The mine hoist is the largest mine hoist in the world.
Built for the Quincy Mine by Nordberg in Milwaukee, it features four pistons (two high pressure, two low pressure) and a cylindro-conical drum, 30 feet in diameter and thirty feet long. The center section is a 10' wide cylinder, the conical ends are 10 feet long, that taper to a diameter of 16 feet. The drum is comprised of 48 sections, essentially hollow but well braced to prevent deflection. The tapered ends simultaneously raised and lowered skips into and out of the mine, increasing efficiency and providing a counter balance. The steam engine developed 2,500 horsepower at 34 revolutions per minute.
The wire hoisting rope weighed 27 tons and could easily reach the bottom of the shaft, using 9,700 feet of rope. (The mine reached an actual depth of 9,260 feet on a 55º angle.) Several types of skips were used, to carry men in and out of the mine, to carry water out, to carry explosives and other supplies in, and to carry ore out.
The hoist could raise a skip, loaded with 10 tons of ore, up to 36 MPH. The hoist, by increasing speed and capacity over the hoist it replaced, saved the mining operation $16,080 in fuel alone during its first year of operation.
The hoist sits on the largest block of reinforced concrete ever poured. It is s 54 feet wide, 84 feet long and has 3200 cubic yards of cement. There is over 8 tons steel rail and 8,000 feet of discarded 1½" diameter hoisting rope for reinforcement material.
Large windows, glazed with beaded glass, fill the building with soft light. The building, built with an ornate Georgian Brick exterior and Italian tile inside, cost $370,000 to build in 1918, a princely sum and an impressive sight. The building, and hoist, were used as a showpiece for investors.
This engineering marvel, weighing more than 880 tons, was used only for eleven years, from 1918 to 1929.
After the mine closed in 1945, water filled all the lower levels. Today, water is pumped out from the 7th level, where tours enter from the side of the mountain and ride straight into a typical stope, the lower levels are flooded. The tour travels through an air shaft that was expanded specifically for tours. A cog railway was installed to take tourists to and from the mine entrance.
A smaller building, that housed the previous mine hoist, remains on the site and is part of the historic district. The remains of the boiler house stand next to the building, the roof has collapsed and the smoke stack fell over some years ago.
Nordberg, builders of the hoist, was founded in 1889 by Bruno V. Nordberg. He had been working for E. P. Allis & Co when he left to start Nordberg. One hundred years later, in 1989, the company was sold to Finish conglomerate Metso. Metso announced in 2003 that it would close the Milwaukee operations, after it had closed Nordberg operations in Clintonville and Appleton. After 114 years of building some of the finest mining machines in the world in Milwaukee, it all came to an end.
Sadly, Nordberg has been reduced to the answer to a trivia question regarding The Naked Gun series of movies, but the glory days of Nordberg are on display here, in Hancock, Michigan.