Iron Mining in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Iron Mining in Wisconsin

Iron Mining in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Wayside, Tourist Info Center, Hwy. 51, 1 mi. N of Hurley, Iron County

Although iron mining in Wisconsin had its beginnings in Sauk, Dodge and Jackson counties in the southern part of the state in the 1850s, discoveries of vast new deposits shifted the focus to northern Wisconsin in 1880. The major iron mining area from the mid-1880s to the mid-1960s was the Gogebic Iron Range, which extends for 80 miles from Lake Gogebic in Michigan to Lake Namekagon in Wisconsin. Forty-five of the 70.7 million tons of ore produced from the Gogebic Iron Range in Wisconsin came from the Cary Mine near Hurley and the Montreal Mine at Montreal. The remaining ore came from smaller mines such as the Ottawa, Atlantic, Iron Belt, Germania and Plummer mines, most of which ceased operation before World War I. The Montreal and Cary mines closed in the 1960s when the steel industry changed from using high-grade iron ore from deep shaft mines to using abundant taconite ore that could be economically mined by the open-pit method. At the time of closing, the Montreal and Cary mines were producing ore from workings nearly one mile deep. The last iron ore from the Gogebic Iron Range in Wisconsin was shipped from the Cary Mine in 1965.

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[Source: McBride, Sarah Davis. History Just Ahead (Madison:WHS, 1999).]