Supports a milling museum

To the editor:

Congratulations to the Keweenaw National Park Advisory Commission, and the Park, for purchasing the Quincy Smelter property. The National Park, which is trying to tell the story of copper mining in the Keweenaw, is one important step closer to representing two thirds of the overall mining process, with a smelter, shaft house, hoist house and underground workings at the Quincy Mine. The problem is that milling, the other third of the mining-milling-smelting triumvirate is completely missing.

If the advisory board/park can come up with $335,000 to purchase the Quincy Smelter complex, what about coming up with similar funds to purchase one of the two remaining milling buildings that are still standing?

The Mineral Building (Hubbell) and the power plant (Lake Linden) are still intact. The obvious choice is the power plant building. It is privately owned, had just been decontaminated and is on property contiguous with the Houghton County Historical Society Museum . It could make an excellent milling museum. It is nothing but a big, tall open space that could house numerous examples of how all that ore was turned into copper concentrate (“mineral”) for the smelters.

Put a short elevator at one end of the building, and a gradual ramp in the center of the building gradually leading down to the ground, with examples of many of the actual equipment used to separate copper from rock lining the sides of the ramp to illustrate the gravity-driven operation of the mills.

Put examples of the more massive machinery at ground level along the building’s sides, along with other exhibits.

Cut some actual ball mills cut open to show how they worked. Make mock-ups of actual machinery: (Grizzleys, slime biddles, separators, Collom Jigs, grinding mills, Wilfley tables, etc. (Explain) why one grinding mill or stamp was better than another: (Chilean vs. Hardenge, or Drop vs. Ball vs. Leavitt vs. Nordberg).

Include the last remaining steam stamp. Recreate examples of an overshot water-wheel driven drop stamp. The mills/machine shops operated with belt driven machinery. The processes used in the floatation plants and leaching plants could be explained, and perhaps partially duplicated.

Our modern 3D-manipulation generation would have a field day doing computer animations of some of this.

The Keweenaw was home to one of the most sophisticated industries in the world, and is home to a first-class technological university, so why can’t we have a really good, informative technological museum explaining how it all was accomplished at a level intelligent people can appreciate?

Doug McDowell