Our Mission is to preserve and present the Heritage of Mining on the Marquette Iron Range.
The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, supported by admissions, donations, rental fees, and run primarily by volunteers. Please consider donating.
The museum site is a trailhead for the Iron Ore Heritage Trail and on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Iron Cliffs Company started an open pit mine in summer 1867. The Barnum Mine worked the ore deposit successfully for several years. In 1877 the company utilized the process of Diamond Drills in exploration to the north of the pit, on high ground overlooking Ishpeming. The finding was good ore 400 feet under the surface. Two shafts were started on a hill to reach the iron ore below. These two mine shafts became the ‘Cliffs Shaft Mine’. The mine became a critical operation by being the largest producer of hard hematite ore on the iron range.
By 1919 the ageing wooden shaft houses of the “A” and “B” needed to be replaced due to their deterioration. The decision was to use reinforced concrete to create the new shaft buildings. The company president, William G Mather wanted the structures to be as ornate as possible and to have “Architectural Beauty”. The consulting architect for the project was the much renowned George W Maher. The new buildings forms were 97-foot high obelisk shaped by the architecture style of Egyptian Revival.
Decades later a new modern mine shaft was planned for the property. In the fall of 1954, a multi-roped “Koepe Hoist” system was delivered to the site. During 1955 the equipment was installed and the shaft completed, and operations started on December 2nd. The new 174-foot tower dwarfed every other structure in town including the older structures of the “A” and “B” Shafts. This became the “C Shaft”. The Mine worked through the single shaft till it closed on December 22nd 1967. The last shipment from stockpiled ore from the mine was on the 6th of October 1972.
The Total tons of ore shipped from the mine was 26,845,000 long tons. The final depth plunged to 1,358 feet below ground. The Cliffs Shaft Mine was the longest operating Iron Mine on the Range and shipped iron ore almost every year of its long operational history.