1865: Cliffs Shaft aka New Barnum Mine in Michigan


The Iron Cliffs Company was established in 1865 by a group of New Yorkers including Samuel J. Tilden. They obtained property in Marquette County (Ishpeming, Michigan) and opened their first mine, the Barnum Mine, in 1867. Two shaft, the "A" and "B" were sunk. The company obtained three more mine pits by 1870. In 1877, Iron Cliffs began exploratory drilling on this site overlooking Ishpeming. Drilling uncovered iron ore, and in 1879 the company opened the Cliffs Shaft, then known as the "New Barnum". A new boiler house and engine house were built on the site in the early 1880s.

Shafts: A and B

In 1888, the name was changed from "New Barnum" to the "Cliffs Shaft."However, more changes were afoot: in 1891, the assets of the Iron Cliffs Company were merged with that of other iron companies in the area, including the Jackson Mine and the Cleveland Mine, to form the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, with William G. Mather as president of the merged company. A new dry was built after a disastrous fire in 1901. The original timber headframes over the A and B shafts were replaced with concrete headframes in 1919; a larger modern "C" shaft and headframe was built in 1955.


I understand that these concrete looking shafts A, and B were allegedly built in 1919. Both are apparently still standing and are a part of the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum

I have a feeling they could be lying to us.

The Cliff's Shaft Mine, ca. 1905. Vintage picture postcard, published by F. P. Tillson, Ishpeming.

The official version states that the A, and B were built in 1919, yet in 1905 both appear to be fully erect. Additionally check out this ugly Shaft "C", built in 1955.


Marquette Range: Mine Shafts of Michigan: Mining History
Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum
KD: Just figured I will through this out there. I was not able to independently verify that the postcard was really made in 1905.