Just north of Hancock, Michigan in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula is the Quincy Mine. It’s been closed over 70 years, but tours are available. During our 2017 Michigan Tour, Chuck convinced me it was time to slay my fears and journey nearly one mile into the side of a hill and explore a bit of history. This was kind of a big deal for me.
Quincy Mine Tour
Way back when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper, I toured a copper mine with my parents. The memory is a bit faded and tattered with flashes of bright light, snatches of a scraping sound interspersed with water dripping on my hard hat and finally my parents making me throw a rock into a bottomless pit. I’m sure their intentions were virtuous, but I still have an irrational fear of caves and enclosed spaces. Especially ones that require hard hats. Chuck assured me this was my opportunity to confront my fear.
The kind ladies in the Quincy Mine Gift Shop, listened to my story and nodded their heads and said “Yes, they’d heard this story before but this is not the mine I toured as a child. If I toured a mine in the late 60’s or early 70’s, it would have been the Arcadian.” Then they sold us two tickets and directed us to the Keweenaw National Historical Park informational desk for information. The Quincy Mine is run by the Quincy Mine Hoist Association, which is a partner with the Keweenaw National Historical Park. There is also a fantastic website called Copper Country Explorer with a whole section called Scrapbook Fridays, which includes a post about the Arcadian Mine. Yep, the Arcadian Mine was definitely the one I toured as a wee lass. The pictures brought that memory into focus!
The Quincy Mine Tour starts at the Museum, which adjoins the 1894 No. 2 Hoist Building. You watch a movie to get up to speed on the Quincy Legacy and select your gear for the tour. They provide warm, rugged, canvas jackets and hard hats. You should probably wear warm, sturdy shoes. I did not. Chuck questioned my shoe selection at the start of the day. I assured him I’d be fine. I was sick of wearing hiking boots after slogging around in them for 5 days while we hiked on Isle Royale.
Nordberg Steam Hoist
A few fun facts I learned:
- It is the world’s largest steam-powered hoist engine.
- The origins of “balls-out.” Go ahead and Google it or better yet, visit the Quincy Mine.
Quincy Mine Cog Wheel Tram
The tram ride was the first leg of our journey into the Quincy Mine. After reaching the bottom of the hill overlooking the Lift Bridge between Hancock and Houghton you board a wagon and ride one-half mile into the bowels of the Quincy Mine.
The Quincy Mine Tour
Our guide was top-notch. He was passionate and knowledgeable about the mine and the social context for the miners. He brought to life the dangerous working conditions and the community where the miners lived.
If you are in the Keweenaw Peninsula over the summer, stop for a mine tour. The Tour Season is limited, so check their website for details.
You can find more pictures of our mine tour in our gallery.
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