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Quincy Mining Company

Founded in 1846 by the merger of the Northwest Mining Company and the Portage Mining Company (resulting from poor communication between government offices, these two speculative mining companies had purchased the same tracts of land during the mining rush of the early 1840s), the Quincy Mining Company is an extensive set of copper mines. Known more commonly as the Old Reliable, it operated through 1945 and was the leading producer of copper from 1863 to 1867.

By the time production ceased in 1945, the Quincy #2 shaft was the world's deepest, at 9260 ft along the dip of the deposit. To raise and lower workers and ore into this shaft, the world's largest steam-driven mine hoist was built in 1918 and housed in the Quincy #2 Hoist House. Weighing more than 880 tons, it lifted 10 tons of ore at about 36 mph.

The Quincy Mine operated for decades with almost no automation. It took about an hour or more for miners to climb down ladders by the light of the candles in their pit helmets. The company didn't even supply the candles: the miners had to buy them from the company.

Although in later years, the facilities for miners improved significantly — including reduced hours in a shift and better living conditions — helping Quincy Mining Company retain their services for longer periods of time and turn into one of the premier mining companies in the region.

What's The Story Here?

Imagine if you can: in the cold, musty belly of a copper mine — several hundred feet below the surface of our God's green earth and about one quarter mile down a tunnel — light peeping faintly from incandescent bulbs strung overhead, water dripping off the ceiling and cold air seeping from what seems like an abyss.

And now imagine: those faint electric lights turned off and replaced by a tiny candle. One miner holding a hand steel drill up to 3 ft in length while one or two other men using sledge hammers to manually drill holes in the hard basalt rock. A classic and genuine example of team work, partnership and each one being an extension of the other — for, if the miner(s) swinging sledge hammer missed, his (their) partner might lose the use of his hand(s)!

Once a series of holes were drilled, they inserted sticks of dynamite. The copper ore was then loaded by hand into cars by the trammers and pushed to the shaft. And to make matters worse, these men only were paid for the ore they brought out and not by the hour — making sure that slackers were put in their place since the fellow workers/partners didn't put up with such a behavior.

Attempting to capture as much of the working condition as possible as is, I shot a 30 second exposure which resulted in shadows that are barely seen with the naked eye.

In a 10 mile neighborhood ...

  1. Tracks To History
  2. Primrose
  3. Bleeding Hearts
  4. For richer or for richer!
  5. Spider Man Skiing
  6. Quincy Smelter
  7. Question n' Answer
  8. When The Wind Stood Still
  9. Cole
  10. Radiance

Drilling Through The Mine

Archive ID
Focal Length
Shutter Speed
Exp Bias
Light Value
HF Distance
Focus Distance
Depth of Field
Field of View
2011-08-14 10:35:51 -0400
47.13012 N, -88.57334 E, 800 ft
AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED
10.5 mm (35 mm equivalent: 15.0 mm)
30 second(s)
0.94 m
1.33 m
inf (0.55 m - inf)
99.9 deg (3.18 m)