This previous week well out of town and into Northern Minnesota, I had a very unique opportunity to visit what probably qualifies as my favorite state park in Minnesota. I like to call is Soudan State Park, but it is often times called by the more revealing and interesting sounding “Soudan Underground Mine State Park“. This basically covers why it is so neat. It is a iron mine that was retired in the 1960′s and give to the state who chose to offer tours and give a snap shot of what mining used to be on the Iron Range in Minnesota. There is a limited amount of information offered on the surface, but after the cost of a ticket for admission you get to go to the 27th floor. The 27th floor is the deepest part of the mine falling somewhere around 2500 ft deep and offering 2 vastly different tours.
The original tour existing in the mine that has existed for years consists of a ride down to the bottom floor of the mine in the still functioning mine elevator. Then a tour of the bottom floor with explanations of the mining past of the Soudan Mine. This experience can greatly vary my group found whether you go during a weekday or a weekend. The later still interesting, but not as neat as having your own personal guide to bounce questions off.
The second newer tour involves a terrifically expensive physics lab built at the bottom of the mine for multiple purposes. Currently it is being used for the MINOS Experiment and SuperCDMS which are on the cutting edge of science. If you have interest in either of these projects or would simply like to see a James Bond-esk science lab at the bottom of a retired mine this is definitely the tour to take.
Other than the relative remoteness of the Mine, there really isn’t a good reason to not go on the tour if you are ever within an hour or two of the mine. It is truly a unique experience that would be very hard to duplicate in another way.
Have you been to the Soudan Mine? Do you know of any other jewel state parks like this that seem to be quite hidden or so out of the way it’s hard to hear about them unless by chance?