Soudan Underground Mine Tour

Soudan Mine state park Minnesota

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.

Soudan Underground Mine tour

Soudan Underground Mine tourThe 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.

Not quite pitch black at Soudan Underground Mine

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.

Engine House

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.

1/2 mile underground at Soudan Underground Mine


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.

family on tour

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.

Travel to Ely & northern Minnesota- Soudan Underground Mine tour shows you how a miner would have experienced the Minnesotan iron range - all a half mile into the earth

Learn more about my goal to visit all of Minnesota’s State Parks this year.

Follow me on Instagram @Gretcholi or check out the hashtag: #PicklesTravelMNStateParks

2 Thoughts on “Soudan Underground Mine Tour

  1. Jennifer SingerNo Gravatar on November 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm said:

    I’m glad that your son liked it! This looks like a good summer trip when it’s 90 degrees out!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on November 3, 2016 at 10:23 am said:

      Great point Jenn! It’s an incredible summer adventure when it’s that hot out!! As to my son liking it, I’m not sure if that’s the right description- but I was glad he didn’t cry during all of it! I’ll take a sleeping baby any day :-)

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