TwHP Lessons

The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth


Photo of the historic No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse in Franklin, MI; Historic American Engineering Record collection at the Library of Congress
(Library of Congress)

For over 100 years, men ventured deep into mineshafts to reach the valuable copper deposits of Michigan's upper peninsula. The copper that passed through the Quincy Mining Company's candlelit No. 2 Shaft in the 19th century might have become a button on the uniform of a Civil War soldier, a wire for one of the first telephone poles, or part of the early electrical grid. Who produced this metal and how did they live? What was it like to work underground?

The workers who settled in the mining towns of “Copper Country,” the Keweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior, came from a variety of different ethnic European backgrounds, including Italian, Finnish, Slavic, German, Irish, and Cornish. Mining companies attracted immigrants to this sparsely populated area with its company towns, where there were houses, hospitals, libraries, and schools ready to be filled. Conflicts over this paternalistic relationship and ethnic tensions reached a boiling point in 1913, when membership in the Western Federation of Miners union swelled. That year, the unionized miners went on a famous and deadly 8-month-long strike that changed mining and the very social fabric of Keweenaw forever.

The historic No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse stopped copper mining operations in 1945. Today, it is a Keweenaw heritage site and a resource within the Keweenaw Historical Park.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
  1. Map 1: The Great Lakes Region.
  2. Map 2: The Keweenaw Peninsula.

Determining the Facts: Readings

  1. Reading 1: Quincy and Copper in the Keweenaw Peninsula
  2. Reading 2: Who worked for Quincy?
  3. Reading 3: Mining, Milling, and Smelting
  4. Reading 4: Strike!

Visual Evidence: Images
  1. Illustration 1: No. 2 Shaft-Rockhouse.
  2. Map 3: Quincy Mine Location, 1920 (detail).
  3. Photo 1: Mining copper by candlelight in a Quincy mine, 1890
  4. Photo 2: Miners Ready to Descend in a Quincy Man Car, 1902.
  5. Photo 3: Funeral Parade for Victims of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster.
  6. Photo 4: Quincy Stamp Mill Worker Housing
  7. Photo 5: Quincy Mining Company Agent's House

Putting It All Together: Activities
  1. What’s in a Name?
  2. A Conversation about Worker Safety
  3. Mining in the U.S.A.
  4. The Company’s or the Community’s Town

Supplementary Resources

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Keweenaw National Historical Park


This lesson is based on the Keweenaw National Historical Park, the Quincy Mining Company Historic District National Historic Landmark, Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mills Historic District, and the historic No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse, all located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. These places are among the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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