Hancock and the Keweenaw Peninsula were at the center of the Copper Boom during the mid-1800s.
Founded by the Quincy Mining Company in 1859, Hancock was named after John Hancock, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and the first Governor of Massachusetts.
Quincy Mine - Keweenaw National Historical Park
The Quincy Mining Company was incorporated in 1848, and between 1863 and 1867, the mine was the leading producer of Copper in the United States. The Quincy Mine earned the nickname "Old Reliable" by returning millions in dividends for investors between 1862 to 1920.
The Quincy No. 2 Shaft for the mine was the world's deepest, featuring 92 levels and stretching 9,260 feet (1.75 miles) underground. To service the mine and return harvested rocks to the surface, the world's largest steam-powered hoist engine, a Nordberg Steam Hoist, was built in the Old No. 2 Hoist House (1918).
The Quincy Mine produced 726 million pounds of copper from 1856 to 1925, and after nearly 100 years, mining operations stopped in 1945.
The National Historic Landmarks Program designated the Quincy Mining Company as an historic district in 1989.
Touring the Mine
The Quincy Mine Hoist Association now owns and operates the former Quincy No. 2 mine shaft. Guided tours are offered during the summer and early fall. The tour is a great way to experience what it's like inside of a copper mine and to see the world's largest steam-powered hoist engine.
The Keweenaw National Historical Park
has an information desk located in the Quincy Mine Ticket and Gift Shop building during the summer. The National Park Service owns parts of the land and some old mining company locations on the west side of US-41, which are not available for viewing at this point.
The Keweenaw National Historical Park's headquarters is in Calumet
, which is 12 miles north of the Quincy Mine. Many
historic locations in Calumet
can be seen on foot. On select days, park rangers provide guided tours of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company complex and the historic business district in Calumet.
Quincy Smelter Location
The Quincy Mining Company's smelter site is located on the northern shore of the Portage Lake Shipping Canal (Portage Canal), near Mont Ripley. Railroad cars would take the copper ore from the mine to the smelter, which would use heat and chemical processes to produce ingots that could be by manufacturers to create copper wire or tubing. The Quincy Smelter is the last remaining copper smelter site in the Lake Superior area. The best place to view the smelter site is from the Houghton side of the Portage Canal.
In downtown Hancock, you'll find a couple of buildings on Quincy Street/US-41 that feature Michigan Historical Markers. The green markers are in locations that are considered significant by the Michigan Historical Commission.
- Hancock Town Hall & Fire Hall - Near the sidewalk, there is a marker that remembers the city's early days and the historic structure. The Quincy Mining Company sold the plot of land to the city in 1898, and Hancock's Town Hall and Fire Hall opened in January 1899. The building was constructed of Jacobsville sandstone at a cost of $15,000. It originally housed the city offices, fire department, marshall's office, and jail. The clock in the tower was once wound by firemen, but it now features an electric clock. In 2008, Hancock City Hall underwent renovations to improve the police station and the clock and bell tower.
- The Old Main building - The historical marker remembers Suomi Academy, which opened in 1896 using rented buildings to hold classes. The academy was started by the Finnish Lutheran Church to meet the spiritual and educational need of local Finnish residents. In 1900, Suomi Old Main was the first permanent building for the academy. The Suomi Old Main building is now part of Finlandia University, a four-year university located in Hancock.
Portage Lake Lift Bridge
A unique bridge for US-41 straddles the the Portage Canal and connects Hancock and Houghton. The double-deck vertical lift bridge was built in 1959 and is the only one of its kind in Michigan. It was designed to accommodate vehicles on the upper deck, railroad traffic on the lower deck, and then lift to allow boats to pass through the shipping canal. The bridge no longer handles railroad traffic, but the lower deck is used by snowmobiles and cross-country skiers during the winter.
Downtown Historic Buildings
Many of the current businesses on Quincy Street/US-41 in downtown Hancock are located in buildings that date back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. The First National Bank building at the corner of Quincy Street and Roosevelt Street was built in 1888 and was enlarged in 1903. Across the street, the Wright Block building dates back to 1900 and was built with smooth-faced Jacobsville sandstone and brick.
A couple other buildings on the north side of Quincy Street date back to the early 1900s.
On the southwest corner of Quincy Street and Tezcuco Street, the State of Michigan Family Independence Agency occupies an art deco-style building that was built in 1939.
The former building for Hancock High School and later Hancock Middle School on Quincy Street/US-41 was built in 1923. The grassy area in front of the building is now used for the farmers market.
Built in 1912, Temple Jacob is the only synagogue on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Quincy Mining Company donated the property, and the building was constructed for $10,000. The building features several beautiful stained glass windows.
is located on Front Street in Hancock, east of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
See the maps page
for maps showing the locations of historical markers, historic sites, walking routes, and much more.
There are also several historic locations in nearby Houghton