In 1956 three Iron Mountain businessmen, Eugene Carollo, Albert Carollo, and James Goulette had an idea for an attraction that would give people a view of iron mining as it once existed. On the site of the East Vulcan mine Eugene Carollo re-discovered an exploratory tunnel, which had not been used since the late 1800's.
Following a great deal of research and planning, the mine workings were renovated and old mining machinery was installed in several locations to show the early methods used in mining. The entire interior was brightly lighted to give a good view of interesting rock and ore formations judged to be millions of years old.
Two buildings were constructed; one an admissions' building and gift shop; the other, a museum featuring miner's equipment and mining tools and machinery. Visitors were greeted in the parking lot by BIG JOHN; a giant replica of a underground miner that stands 40 feet high, 12 feet wide and weighing 2000 pounds. On dark and gloomy days, the beam from Big John's mine latern will catch your eye. The attraction was called the "Iron Mountain Iron Mine". Walking tours began in 1958. The train that you ride on today was added in 1965.
The guided tours take the visitor 2600 feet into the Iron Mountain Iron Mine's drifts and stopes. The only portion open to the public is the exploratory tunnel. A major attraction of the tour is the "big stope" --a man-made underground cavity that was created by years of mining. Much of the 22 million tons of ore taken from the mine came from this area, that measures 600 feet long, 300 feet wide and a distance of 180 feet from stope floor to ceiling.
The first substantial prospecting in the area was done by the Milwaukee Iron Company in 1872 under the direction of Dr. Nelson P. Hulst. He discovered the East Vulcan Mine (Iron Mountain Iron Mine) that started producing in 1877. During the prospecting era, ore was hauled to Menominee by wagon--then shipped by vessel. After 1877 ore was shipped to Escanaba on the "new" Chicago and NorthWestern Railway.
Dr. Hulst, General Manager of the Menominee Range Mining Co., established his headquarters in Vulcan near Hanbury Lake. In the few years that followed he operated six of the principal mines on the Menominee Range; Vulcan, Cyclops, Norway, Quinnesec, Chapin and Florence. By the time he left Vulcan in 1881, Dr. Hulst had discovered and opened eleven mines on the Menominee Range.
The East Vulcan Mine (at one time called Breitung) was one of first two mines on the Menominee Range. Its history dates back to 1877 when it was owned and operated by the Menominee Mining Co. In 1885 it was purchased by Penn Mining Co., which operated the mine until the lease ran out in 1945. The East Vulcan Mine produced and shipped ore every year between 1877 and 1945 except 1921 and 1932.
During the span of 68 years the mine produced 21,625,000 tone of ore. The original mine of East Vulcan consisted of shafts 1, 2 ,3 ,4 and later the East Central Shaft. At the peak of production, the mine employed 1500 men.
Now in its 61st year, the Iron Montain Iron Mine located at W4852 US-2 in Vulcan, Michigan, is a popular Upper Peninsula tourist attraction that is now known World Wide. Visitors come from all over the world to visit this attraction. Underground train tours are conducted daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Memorial Weekend to October 15th. Our guides are very experienced since some have been working for the Iron Mountain Iron Mine for 10+ years. The management and employees are ready to share mining history with you. Come tour the Iron Mountain Iron Mine. Open daily from Memorial Weekend to Oct 15th from 9:00 - 5:00 CST. Call with any questions 906-563-8077.