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Boreal Community Media

New tour at Sudan Underground Mine reveals geological wonders

Sep 11, 2018 03:16PM ● By Editor

Media release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - September 10, 2018

See a mine the way the miners of yesteryear saw them. With help from a headlamp, hard hat, and tour guide, visitors too can walk the rails inside the mine at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park in northeastern Minnesota.  

“Our new tours provide an opportunity to walk the drift and to see how the rock formations and exploratory work done by miners, using specific tools, allowed them to determine the location of the iron ore deposit,” explained Park Manager Jim Essig.

Those who take the tour will also get to see a Minnesota fault line. Yes, Minnesota has them and yes, they are now viewable during the new weekday-only tour at the Soudan Underground Mine.

The new “walking drift tour” will occur at 2 p.m. weekdays in September at the mine. Visitors will descend a half mile into the mine via a “cage” elevator, followed by a three-quarter mile walk in search of geologic clues that show the way to iron ore. Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and a sweater.  Once visitors are under ground, the hunt commences for geologic clues on the three-quarter mile walk formerly taken by miners. It takes about two hours and costs $20.

Visitors will learn about the tools used in the exploration of iron ore and will see a three-dimensional fault line. At the tour’s end, a train will transport visitors to the beginning of their journey. Until now, only geologists and students of geology studied the underground rock formations at the Soudan Underground Mine.

The tour includes a few uneven surfaces throughout the mine. Visitors will resurface with a new understanding of and appreciation for the men who mined the ore, and how they did it. Reservations are not required, and individuals must be 10 years of age and older.

The walking tours end for the season on Sept. 28. The other tours, which take visitors through the mine in rail cars are offered daily Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, and weekends in October through the annual Education Minnesota conference (with group tours available year-round by arrangement).

In addition to the mine tours, the park has a new campground, which celebrated its grand opening this past spring. The new campground features three group camps and 33 drive-in campsites, all with electricity and Wi-Fi. Other recently completed amenities at the park include hiking trails, a public water access in Cable Bay, and a new segment of the paved Mesabi Trail that connects the park to the nearby town of Tower. Another highlight of the park is the Armstrong Bay Day-Use Area, completed in 2013, which includes boat dockage, a fishing pier and a picnic area.

Other projects currently underway or coming soon include:

  • Accessibility updates to a boat-in cabin on Blue Heron Island in Mattson Bay (final painting/decking is underway and will be completed this fall).
  • A picnic shelter designed for large groups near the historic mine (completion expected October).
  • A hiking trail from the campground to Onumuni Overlook on Cable Bay (trail is near completion with boardwalk to be added in spring of 2019).
  • Eight camper cabins that will each sleep up to six people (construction is planned to begin in spring of 2019).

For more information, call the park at 218-300-7000, go to

or contact the DNR Information Center at [email protected] or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

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