Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum

Cliff’s Shaft Mine Museum

Useful Information

Location: Ishpeming, Marquette County, Michigan. Corner of Euclid Street and Lakeshore Drive, 500 m south of US 41.
(46.491183856506275, -87.67656025709383)
Open: JUN to mid-SEP Tue-Sat 10-16.
Fee: Adults USD 7, Children (13-18) USD 3, Children (0-12) free.
Classification: MineIron Mine ExplainKoepe-Winder
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=104 km, VR=413 m.
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: only above ground
Address: Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum, 501 W. Euclid Street, P.O. Box 555, Ishpeming, MI 49849, Tel: +1-906-485-1882. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1844 discovery of iron ore at the Jackson Mine in Negaunee.
1867 Iron Cliffs Mining Company started the Barnum Mine.
15-MAR-1877 core samples using a diamond drill started at a place overlooking the swamp of Ishpeming.
JUL-1878 iron ore discovered, mining started under the name New Barnum Mine.
1886 New Barnum Mine renamed Cliff Shaft Mine.
MAY-1891 Iron Cliffs Mining Company merged with Cleveland Mining Company forming the Cleveland-Cliffs Mining Company.
1919 wooden headframes replaced with concrete headframes.
1950 mine modernized.
1955 new shaft called C Shaft, old shafts shut down.
22-DEC-1967 mine closed.
1973 designated a state of Michigan historic site.
1992 placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
17-SEP-1998 mine shaft donated to the nonprofit Marquette Range Iron Mining Heritage Theme Park, Inc..
29-JUN-2002 mine museum opened to the public.



Cliffs Shaft Obelisk. Public Domain.

Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum is located in an iron mining area called Marquette Range. It is an ensemble of impressive buildings, three huge headframes which once contained the machinery for the elevators. The mine property and the surface relics of the abandoned iron mining activities was owned by the by the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. They donated it in 1998 to the Marquette Range Iron Mining Heritage Theme Park, Inc. (MRIMHTP), a non-profit group with the goal to preserve and share the heritage of mining on the Marquette Iron Range. There are displays of the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club mineral collection with over 500 local mineral specimens, the Ishpeming Historical Society, and the Marquette County Genealogical Society. An underground tour of the tunnels to the base of the C-Shaft is guided by former miners. The blacksmith shop has been renovated, and the surface is used as an open air exhibition for heavy machinery. There is a 170-ton Iron Ore Truck with tires 3.65 m high.

The characteristic headframes were built in 1919, when the old wooden head frames needed to be replaced. William Gwinn Mather, the President of the Cleveland-Cliffs Mining Company decided the appearances of the shaft houses were important. So they were rebuilt after the design of the famous architect George Washington Maher. He created two concrete obelisks, some 35 m high and built of concrete. As Mather had planned, this Egyptian revival became the icon of mining for the company and a landmark for the area.

While A and B Shaft were created with the mine, C Shaft was added in the 1950s, when the mine was modernized. The headframe was a Swedish construction and contained the three first Koepe hoist systems of the U.S.A. It was a new construction which was much more efficient, because all cages and the cables were balanced with a counter weight. The hoists were now located directly above the shaft.