As many times as I have been to the Houghton/Hancock area of the Keweenaw Peninsula I have yet to take a tour of one of its most prominent features, one of the reasons why these towns even exist – the Quincy Copper Mine!
Quincy Mine is really incredible. It is a series of 7 shafts with the deepest shaft, No. 2, teaching down 92 levels. Which is over 9,000 feet deep! The mine was open for about 100 years and turned a profit for over 60! It was the main provider of copper during WWII and Quincy copper can be found all of over the world to this day. The shafts all run, at a 55 degree angle, along the Pewabic fissure. The reason why the Keweenaw has Michigan’s highest peaks!
Quincy Mine’s claim to fame is their steam hoist. It is the largest in the world poured onto the largest slab of concrete in the world. The steam hoist is what brought the miners, copper and water up and down into the mine. Learning about this operation and just how much time it took to bring things back and forth, about all the safety protocols and about how the whole operation ran was so interesting.
Being a miner was unbelievably difficult and the conditions, even as the Industrial Age brought in lots of improvement, was still hard to hear about. The mine was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for decades. The constant humming of the engines could be heard throughout the peninsula. The miners worked 12 hour shifts and it took them upwards of an hour just to get to their position in the mine.
This tour is a must! It started off with a self guided tour of the main mine shaft, No. 2. We got to see the cars the miners rode in and how the copper rocks were all separated.
Then we moved into the steam hoist house where we watched a short video about the history. Our guide was a sweet, local woman. She showed us all around the steam hoist.
After that we got our hard hats and coats on and loaded up onto the cog train.
Instead of entering the mine how the miners did we took the train down the hill where we then loaded up on a trolly. This entrance is along the 7th floor and goes straight into the side of the hill. It was formerly used for ground water drainage and is the reason why we can even enter the mine today. All the floors beneath it are submerged.
Michigan Tech University expanded the drainage entrance when they were using the mine as a lab for their mining students. Check out the classroom! So cool!
We spent about 30 minutes in the freezing mine learning about all the different mining methods and we got to see where big swaths of rock were removed because it was speckled with copper.
It was a great day and our guide in the tunnel was very knowledgeable!
Later that evening, around sunset, Taylor and I decided to take a hike in Black Creek Nature Sanctuary.
We didn’t know what to expect, especially since the trail was a little over grown and I had the fear of ticks on my mind. But the payoff was worth it!
The end of the trail popped out along the Lake Superior shoreline! The sunset was beautiful and we were the only ones around. We spent a long while playing in the water and the dogs more than enjoyed themselves! It was perfectly peaceful, I could have spent forever in that spot!
We loved it so much that on the way back we looked at a few pieces of property! I think we figured out our future plans… absolutely magical!
#71 – Feeling gratitude for all the miners, hundreds lost their lives over the years. Also, mining is the reason my maternal great grandparents came to Michigan!
#72 – For perfect evenings with my three favorite beings on this planet. My emotions about most things are typically pretty weak. There isn’t too much I actually care a whole lot about, especially for an extended period of time, even though sometimes it may appear differently. At the end of the day, there are few things that will elicit a strong emotion from me; Taylor, Sophie and Gonzo are on the short list.
#73 – For our future.
#74 – For pristine Lake Superior.
#75 – For perfect sunsets.
#76 – For Saturday morning cuddles in bed with my crew!