Editor’s Note: James Pointer is an Interpretive Supervisor at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park.
The “Iron Range” of Minnesota offers visitors world-class art venues, a multitude of recreational adventures, fantastic wildlife viewing, and a wide variety of historical attractions. The one attraction; however, that everyone needs to put on their travel plans when they visit the area is the Soudan Mine.
The former iron ore mine was a vital link to the development of the state and the country, which is evident by the National Historic Landmark status that it received shortly after opening for public tours in 1965.
On the surface, one might think that only history buffs would like the mine tour, but that is far from accurate. Whether you like history, geology, engineering, the arts, wildlife or you are looking for some adventure, the mine has it all.
While on the tour, you will travel ½-mile underground in a “man cage”, similar to what the miners used. Once underground, you load up on a train and travel ¾-mile to the former working area. Upon arriving at the working area, you will learn how the miners removed all the iron ore, what life was like as a miner and if you are lucky, you might even be treated to some singing. Visitors will also learn about the variety of rocks that make up the mine, including hematite, quartz, greenstone, and the beautiful banded jasper.
The Soudan Mine is part of Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park. They offer public tours of the mine daily from Memorial Day weekend until September 30th and weekends into October through the teacher convention weekend (usually around Oct 21st). Tours run from 10 am – 4 pm and reservations can be made on-line at www.stayatmnparks.com or by calling 1-866-857-2757. Visitors can reach the park office at 218-300-7000.
Make sure you visit the Soudan Mine, as your underground adventure awaits.