The Quincy Mining Company Collection
COLLECTION # MS - 001
Accession Number(s) : 518 (7-9-91,3-15-95,4-3-95); 555 (9-5-96)
Scope and Content Note:
Most early Michigan mining ventures centered on fissure and mass copper deposits, mainly in Keweenaw County and Ontonagon County. Development of other mineral lodes, particularly the amygdaloid and conglomerate deposits near Houghton, Hancock and what is now Calumet, was delayed due to the larger capital investments needed to profitably mine these poorer ore bodies whose copper was more finely disseminated throughout the rock. Leases for property on the Quincy hill area were mistakenly issued to two ventures, the Portage Mining Company and the Northwestern Mining Company, in the early 1840?s. Representatives of the two companies met in Marshall, Michigan on November 17, 1846 and the Quincy Mining Company was organized to resolve the land dispute. Bylaws were adopted on July 26, 1848 and explorations commenced within a year. Early mining work was in what was known as the Quincy lode, a poor amygdaloid deposit that never proved profitable. It wasn?t until 1858 that the company transferred their operations to the Pewabic lode, the ore body that would lead to Quincy?s greatest successes. The company?s first dividend was paid to shareholders on July 31, 1862. Over time, the company purchased additional property along the Pewabic lode, most notably the holdings of the Franklin, Pewabic and Mesnard Mining Companies, and developed shafts that reached an inclined depth of over nine thousand feet (over six thousand feet in vertical depth, or approximately five thousand feet below sea level), making it the deepest mine in the United States, and one of the deepest mines in the world for its time.
As the company developed the mine, improvements in surface and processing facilities added value to their shareholders? investment. Modern shaft houses, hoisting machinery (including the famed Nordberg steam hoist at the No. 2 shaft), rock-breaking machinery, a tram-road and a company-owned railroad, milling facilities on Portage and Torch Lakes, a reclamation plant to reprocess mine tailings, and an extensive smelting facility were built at sites throughout Houghton County. Quincy shareholders also invested in other mining ventures throughout the Keweenaw Copper district, often combining administrative and operational resources. The company provided houses, boarding houses, farms, bath houses, and community buildings to its workers and had significant involvement with local schools, churches and municipalities.
Due to the increasing cost of mining at such great depth and the low price of copper during the depression years, the company ceased its underground mining activity in 1931. Government regulated copper pricing allowed the mine to open briefly during World War II, but the continuing low price of copper after September 1945 forced the company to confine its operations to reclamation work on older mill tailings and custom smelting work. Before closing on May 6, 1967, the Quincy reclamation plant recovered nearly one hundred million of refined copper during its twenty-two years of operation. The Quincy smelting works continued scrap and custom work until the end of 1970. Although the company held the belief that copper prices might allow a profitable return to underground mining, and carried out exploratory work from time to time in the 1970?s and 1980?s, the mine has never reopened. Quincy stock ceased to be publicly traded in 1981 and the company has not been required to publish annual reports since that time. Various parts of the company?s Michigan property were sold or transferred to local entities (including the Michigan Tech Ventures Group and the Quincy Mine Hoist Association, a non-profit organization created to preserve and interpret Quincy?s history and the No. 2 Nordberg mine hoist). The Quincy Mining Company continued as a property investment corporation with offices on Madison Avenue and property holdings in the New York city area.
The Quincy Mining Company Collection documents the development of the company from its humble start in 1846 through the cessation of underground mining in 1931 and the sale and disbursement of its Michigan properties in the 1970?s and 1980?s. The collection includes corporate records, administrative correspondence, financial and legal documentation, employment and medical records, property and miners? housing records, as well as operational records from the company?s underground, surface, stamp mill, reclamation, railroad, and smelting operations. The collection also includes records of several mining companies related to the Quincy Mining Company which operated in Houghton, Ontonagon, and Keweenaw Counties and on Isle Royale. The Quincy Mining Company Collection contains very detailed records of all aspects of a copper mining company operating in Michigan?s Upper Peninsula. It contains great detail on the buildings, sites and communities created to mine and treat the copper ore, and provides surprisingly comprehensive coverage of the workforce employed the company.
The Quincy Mining Company Collection was created through donations from various individuals and companies. The largest amount of material came to the Michigan Tech Archives directly from the Quincy Mining Company in July 1991. Other donors include Charles Hyde, Louis Koepel, Mike Gemignani, Joanne Larsen, and the Quincy Mine Hoist Association. The collection was processed during 1994-1997 as part of a project to improve access to mining records at the Michigan Tech Archives. The project was supported through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Publications Commission, a division of the United States National Archives and Records Administration. It is intended that other Quincy material will be added to the collection as it becomes available. Researchers should contact the staff of the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections for further information about the collection.
Material Removed from Collection / Related Material: