Little American Mine

Useful Information

Location: Little American Island. From International Falls follow Highway 11 east for 18 km to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.
Open: Gold Mine Tour: Summer Mon, Thu 11, 12:30.
Grand Tour: 25-MAY to 28-JUN Sun 14, 17:30.
29-JUN to 16-AUG Wed, Sun 14, 17:30.
17-AUG to 05-OCT Sun 14, 17:30.
Fee: Gold Mine Tour: Adults USD 10.75, Children USD 6.25.
Grand Tour: Adults USD 22.50, Children USD 12.25.
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: none.
Guided tours:
Address: Voyageurs National Park, 3131 Highway 53, International Falls, MN 56649.
Park Headquarters, Tel: +1-218-283-6600.
Rainy Lake Visitor Center, Tel: +1-218-286-5258, Fax: +1-218-285-7407.
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.


JUL-1893 gold discovered on Little American Island.
1894 Little American Mine opened, other mines opened, Rainy Lake City founded.
1898 collapse of mining, mines closed, village abandoned.



Little American Island is a small island in the Rainy Lake, at the northern border of Minnesota towards Canada. After gold was discovered on the island in summer 1893 the so called Rainy Lake Gold Rush started. But this was not a big gold rush, comparable to the California or Alaska gold rushes. Only $5,000 worth of gold was produced in the first year.

The remains of the mining, a ghost town with an 70 m long shaft and several adits can today be visited on guided tours. The place is now part of the Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota's only national park.

The gold was discovered by George Davis, a local prospector and timber cruiser. He was funded by Charles Moore, a businessman with prior mining involvement in Ontario. Davis discovered a gold-bearing quartz vein, and reported it together with some gold-bearing specimens to Charles Moore. Moore immediately hired a former Black Hills miner named Jeff Hildreth to secure title to the island and arrange financing. And in the spring of the following year Development of the Little American Mine and nearby settlement of Rainy Lake City started. Several other mines were opened the same summer, including the Lyle Mine north of Dryweed Island, the Big American Mine on Big American Island, the Bushyhead Mine on Bushyhead Island, the Soldier Mine on Dryweed Island. But the low production of the mines resulted in a gold-bust by 1898. A few inhabitants stayed some more years, but in 1906 the last one left the place and Rainy Lake City had become a ghost town.

The tours to the gold mine start at Rainy Lake Visitor Center, which is located south of the small island. From here the island is reach by boat. On the island is a short round trip interpretive trail leading to all the mining remains, including adits, shafts and machinery. The 400 m long trail is wheelchair accessible. It may be visited with ranger guided tours and self-guided with a brochure which is available from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.