Marquette County Iron Mines - Ishpeming west

Mine: Cliffs Shaft Mine, Ishpeming, MI

Began → Cliffs Shaft Mine → Became a museum

Operated for 88 years.

From: 1879

Owned by: Iron Cliffs Company → Became Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company (1891)

Produced: Hard specular hematite iron ore

Method: Shaft

Railroad connection: LS&I, DSS&A, C&NW

Stamp Mill/Pellet Plant:

Until: 1967.

Lifetime Production: 28.9 million tons of high grade hard ore.

Cliffs Shaft Mine Cliffs Shaft Mine

Photo info: Two photos of the Cliffs Shaft mine in Ishpeming.


The Cliff Shaft Mine was opened in 1879. Hard specular hematite ore was first taken from the mine in such quantity, that it became the nation's largest producer of that type of iron ore. This mine was closed only once (1893-1897) due to lack of demand. The mine contained two headframes, a boiler house (120x40'), an irregular "T" shaped building that housed both the engine house and the compression house, each section approximately 40x10', and a machine shop (about 110x30').

This mine is still prominently visible in Ishpeming and part of it is used as a museum.

Time Line

1910. Headframes. Two reinforced concrete headframes (shaft houses) were constructed in 1910 to replace two deteriorating wooden structures located 280' apart. They are built of concrete fireproof construction which at the time was less expensive than steel and more readily available. CCI President W. G. Mather argues that the design should be attractive as well as practical.

The new concrete headframes were built around the old wooden headframes, which were later torn down with no interruption in the use of either shaft during the construction period. [UPM]

1957. A new Koepe type friction hoisting plant is placed in service at the Cliffs Shaft underground mine. This was the first installation of this type of hoisting unit in the Lake Superior region, but a number of other such hoists are planned for mines on other ranges of the region. [EDP-1957-0114]

1965. Active mine, owned by Cleveland-Cliffs Mining Company. [DMP]

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