Mining museum in Ishpeming offers tours, blacksmith wares
ISHPEMING — The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum is open for the season.
The former iron mine, now a heritage museum, offers patrons a chance to see local historical artifacts from the area’s glory days of the mining era and a chance to tour the Cliffs Shaft, according to the museum’s website.
“There’s not a whole lot of new things this year. We try to make the experience a little bit different every year, we move a few things around,” volunteer Craig Ilmonen said. “We have such a vast collection of archives and artifacts that we are able to put in some way and set up some different artifacts, but it all correlates with mining.”
Ilmonen said all the artifacts in the museum relate to underground and open pit iron mining.
“If it weren’t for iron mining, we would really have no reason to be here right now,” Ilmonen said. “(Back then) they wouldn’t have built the communities around here as much, because there really wouldn’t be a whole lot of reason to be up here other than copper and in the Copper Country.”
He said one of the reasons the museum exists is to share the history of why Marquette County developed the way that it did because of iron ore.
Ilmonen said he and others at the museum are looking forward to sharing the history that they know and are passionate about.
“For me personally, it’s just being able to meet new people, talk to new people, share our history and a lot of times, we are learning just as much from somebody else as they are from us,” Ilmonen said.
According to a press release from the museum, the working forge will also be operated by resident blacksmith David Arbelius as he will work at the anvil with his handmade wares for sale.
As a nonprofit organization, the museum operates mostly on donations. Ilmonen said if patrons are looking to donate to the museum, consider taking a guided tour or visiting the gift shop.
A variety of products, including local food items, will be available in the gift shop along with popular books, rocks, apparel, toys and souvenirs.
The museum is at 501 W. Euclid St., Ishpeming and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with guided tours scheduled daily at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Adult admission is $7, or $15 to have a guided tour, and children’s admission is $5.
For more information about the museum, visit its website at cliffsshaftminemuseum.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/cliffsshaft.