Iron Ore Heritage Trail bike tours planned

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail, a multi-use and year-round trail network that connects communities and people to the region’s historic sites and human stories across the Marquette Iron Range, will start offering bike tours in July. The most recent segment of the trail will link Marquette to Negaunee’s historic Jackson Mine. That segment is slated for completion July 1, and it will also link to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

In July, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum will host several Iron Ore Heritage Trail bike tours along the new route. Each tour will start at the museum with an orientation of the Carp River forge site, where the first ore was smelted on the Marquette Range in the 1840s. From the museum, bikers will travel westward toward the Jackson Mine in Negaunee, where miners broke up and transported the ore that was smelted at the Carp River forge. The tour will continue to Ishpeming and return to the museum, with several stops along the way.

“Iron mining on the Marquette Range is a big story to tell,” said DNR historian Troy Henderson. “There are museums such as the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, which exhibit the iron industry in Michigan from its inception. There are also many physical sites that you can actually stand in front of and see. We are offering bike tours that give visitors the best of both worlds.”

The Marquette Iron Range is the oldest and most productive of Michigan’s three iron ranges. From Marquette’s harbor, once dubbed “Iron Bay,” to the mining towns west of the port city, the iron industry has been woven into the social and economic fabric of the communities on the iron range. Iron mining continues on the Marquette range to this day, linking the current open-pit taconite production methods to the earlier and more dangerous underground mining techniques.

“There is a lot of rich history along this route, both in terms of mines and related structures and the impact of iron mining on communities,” said Henderson. “At the Jackson Mine participants will see the mine and even the drill markings on the walls of ore that were made over a century ago. Also, bikers will ride through ‘Old Towne Negaunee,’ a section of town that was abandoned and fenced off due to the caving potential of the underground mine shafts. Several years ago most of the area was opened up again to the public, and there are still many people with memories of growing up on that land.”

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail bike tours will take place July 11, 18 and 25. Each tour will start at 10 a.m., and the total route is approximately 15 miles. Lunch will be provided by Midtown Bakery and Café on the return trip. The fee is $20 per participant, which includes lunch and a Michigan Iron Industry Museum souvenir. Pre-registration is required, and space is limited per tour. Find the registration form by visiting [ ] and viewing the online calendar for July.

For more information about the tours or the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, contact the museum office at 906-475-7857 or e-mail Troy Henderson at

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources. It is located at 73 Forge Road in Negaunee. For more information, call 906-475-7857 or visit [ ]. To learn more about the rest of the state’s historical museum sites, go to [ ].