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We pass by the Iron Mountain Mine every time we go up north to visit Luke’s mother. I’d always wanted to stop, just to see what it was all about. I wasn’t really expecting too much, but I was surprised. The Mine Tour is very interesting and a lot of fun. It was a neat way to spend an hour.
The Mine is located right on US-2 in the small town of Vulcan. It is impossible to miss. From either direction there are large signs on the highway proclaiming “Mine Entrance Ahead”. Once you reach the mine entrance, “Big John” will be towering over the highway to let you know you’ve arrived. The Iron Mountain Mine also features a large rock and gem shop where you can browse until it is time for your tour.
Tours are offered at 10 minutes past the hour, every hour, from 9:10 AM until 4:10 PM. The Mine provides hard hats and rain coats to wear inside the mine, but you will want to dress in warm layers. It is 42°F inside the mine and the temperature drops immediately once you enter. It is also recommended that you wear practical shoes - there are a lot of damp spots inside, and while there are mats on the floor, the ground could be slick in places.
After donning your hard hat and rain slicker, you’ll be led outdoors. The guide will lead you past some mining equipment and explain how it was used in the mine. Some of it still functions and demonstrations will be given. After this you’ll board the mine train - an open-car train that will take you into the mine and up to the Footwall. After you reach the Footwall, the rest of the tour will be conducted on foot. The guide will lead you through corridors to several points of interest in the mine. You’ll learn quite a bit about how the mining was done and the type of people who worked in the mine.
The highlight of the tour comes at the end when you reach the Large Stoat - the large cavern where the main lode of iron ore was found, and the largest excavation site in the mine. Since work has finished, the ceiling has collapsed, making the Stoat even more impressive with a large domed ceiling.
The tour lasts approximately an hour, depending on the speed at which your group moves. We had a very small group with only two small children, so we moved pretty quickly. You will travel about 2600 feet through the tunnels and wind up 400 feet underground. If you’ve never been inside a mine or cave before, it is an interesting feeling, especially during the one point where the guide turns out the lights so you can experience the total blackness of the mine.
Large groups and bus tours are welcome at the mine, but it is recommended that you call in advance and let them know the day and time of your arrival so that they can plan accordingly.
Iron Mountain Mine
Vulcan, MI 49892
Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM (these are the hours for the rock and gem shop; the last tour of the mine is at 4:10 PM)
Seasonal: Yes - open Memorial Day to October 15
Kid Friendly: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Possibly - call to confirm. The tunnels are wide enough to accommodate most wheelchairs, but there may be issues with the train.