The Quincy Dredge Number Two, originally known as the Calumet and Hecla Dredge Number One, is an important piece of industrial history. It is currently submerged in shallow water in Torch Lake, just across M-26 from the Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mills Historic District, near Mason in Osceola Township. This dredge was constructed with the primary purpose of reclaiming stamping sand from the lake for further processing. It was recognized for its historical significance and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1978.

Quincy Dredge State History Site listingQuincy Mining Company

From 1898 until 1967, the Quincy Mining Company operated a smelter in Ripley. This was where copper was processed first from its mines and later from a reclamation plant. This smelter complex was strategically built on the stamp sand of the Pewabic mines’ mill. The smelter continued to operate, melting scrap copper until 1971. The complex includes several historically significant structures. There is a three-story blast furnace, known as a cupola. The original 1898 furnace building with a 1904 addition for more reverberatory furnaces. Lastly, a 1910 addition that housed an automatic casting machine. Additionally, a sandstone-faced mineral warehouse, built in 1904 and accessible via a 460-foot trestle, stands on the site. Other notable buildings include three rectangular warehouses, a concrete block briquetting plant constructed in 1906. There are also three small warehouses, a powerhouse, a casting house, a carpenter and cooper (barrel-making) shop, a machine shop, and a laboratory.

The Reclaiming Sand Dredge was specifically constructed for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company in 1914 by the Bucyrus Company of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was initially designated as the Calumet and Hecla Dredge Number One. The primary function of this dredge was to reclaim sand that had been previously milled and deposited into the lake after processing through the stamp mill. This sand still contained copper that earlier stamping technology had failed to extract. Advances in stamping efficiency and the increased costs of traditional shaft mining made reclaiming and re-stamping these sand tailings economically viable.

Lake Linden Reclamation Plant

The dredge was utilized at the Lake Linden Reclamation Plant by Calumet and Hecla until 1951, when it was acquired by the Quincy Mine. Quincy redesignated the dredge as Quincy Dredge Number Two. They used it at their reclamation facility, which had been operational since 1943. The original Quincy Dredge Number One sank in 1956, and Dredge Number Two continued to operate until 1967. It eventually sank during a winter lay-up. By this time copper prices had dropped so low that the reclamation process was no longer profitable. Consequently, the Quincy Mine abandoned both the dredge and its reclamation facility.

Quincy Dredge Number 2Nearby, across the road from the dredge, are the Quincy Mills. Construction on this site began in 1888 to replace the original Quincy Stamp Mill on Portage Lake. Initially, the mill started with three stamps, hammer-like devices used to crush rock. Two more were added in 1892. The mill closest to the dredge site contained the 1890 mill. The original mill underwent several modifications and expansions over time. The adjacent square building served as a turbine building. As production demands increased, Stamp Mill Number Two, equipped with three stamps, was constructed to the north of the original mill in 1900.

The Dredge

The dredge itself is a substantial, box-like vessel designed to remove sand from the lake bed. It features a steel hull that measures 110 feet in length, 56 feet in width, and 9 feet in depth. The decking extends beyond the hull by 8 feet on each side, resulting in an overall width of 72 feet. This dredge was capable of processing over 10,000 short tons of sand per day. It was equipped with a 141-foot suction pipe capable of operating in water up to 115 feet deep.

Currently, the dredge remains submerged in shallow water, tilted to one side. Despite its sunken state, much of the superstructure and the large boom remain visible above the waterline. The dredge serves as a tangible reminder of the region’s rich mining history and the innovative efforts to reclaim valuable resources from industrial byproducts.