Museum preserves mining era of 1800s

Museum preserves mining era of 1800s

ISHPEMING — Mining is an important part of the Upper Peninsula’s history. ABC 10 and the CW-5 went to Cliff Shaft Mine Museum to find out more about how they preserve the great mining era dating back to the 1800s.

This museum is the home of the longest running, highest producing underground iron ore mine on the Marquette Range. From the way they communicated to the long and dangerous hours, mining life can be relived in Ishpeming.

“We are lucky enough that it is still in tact, 90% of the buildings are still here, some of the underground tunnels are still in place and that gives us an opportunity to share that with the public and preserve our history,” said Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum Board Director, Mark Dryer.

The museum has countless interesting artifacts on the many different aspects of mining. Complete with head frames that tower up to 174 feet down to the bowels of the earth. Mining tunnels that you can actually walk through to really get a feel of the underground world they worked in. Miners would often go a whole week with never seeing any sunlight.

“You have to remember that when they came from working they were wet and dirty and at 10 below zero that was very uncomfortable and these are tunnels that could provide them access to the dry building where they kept their clothes and took showers, added Dryer.

The tour includes a look at their brass check system. And while mining was big figuratively, the equipment they handled was no small feat either. This 170 ton truck has tires that are 12 feet high. And if you are a rock enthusiast, the Ishpeming Rock & Mineral Club has on display more than 800 rocks and minerals.

Volunteer guide Allen Smith says, “We have samples going 2.2 billion years and some older than that. We have specimens of the geology of the mine, those are quite interesting. We also have the impactite.”

The indoor outdoor museum is only open during the warm season and if you really want some mining history, pull up a chair as these nicely preserved volunteers have plenty a tale to tell.