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Don's Rail Photos

Quincy & Torch Lake RR

Quincy Mining Co.


Late in 1959, I was still living in Milwaukee where I grew up. There were a group of us who would chase trains, girls, and beer together. One day in early October, we decided to follow up on some rumors about a narrow gauge railroad in upper Michigan. We also heard that there was still something of the Ontonogon RR still remaining. So we headed north on a beautiful fall day. By the time we got to Ontonogon in the late afternoon, it was clouded over. We did find one of the ORR engines at National Paper Co., but that is a story for the short line pages. We went on to Houghton, and arrived at dusk. We looked for and quickly found the Quincy Mine. Here was history frozen in time. We went into the headhouse and were amazed at the lift engine. The drum was about 30 feet in diameter and about the same width. It sat up on a frame with large steam pistons on each of the 4 legs. We climbed up onto the operators platform about 15 feet off the floor. There we saw the indicator which showed over 5000 feet. The cables were gone. This entire machine was housed in a power house which had the feel of a cathedral. We then walked over to the roundhouse and found that we could just go right in. There were four narrow gauge locomotives just as they were when everything quit 13 years earlier. One was being rebuilt (there was an unused boiler sinking thru a flatcar out in front of the enginehouse). Work clothes were still hanging on the walls. A bearing block was in the shaper, waiting to be finished the next day which never came. It was totally awesome.

We found a hotel and got rooms. Then we found a place where we could have a few adult beverages. It was at a fairly early hour that we turned in as it had been a long day. Early the next morning we got up to find almost a foot of snow had fallen. We decided to try to find the route of the railroad to Torch Lake. The line ran near the highway east out of town. The river is quite a bit lower than the surrounding land. We first went east on a road on top of the hill. We planned to try to cross the track by heading to the river. We got to the top of the hill with a foot of snow. The slide down the hill was done with all 4 doors open and all 4 of us with our feet out to brake. The track was in for the most part, but it was in terrible shape. At the mine we photographed the following items. There were some ore car remains, but most of the things outside had been returning to nature for quite some time.

The guy in the pictures is Jerry Fisher from Racine. He went on to work for the government in the DOT. Does anyone know his whereabouts?

John Campbell has provided us with a photo of #3. This engine was built by Brooks in 1892 and is now at the Huckleberry RR at Flint, MI.


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