Quincy Hoist model railroad brought up to speed
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — Twenty years after the completion of the Quincy Hoist Association’s G-Scale working model of the Quincy Mining Company’s Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad, co-creators, Chuck Pomazal, and his wife, Jane, of Dixon, Illinois, were back at the Quincy Mine site to conduct some needed repairs to the railroad. They spent most of the first week of May working on the layout.
“Some track needed to be replaced,” Pomazal said, “some of the cars need to be lubricated, and just general maintenance on the whole layout.”
The creation of the railroad model began in 1996 with a thought, said Pomazal, and took just under six years to complete.
In 1996, when the Quincy Hoist Association’s underground tours of the Quincy Mine began, and a cograil tram brought visitors from the No. 2 Shaft complex down the hill to the mine’s adit, it quickly became a popular tourist destination, Pomazal explained.
At the time, the Michigan Technological University’s A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum had mineral specimens on display on a large, 12-foot by 30-foot platform in the main area of the mine’s 1895 hoist building.
“The manager at the time, Jim Vivian, was wondering what could we possibly do with this display space, and the idea of a model railroad layout came up,” Pomazal said.
The idea began in the summer of 1997, when Vivian and Dick Taylor, of Raildreams, Inc. of Lake Linden discussed the feasiblity of a model railroad layout that would provide a general visual concept of the former mining company’s operations atop Quincy Hill, the company’s stamp mill, on Torch Lake, and the company-owned three-foot, narrow-gauge, shortline railroad that connected the two locations. The Q&TLRR’s mainline was just six and a half miles long.
Taylor and Pomazal got the go-ahead on the project and began developing it immediately. Taylor and his team from Raildreams did the benchwork and laid the track, while Pomazal constructed the buildings and scenery.
Pomazal worked on the layout for five and a half years. At his home in Dixon, he constructed the buildings in his basement workshop, then he and his wife came to the hoist building for a week at a time when they could and put the buildings in place.
The five and a half year project was completed in 2003, the year Pomazal and his wife received the Burt Boyum Award for Historical Preservation, because of the building of the model.
During the first week of May, Chuck and Jane spent a number of days working on the layout, at the request of QMHA Manager, Tom Wright.
Wright said that it has been disappointing for the visitors who walk through the door and see the huge layout.
“The first question has been, ‘Does it work?’, and sadly, he would have to say no,” Pomazal said.
It does now.
In conducting the historical research necessary to accurately reconstruct the layout, Pomazal amassed enough documentation to author a book on the history of the Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad, titled “Rock Down, Coal Up.” All proceeds from the book are donated to the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.