Badger Mine and Museum

Useful Information

Location: Shullsburg, in Badger Park.
(42°34'13.08"N, 90°14'12.05"W)
Open: Memorial Day to Labor Day Wed-Sun 11:30-16.
Fee: Adults USD 7, Children (0-4) free.
Lifetime membership USD 50, Family Lifetime membership USD 75.
Classification: MineLead Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=8,000 m.
Guided tours: L=800 m.
Accessibility: no
Address: Badger Mine and Museum, 279 W Estey St, Shullsburg, WI 53586, Tel: +1-608-965-4424-221, Tel: +1-608-965-4860. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1818 Jesse Shull arrived in the area.
28-MAR-1827 prospectors from Galena arrive at the settlement.
1827 mine opened by the Van Matre brothers.
1930s Badger Park constructed.
1963 show mine opened to the public.
1970s mining ended.
2006 show mine and museum renovated.


The galena deposits in the southwestern part of Wisconsin (primarily in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Counties) are part of the Upper Mississippi Valley zinc-lead district. Ordovician carbonates contain gash veins, replacement bodies, flats along bedding planes, and sloping pitches cross-cutting the bedding. The main ore is Galena (PbS), which is formed in a wide range of hydrothermal environments. Mississippi Valley type deposits are low temperature hydrothermal deposits. The deposits are found along gentle but persistent folds and small displacement faults. The main minerals are galena, sphalerite, marcasite, barite, pyrite, calcite, and dolomite.

In the Hazel Green-Shullsburg subdistrict over 125 mines existed.


Badger Mine is the remains of an old lead mine, begun by the Van Matre brothers and originally called Badger Lot Diggings. There is a guided underground tour through Badger Mine. It descends 51 steps below ground to the main drift of the mine, extending beneath the city. There are more than 8 km of mine tunnels running under the city, a local saying goes "visitors may travel in Shullsburg by walking over, flying over or walking under it."

Mining started early, when the first prospectors from Galena arrived at the settlement in 1827, they found a "trader named Shull and four or five cabins occupied by perhaps 40 or 50 miners – mostly Irish." There are no documents when and how mining started exactly, but Jesse Shull arrived in the area in 1818. But in 1927, after the Winnebago Indian Peace Treaty had been signed, the area was flooded by lead miners. It was a sort of "Lead Rush".

According to legend, Jesse Shull once walked from Galena to Wiota. While he stopped for lunch, he observed a badger digging into the southern bank of a brook, near the spring. He discovered small pieces of valuable mineral ore in the badger’s diggings.

More likely is actually, that he was told about the ores by Native Americans. He was in contact with trappers, hunters, and Natives, because he was a fur trader. As a result he settled along the mineral deposit, and the village was soon named New Dublin, because of the Irish miners who dominated mining. Later it was renamed Shullsburg after Jesse Shull. The mine was named Badger Mine because the early miners lived in underground homes they had dug into the mountainside. Because they lived in "badger holes", they were called badgers, and the name stuck.

A mining boom started finally during the 1880s, after the extension of the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. It lasted until the 1970s, and was the financial backbone of the city for a century.

Badger Museum concentrates on local mining history, showing mining exhibits and minerals. But there are also exhibits of early farm tools, medical equipment, a drugstore, a tobacco shop, a turn of-the-century kitchen, a blacksmith shop, and a carpenter shop.

They are both located at Badger Park, a fomer empty field and hillside pockmarked by “sucker” and “badger” holes. In the 1930s it was transformed into a park, funded by the funded by Works Progress Administration (WPA). Dr. H.F. Hoesley, who was mayor at that time, was a great supporter. Generous contributions were made by the City of Shullsburg and several local donors. The plans were made by Lionel Phelps, nationally-renowned landscape architect from Milwaukee, who also supervised the park’s construction.