WISCONSIN MINES
Coker Mine No. 1 Livingston, Wisconsin
Martin Mine Benton, Wisconsin
Martin Mine - Benton, Wisconsin.
Biddick Mine - Livingston, Wisconsin
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin - 1888
Illinois Iron Mine - Larue, Sauk Co., Wisconsin
Germania Mine - Hurley, Gogebic Range, Wisconsin
Cary Mine - Hurley, Wisconsin
Frontier Mine - Benton, WI
Plummer Mine Headframe - Montreal, WI
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Gogebic Range, Wisconsin
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin

Lead ore was the first metal ore mined in Wisconsin, followed by zinc and iron. Although southwestern Wisconsin is best known today for its rich farmlands, place names such as Mineral Point, Hardscrabble, New Diggings, Black Jack and Lead Mine evoke an earlier time when local mines produced much of the nation's lead. In the early nineteenth century, Wisconsin lead mining was more promising and attractive to potential settlers than either the fur trade or farming. Its potentially quick rewards lured a steady stream of settlers up the Mississippi River and into Grant, Crawford, Iowa, and Lafayette counties in the early nineteenth century. By 1829, more than 4,000 miners worked in southwestern Wisconsin, producing 13 million pounds of lead a year.

During the 1820s, lead was discovered around the Fever River (now the Galena River), in northwestern Illinois. By 1828, mining had spread north into southwestern Wisconsin, where more extensive lead deposits were found near Mineral Point and by 1829, more than 4,000 miners worked in southwestern Wisconsin, producing 13 million pounds of lead a year. By the mid-1830s, news of the “lead rush” in the Upper Mississippi Valley had reached all the way to Cornwall and a steady stream of skilled, hard-rock miners began to filter into Mineral Point. The Mineral Point, Wisconsin land office was opened in 1834.

In 1850, about 7,000 of the 27,000 British immigrants in Wisconsin were Cornish. Records show that by 1850, some 6,000 Cornish immigrants were living in the counties of Grant, Iowa and Lafayette in Wisconsin. Lead mining in the area went into decline during the 1850s, and many of the Cornish moved on to the copper mines of Upper Michigan and the gold mines of California. It is recorded that during the period, some 700 people left for California from Mineral Point. On one particular day, 60 wagons left, all headed west.

Using new technology in the 1850s, miners began to extract zinc ore from deposits where it was found with lead. For a short period of time in the 19th century, Mineral Point had the largest zinc smelter in the world.


Coker Mine No. 1 Livingston, Wisconsin
Biddick Mine - Livingston, Wisconsin
Iron Mine - North Freedom, WI
Germania Mine - Hurley, Wisconsin
Commonwealth Mine - Florence, Menominee Iron Range, WI
Cleveland Mine, Hazel Green, WI
Cary Mine - Hurley, Wisconsin
Platteville, WI miners
Engine House - Empire Mine - Platteville, WI
Commonwealth Mine - Florence, Menominee Iron Range, WI
Mineral Point, Wisconsin miners
Martin Mine - Benton, Wisconsin.
C&H Mine - Shullsburg, WI
Germania Mine - Hurley, Gogebic Range, Wisconsin
Montreal Mine Mantrip - Montreal, WI
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin
Klar-Piquett ZincMine - Grant Co., WI
Cady Creek Iron Mine - Spring Valley, WI
Ottawa Mine - Montreal, Iron Co. WI
Empire Mine - Platteville, WI
Northwestern Iron Company mine - Iron Ridge, Dodge Co., WI
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, Windsor, Tyler Forks 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, mostly in Minnesota. At the time of their 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.

The Gogebic Range refers both to the range of mountains that runs along the route and to the surrounding communities that built up during a boom period in the 1880s. The term Gogebic Range is also used to refer to the same area extending across the border into Wisconsin in Iron County, and extending west through a portion of Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The Gogebic Range area experienced an initial speculative boom in the mid-1880s, and saw recurring booms and busts from 1884 to 1967.

For decades in the late 19th century and into the 1920s, the Gogebic Range was one of the nation’s chief sources of iron. Iron from the Gogebic Range helped to fuel the industrial boom in the Upper Midwest during these years. Mining was winding down in 1930s with mines beginning to close, amid a national economy also suffering from the Great Depression. The result was widespread economic devastation in the Gogebic Range.
In 1818, a young man name Jesse Shull began buying furs for John Jacob Aster of the American Fur Co. He was sent to the Fever River in the summer of 1819 and built a trading house where Perry Street in Galena Illinois is now. From this Galena IL trading house, he followed the Indian trails in search of better locations. His first camp, where Shullsburg WI is now located, was made in 1820-21. During this time he was also investigating the mining lands of the area and in the summer of 1826 he was shown by Indians locations of rich ore deposits. A migration of miners followed, the first of which were called Badgers because many lived in holes they dug in the ground.

Galena Illinois, often referred to as “The Old Diggins”, was getting too crowded for new miners. As the migration moved north towards Shullsburg, many small towns sprang up around the newer diggins'. Some towns survived - Scales Mound, Hardscrabble, Cottonwood Hill, Council Hill, Lead Mine, New Dublin, and of course, New Diggings. Some of these survivors changed their names - Hardscrabble became Hazel Green, Cottonwood Hill became Benton, and the Irish Diggins at New Dublin became Shullsburg

From the mid-1820s to the Civil War, lead mining was the reason Shullsburg Wisconsin grew and prospered but hard times fell upon the town during and after the Civil War. But by 1880, the mines were again being worked. The yield was great enough to bring the railroad to town, creating another era of growth and prosperity. Shullsburg WI continued to do well for several decades as many of the mines operated through the 1940's. The last mining operation came to a halt when the Eagle-Picher Mine closed in 1979.

Mineral Point, Wisconsin miners
Illinois Iron Mine - Larue, Sauk Co., Wisconsin
Mullen Mine No.2 - Shullsburg, WI
Lead Mine near Shullsburg, WI
Lead Mine - Cuba City, WI
Underground - Cassville, WI
The first European settlement at Mineral Point began in 1827. During the following year, large quantities of galena, or lead ore, were discovered around the settlement in shallow deposits. Lead had many uses at the time, and settlers began to flock to the region hoping to make a living by extracting the easily accessible mineral. Prospectors, miners and adventurers swarmed through the hills and lived in crude shelters known as "badger holes", from which Wisconsin got its nickname: The Badger State. Lead deposits extended throughout an area that also included Dubuque, Iowa and Galena, Illinois, but Mineral Point became the center of lead mining operations within the bounds of present day Wisconsin (then part of Michigan Territory). By 1829, the region's growing population led to the creation of Iowa County, which included all of the lead mining lands within the borders of Michigan Territory at the time. Mineral Point was established as the county seat later that year.
Zinc mine and processing works - Mineral Point, WI
Zinc processing works - Mineral Point, WI
Mineral Point remained an important lead mining center during the 1840s. Although the most easily accessible lead deposits on the surface were becoming exhausted, new immigrants began to arrive with more refined techniques for extracting ore. The largest group came from Cornwall, which had been a copper, lead and tin mining center for centuries. Experienced Cornish miners were attracted to the lead mines in Mineral Point, and by 1845 roughly half of the town's population had Cornish ancestry.

Lead continued to be produced in abundant quantities by the Cornish miners. In 1847, the Mineral Point Tribune reported that the town's furnaces were producing 43,800 pounds of lead each day. Mining activity in Mineral Point began to decline in the following years. In 1848, the same year that Wisconsin achieved statehood, gold was discovered in California. Many experienced miners left Mineral Point to look for gold, and in all, the town lost 700 people during the California Gold Rush. While the lead industry in Mineral Point continued into the 1860s, the town never recovered its former importance.

As lead mining declined in Mineral Point, zinc mining and smelting became important new industries. Zinc ore was discovered with increasing frequency near the bottoms of old lead mines. The Mineral Point Zinc Company was founded in 1882, and by 1891 it was operating the largest zinc oxide works in the United States at Mineral Point. Zinc mining and processing continued on a large scale until the 1920s.
Platteville was a small farming and fur trading community along the Platte River, from which the town got its name. In the 1820s, lead ore or Galena was discovered in the area, a mining boom followed. The mining district encompassed a significant portion of southwest Wisconsin. More specifically, the counties of Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Jo Davies County (Illinois) played a major role in the mining of lead and zinc ore. The Galena, Illinois mining district, an area south of Platteville, had been known to many for years. Beginning in 1825, lead prices saw a dramatic boost and the Platteville economy flourished. The "grey gold" (a common nickname for lead ore) was brought development of businesses and schools. Platteville's landscape was shaped by the mining that helped build the town, and mineral holes abounded everywhere.

In 1827, Major John H. Rountree and Major John H. Campbell purchased Metcalf’s lode and opened a general store. Two years later, this small 150-person community was named Platteville. The town was planned in a style reminiscent of Yorkshire, England - quaint and practical - with access to the town’s mine entrances.

By the 1849s lead ore production was decreasing. However, the mining of zinc ore quickly filled the void for prospective work. Platteville was now an established town, complete with schools, an academy, newspaper, several churches, and a telegraph service as of November 1849. During this time, a teachers' college and a mining college were founded. The Wisconsin Mining Trade School opened in January 1908.
Blockhouse Mine - Platteville, WI
Raising ore with a hand Windlass - Platteville, WI
Lead miners - Platteville, WI
Lead miners - Platteville, WI
In 1827, Henry Dodge, his family and about 40 miners set up camp in the vicinity of  present East Fountain Street. Tales were told of lead deposits so abundant in this area that ore actually lay on top of the ground! Upon coming to the area and seeing firsthand the rich quantity of lead, a pact was made with the local Winnebago Indian leaders and a crude fort was built near our present-day city hall. From a crude smelter, Dodge processed and shipped tons of lead ore. Within a short time, about 100 miners were working claims on the ridges of Dodgeville.

Due to a fluctuation of lead prices and Indian scares, Dodgeville continued to grow slowly until 1833 at which time it consisted of two settlements. Dodgeville was located in the present-day Fountain and Iowa Street areas, and the Dirty Hollow-Minersville settlement was located in the vicinity of Spring and North Main Streets. The first residents were Americans of English, Irish, Scots and French descent generally hailing from Kentucky, Missouri or adjacent states. Within a few years, Welsh and Cornish miners arrived from the British Isles. Around this same time, in 1836, Henry Dodge became the first Wisconsin Territorial Governor.

After the rise of lead production in the area in 1845, many miners left for the California Gold Rush of 1849. Those who stayed, notably the Cornish, used their mining expertise to extend the life of the mines through hard-rock mining, water diversion and explosive powders. After the Blackhawk Indian War and the Civil War, mining subsided and was replaced by farming and mercantilism

Zinc Mining - Platteville, WI
Lead Mine - Dodgeville, WI
Wisconsin's iron mining began in the southern part of the state in 1849 in Dodge, Sauk and Jackson counties, and in 1900 in the Baraboo Iron Range. Iron mining on a large scale began in the Gogebic Iron Range on the Wisconsin-Michigan border between 1884 and 1886, after its discovery in 1883. The southern Wisconsin iron deposits paled in comparison to the deposits of the Goegebic Range. Wisconsin also included a small segment of the Menominee Iron Range in Florence County.

In the Mayville District of southern Wisconsin we find the Mayville and Iron Ridge Mines. The Mayville Mine opened in 1892, operated until 1928 and reportedly produced 2,144,000 tons of ore from an open pit operation. The Iron Ridge Mine worked a formation that was 15 to 25 feet thick.

In 1845, iron ore was discovered near Mayville by William Foster, Chester May and E.P. May. a three ton sample of the ore was sent to Milwaukee, tested and found to be good qulaity iron ore. Nearby Iron Ridge became the site of the Iron Ridge Mine which operated from 1849 to 1892 and from 1896 to 1914.

The Iron Ridge Mines are located along the Niagara Escarpment within the Iron Ridge/Neda Iron District. The district is located between the towns of Iron Ridge and Mayville, just east along highway 67. During the time the district was active from the 1850's to 1915 four iron mines and one limestone quarry sprung up in the area producing millions of tons of mid to high grade iron ores. The mines that thrived there at the time are listed from south to north. The Iron Ridge Mine aka the Neda Mine or Oliver Mine, the Mayville Open Pit Mine, the Mayville Shaft Mine and the Unnamed Mine.

Iron Ridge Mine - Mayville, Dodge Co., WI
Mayville Open Pit Mine - Mayville, Dodge Co., WI
The Baraboo Range is located in the Baraboo Hills of Sauk County. Mines began operation here in 1904. The Illinois Mine operated from 1904 to 1916 and produced 315,000 tons of ore. The Cahoon Mine opened in 1919 and produced 238,000 tons of ore before closing in 1925. Ores on this range were usually found at depths of less than 500 feet.
Cahoon Mine - Baraboo, WI
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin
Iron Mine - Florence, WI
The Menominee Range is situated mainly in the valley of the Menominee River, which lies on the boundary between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. That iron was located here seems to have been known before the Civil War, but mining dates back only to the 1870s. The Breen Mine was opened in 1872, and other locations opened soon afterward. Active shipments, however, had to await construction of a branch of the Chicago and North Western Railroad from Powers, Michigan, on the main line of the Peninsular Division, which reached the district in 1877. The best outlet for the range was at Escanaba, on Little Bay De Noc of Lake Michigan, to which the North Western constructed a direct line. The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad also penetrated the region and shipped ore over the Escanaba and Lake Superior line until it reached a pooling agreement for shipment over the North Western. Mines were opened at Vulcan, Norway, Quinnessec, Iron Mountain, and Iron River, Michigan, and at Florence, Wisconsin.
Shaft Sinking - Cary Mine - Hurley, WI
Shaft Sinking - Cary Mine - Hurley, WI
Cary Mine Shafts 4, 5 , 6 - Hurley, WI
Cary Mine - Hurley, WI
Cary Mine Shafts 4, 5 , 6 - Hurley, WI
Mine Hoist - Platteville, WI 1940
Lead Mine - Platteville, WI - 1940
Sunset Lead Mine - Rewey WI
Crescent Lead Mine - Mineral Point, WI
Kennedy & Hoskins Mines - Hazel Green, WI
Potosi Mining & Milling Co. - Potosi, WI
Rajah Mine - Linden, WI
Miners at the Optimal Mine - Linden, WI
Wisconsin Zinc Co. Winskill Mine 1915
Wisconsin Zinc Co. Winskill Mine 1915
Cary Mine - Hurley, WI
Motor Tramming - Montreal Mine - Montreal, WI
Commonwealth Mine - Florence, Menominee Iron Range, WI
Germania Mine - Hurley, WI
Plummer Mine - Montreal, Iron County, WI
Windsor Mine - Hurley, Iron County, WI
Cary Mine Shaft 5 - Hurley, WI
Montreal Mine - Montreal, Wisconsin
Commonwealth Mine - Florence, Menominee Iron Range, WI
Tyler Forks Mine - Iron County, WI
Tyler Forks Mine - Iron County, WI
Unknown Iron County, WI iron mine
Germania Mine - Hurley, WI
Timbering Crew - Montreal Mine - Montreal, WI
Timber Incline - Montreal Mine - Montreal, WI
Meekers Grove Mine - Cuba, WI
Lawrence Mine - Hazel Green, WI
Kennedy Mine - Hazel Green, Wisconsin
Penna Benton Mine - New Diggings, Wisconsin.
Penna Benton Mine - New Diggings, Wisconsin