Museum Mine Shaft Saved from Elements

11 months ago, we at UGN News asked whether you might like to go to a museum that features huge pieces of sheetmetal falling more than 100 feet to the ground.

But that won’t be a problem anymore.

A piece of the central U.P.’s economic history has just been preserved.

It’s at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum in Ishpeming.

When we last went there, the tin siding on the old ‘C’ shaft was becoming dangerously loose.

There would have been dire consequences if museum staff hadn’t raised about $4,500 to bolt the tin back into place.

Museum president Leo LaFond says they would have lost the entire building.

Gil Dawe says although most people know that there used to be a lot of iron ore mining here, most don’t know how important to the country’s industrial production the mines were.

And he would know.

He’s a retired former general manager of all the mines that Cliffs Natural Resources used to have on the Marquette Iron Range.

He says he was even around working at Cliffs Shaft when it was shut down.

That was in 1967, after the mine had been open for 99 years.

Dawe says Cliffs Shaft is the only underground mine site left on the Marquette Range that has its above-ground headframes still standing.

But since the headframes are so tall, any deterioration poses a safety hazard for visitors.

The tin sheets became noticeably loose in early 2007, and by the end of the year, some of them had started falling from the sides of the shaft.

The future county-wide Iron Ore Heritage Trail also helped make the tin repair a high priority.

The trail is due to pass just south of the museum, which should help attract more visitors.

Next up for the museum — raising money to preserve other buildings on site that are more than a century old.