Association and its teams of like-minded volunteers work hard to preserve these …

Homeward Bound

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An integral component of any mining empire was the railroad. These iron beasts of burden worked tirelessly to transport materials between not only mines and mills but also between city and countryside and region to region. Though indispensable, they were not  immortal. As the empire died so too did the railroads, and …

Numbers One and Five

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When the Quincy Mill sat just a short mile down the hill all that was required to transport copper to it was a gravity-powered tramway. When the mill was moved six miles to the east, something a bit more extensive would be required. Thus was born the Quincy and Torch …

Back from the Dead

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The Quincy Roundhouse is one of many historic structures from the old Quincy Mine to have survived the last century relatively intact, thanks largely to the efforts of the Quincy Mine Hoist Association which have been caretakers of the old mine site since 1961. While originally the non-profit entity was …

More Quincy Rock Cars

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I would have to admit that after three years of exploring the Copper Country there isn’t too much that surprises me anymore. Hoist foundation? Check. Boiler Stack foundation? Check. Rock House foundation? Check. The list is the same each time, almost no matter where I go. But then there are …

A Typical Rock Car (p2)

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A typical stamp mill was a gravity-run operation, relying on gravity to do all the heavy lifting. To harness the power of gravity, stamp mills were normally built along the side of a steep hill in a step-stair fashion. Each “step” was another part in the process, with gravity transporting …

Derailed? (p2)

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If your looking off into the woods when walking the old Q&TL grade just east of the roundhouse you are bound to find the wrecked tender sitting upside down. Its rather large and hard to miss. The second car that sits wrecked nearby is a little harder to find. We …

Derailed? (p1)

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Today we revisit a site we have been to previously – the Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad. This railroad served the Quincy Mine, running ore and coal up and down Quincy Hill from the mine to the mill on Torch Lake. We had walked along this old rail line over …

Back to the Roundhouse

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We return today to the Quincy & Torch Lake Roundhouse – at least what’s left of it. Since our last visit to the site over a year ago some more rehabilitation work has been undertaken on the structure. Along with a great deal of the other ruins at Quincy, the …

A Train Forgotten

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The railroad we walked on was in operation for over 50 years. Lines of rock cars moved up and down it every day for all those yeas. Then, one day, it simply stopped. The workers simply left, leaving everything where it was. Some things were sold; some were dismantled. Other …

Mystery Mark

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We have seen our fair share of graffiti on the ruins and relics of the Keweenaw. But after a few hours along the Quincy and Torch Lake we found a recurring mark on the relics we were finding which begged further explanation then simple graffiti. Both the upside down tender …

An Abandoned Rail Car

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the quincy #2 complex as seen along the Q&TL Moving past the cog-rail, we rejoin the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad on its journey east. High up on the hill beyond we could make out the silhouettes of the Quincy #2 complex, now the only remnants of a vast industrial …

The New Q&TL

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After a short distance traveling along the trail, we came to a clearing. In front of us, crossing the trail and blocking our path, was a rail line. This line, however, was intact and relatively new looking. What’s more, it was actually three rails. The rails on the outside were …

Derailed and Derelict

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Riding along the ridgeline overlooking the Portage valley, the engineers of the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad must have had quite the view from the cab of the engine. At the turn of the century this entire hillside was cleared completely from any tree that could block the view. A …

The Water Tank

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A railroad is more then rails, locomotives and rail cars. There is also an extensive amount of support buildings that are built to service the railroad. For the Q&TL, this included the roundhouse, various water towers, and two turntables. Maps of the line clearly show one of those turntables sitting …