Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fire at the Quincy Smelter site

Last night and early this morning, several local fire crews responded to an emergency call about a structure fire at the site of the historic Quincy Smelting Works.  The smelter, built in 1898, is the last copper smelter standing in the Keweenaw Peninsula. I have heard many people claim that this is one of last and best preserved nineteenth and early twentieth century copper smelters in the world.

The buildings that burned were the Carpenter Shop and it's Lumber Shed.  The smelter blog included pictures taken of these two buildings before the fire, along with a description of their history:
The Quincy Smelter's Carpenter Shop and Lumber Shed from the blog:

More photographs and text about the support buildings were posted by the Copper Country Explorer:

The fire started at about 11 pm on Saturday night.  Due to it's location on the water in Ripley, the fire was visible from all over downtown Houghton.  Here is the "stub" story in the Mining Gazette:
The Daily Mining Gazette's photo in their coverage of the fire.

Photos of the event are finding their way to media sites like

This morning I went down to see the damage.  I am very grateful to the firefighters for working so hard to save the Stock House, which was scorched by the heat, and the other buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Carpenter Shop.  Here are some pictures from my cell phone camera of the ruined buildings this afternoon:


  1. It would be ashame if it was arson as one article I read indicated. Just ashame.

  2. It's hard to think it would be anything but arson - I can't think of any ignition sources - there is no power to the site, and there was no storm.

  3. The building had been fit with electricity recently, so there was power going in that could have caused a problem. It is very early to jump to conclusions, so I am waiting for the fire investigation. I hope that it turns out to have been teenage kids screwing around. While that sounds strange to say, I would hate for this to have been an accident from the electrical work, since that might discourage the township voters and lead to decisions to tear down more buildings and avoid wise re-use of the property in order to mitigate safety risks. Alternately, if the buildings were deliberately burned by someone angered by the slow pace of planning and progress toward preservation that will hurt the community deeply and drive additional wedges between stakeholder groups.