Name: Soudan Mine Underground Tours

Address: P.O. Box 335, 1379 Stuntz Bay Road, Soudan, MN 55782

Phone: 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367)

Website: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00285#homepage

Email: info.dnr@state.mn.us

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Virtual Tour link: files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/state_parks/virtual_tours/lake_vermilion/vt_vermilion.html

As Minnesota’s first iron ore mine, the Soudan Mine opened in 1884 and produced high grade, extremely hard ore until it closed in 1962. The next year, the United States Steel Corporation donated 1,200 acres including the mine to Minnesota for a state park, and in 2010, the state bought 2,848 more acres from U.S. Steel to protect the Vermillion Lake shoreline. In 2014, the Lake Vermillion State Park and Soudan Mine State Park were merged into the Lake Vermillion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

Today visitors can visit the underground mine by riding in a cage suspended on a cable down to the lowest level where miners worked. It takes three minutes to descend to Level 27, some 2,341 feet, half a mile, below the surface. There, guides take visitors to see the rooms carved out of stone by the miners as they worked to remove the iron ore.

When visitors step out of the cable car at Level 27, they are greeted with this sign.  Steve Gardiner / Rivertown Multimedia
When visitors step out of the cable car at Level 27, they are greeted with this sign. Steve Gardiner / Rivertown Multimedia

The virtual tour lets viewers see 360-degree panoramas of the above-ground towers, buildings, and mining equipment. Other sections of the virtual tour let viewers see the underground rooms and tunnels without a confined cable car ride. Beautiful views of Lake Vermillion are also included in the park’s virtual tour.