If you’ve ever wanted to plummet a 1/2 mile into the earth in three minutes than than Soudan Underground Mine state park mine tour is for you! Fascinating and a bit frightening it’s an hour tour that you’ll remember forever.
The Soudan Underground Mine is the oldest and deepest mine in the state of Minnesota. Over the life of the mine they removed over 15.5 million tons of ore out of Soudan Underground Mine and the tour is full of fun facts and fascinating pieces of northern MN history.
Larissa (aka Larry- “because everyone in the mine gets a nickname”) and Karel took us down a half mile into the earth at the Soudan Underground Mine state park to experience first hand the life of a miner in the early and mid 1900s. The elevator system that they use is the original loud, banging elevator that the miners would have taken to work every morning, and while the train that we took is not original, you’re still traveling in the mine shafts.
About half way through the tour Larry and Karel gathered us all around in a semi circle and turned off all the lights. And I mean ALL of them. Plunged into the darkest dark you have ever experienced is one thing, but then standing in that dark and hearing about how the miners would travel the entire length of the shaft we just traveled via train and up the rickety stairs in that same pitch blackness was really eye opening (in as much as you can open your eyes in the dark…). In order to save money it was only once the miners reached their spot of work in the mine that they would light a candle (and later in the century, a head lantern) to see their tiny workspace with a faint glow of light. Both of these examples of light were displayed to us as we stood in complete darkness. Unnerving to say the least, but it brought their reality home to those of us in the tour how the life of the 1800 miners that worked in the mine at its peak was.
Fun Fact about the Soudan Mine is that it was named after the Sudan because the mine’s manager wanted something humorous and picked somewhere that was a sharp contrast to the “bitter winters” by choosing Sudan, Africa.
I was initially very excited about going on a mine tour- having zero concept of what that meant… Then we watched an informational video about the mine and I realized that we were not only going to plummet 1/2 a mile into the earth, but we were also going to go about it the same way the miners did for the last half century! Cool, interesting, and completely scary.
Tours run daily from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, and on weekends in October through MEA weekend.
Cost is $12 for adults; $7 for children
Wear warm clothes- the mine is 52 degrees all year long and feels even cooler as you travel through the shaft on the train.
As a side note: we brought along our 2-month old son and it was perfect for him. The loud elevator put him to sleep and the cooler temps made him happy to sleep through the entire thing.