Winter Wonders: Soudan Underground Mine

Editor’s Note: This series, “Winter Wonders” looks at what some of our Mesabi attractions are doing during the winter. You can read the previous blog about Minnesota Discovery Center here. The Soudan Mine entry is courtesy of guest blogger James Pointer, Interpretive Supervisor, DNR Parks and Trails. 

For some winter is a time to ski, snowmobile, or just have fun making snow angels.  At the mine it is time to prepare for our next big tour season.  Our maintenance staff spend the time painting and repairing the man-cages, deep cleaning and waxing the floors of the visitor center, and adjusting the tour equipment.

Soudan Mine maintenance staff work to reconnect the wheels on the man-cage after it was cleaned and painted. Photo courtesy DNR Staff.

This winter I have been busy developing and adjusting the new tours we plan to offer this summer.  I choose the days of the polar vortex to spend underground, which was a wise plan.  As schools and postal offices closed due to the cold weather, I was able to go underground.  This resulted in a 91 degree Fahrenheit difference in temperatures from the surface (-40 F) to the 27th level (51F).

The mine headframe and grounds in new-fallen snow. Photo courtesy DNR staff.

The trips underground let me determine what needed to be done to prepare our two new tours.  Given the success of our walking drift tour this past fall, we have found a way to offer it every Wednesday morning in the summer and again in the afternoon this fall.  We have also had many requests for tours of the physics lab since its closure two years ago.  We are developing a new science tour that will take visitors into the lab to learn about the former experiments, but it will also include information on the ground breaking research that UMN is conducting on the bacteria found in the mine’s ground water.

Interpreter James Juip shines a light on hematite with quartz during a geology tour of the mine. Photo courtesy of the Timberjay Newspaper.

Enjoy the rest of your winter activities while you begin making plans to visit the mine this summer.  Whether you take the traditional mine tour or one of our new tours, you are sure to have a great adventure.

For information about Mesabi Iron Range area attractions, visit www.ironrange.org. 

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