America has a rich history of mining, from iron and coal to gold to oil. Across all fifty states, there is evidence of man's attempt to harvest natural resources from the ground.
Even when the industry moves on, these fascinating places can give us a tantalizing glimpse into the past. Old Irontown in Utah is a classic example of this, with the remains there providing an insight into pioneer iron production in the U.S. There's something about the history and nostalgia of mining which still captures our imagination to this day, and draws visitors from both here in the U.S and abroad.
In popular culture, games, TV shows and films continue to depict the era, proving it is a popular aspect of American history. These include Paint Your Wagon starring Clint Eastwood, and Matewan, depicting the coal miners' strike in 1920 in Matewan, West Virginia. Even the gold rush TV show Deadwood proved to be so popular it earned an unlikely two-hour reunion film recently. In gaming, online platforms have also embraced this cultural touchstone of American history. Cheeky Bingo has several slot titles dedicated to mining, including Dynamite Digger and Dynamite Digger Two, which include imagery closely associated with that time period. With such hunger for these types of shows and games, there's little surprise old mining towns and their mines are becoming prime tourist attractions. We have collated five of the best, should you wish to visit some of the forgotten mines and towns from U.S. history.
Quarry Park and Nature Preserve — St. Cloud, Minnesota
Quarry Park and Nature Reserve no longer features the buildings or town that made the area what it was, but the sensational scenery provides plenty of scope for scuba diving, swimming and photography. The site covers 680 acres and has 20 abandoned granite quarries to explore.
Bonne Terre Mine — Bonne Terre, Missouri
Those wanting a truly immersive mine experience should find time to travel south of St Louis to Bonne Terre Mine, a real gem in America's mining heritage crown. It was one of the earliest deep-earth lead mines in the world and even today it is still one of the largest man-made caverns on the planet.
Visitors can book tours of the old mule trails, or even travel the 17-mile long lake that sits deep below the earth's surface.
The Nadeau-Magnolia Mine – Indian Wells Valley, California
This understated location is a little different to the other two, as it isn't much of a tourist attraction. However, it's certainly worth a visit. For those with a real desire to see the true face of America's mining heritage they can make this trek to the middle of nowhere.
Volunteers have added some signage to the Nadeau-Magnolia Mine Site, which has a couple of buildings and some mining equipment, as well as a hike up to the old gold mine that leads to some beautiful views.
Virginia City – Montana
For true Deadwood fans, Virginia City is a must-visit, an abandoned town near Yellowstone National Park which has stayed looking the way it always has, ever since the gold rush of 1863. It's now a National Historic Landmark, which functions as an open-air museum. Half of the town's 300 structures were built prior to 1900 and many sit side by side with more modern restaurants and gift shops. It's a classic example of a mining town which aficionados of the genre should put on their 'must visit' list.
Maggie Mine - Calico, California
Calico once had 500 mines and over 3,500 inhabitants and serves as a wonderful reminder of how the industry used to be. One of those attractions is the Maggie Mine, which visitors can tour and experience exactly as it used to be in 1881 when the Mulcahy Bros mined it.
Many of the buildings were restored in the fifties and it's now a thriving tourist attraction and country park.