“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Republic in Marquette County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Life of a Miner

The Life of a Miner Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2014
1. The Life of a Miner Marker
Inscription.  Various underground mining occupations included trammers, teamsters, drilling teams, blasters and at the very top “miner.”

Ore extraction in the 1870's was pure manual labor. The ore was broken from the surface with picks, sledge hammers and blasting, loaded on horse or mule-drawn wagons and then loaded again on railroad cars. Within a few years the surface ore was depleted and the Republic Iron Company, among others, began to sink shafts to extract the ore, using more complicated technology. Mining was dangerous and many deaths and accidents happened, often leaving a widow as the only wage earner for a large family. There was little financial compensation for a death or accident and most of that came from the miners themselves through payroll deductions.

The number of men employed at the Republic Iron mine in 1883 was 650. In 1909 there were 350 employed and the number dropped prior to the 1928 closing. The average wage was $2.25 to $4.50 a day for many years, increasing slowly. However, in Republic the company offered good housing for $2 to $5 a month and provided a mine hospital (medical expenses were deducted
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from the miner's paycheck). In 1879 there were 75 neat and substantial company houses available for the workers. After the reopening of the mine in the 1950's the number of employees was 85 men in 1957, increasing to 570 men in 1964 and 708 in 1980. The average wage in 1965 was $3.26 an hour plus incentive pay; the average wage in 1980 was $10.25 an hour plus incentive. They worked at occupations such as power shovel operators, truck drivers, drillers, blasters and workers who supervised the highly mechanized pellet operation.

CCI was considered a progressive company, as far as the welfare of their employees went, especially after William G. Mather became president. Safety programs were installed and modest pensions were offered. However, there were few early strikes in Republic for wage increases and two were successful. Because the mine was closed through the 1930s and '40s, we were spared the massive strikes and labor violence of 1946, though some Republic men may have worked at other area mines and certainly sympathized with and supported the striking miners in the region. When the mine reopened, all non-administrative employees belonged to the United Steelworkers Union, Local #5440.
Erected by Republic Area Historical Society and Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Incorporated.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists:
Marker detail: Republic Underground Mine image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Republic Underground Mine
Industry & CommerceLabor Unions.
Location. 46° 24.212′ N, 87° 58.91′ W. Marker is in Republic, Michigan, in Marquette County. Marker can be reached from Park City Road, 0.2 miles south of River Road (County Road 601), on the right when traveling south. This is one of several interpretive markers at observation site overlooking the former Republic Open Pit Mine. Site access is from a parking area on the west side of Park City Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Republic MI 49879, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Mine Exploration and Development (here, next to this marker); Community History and Other Industries (here, next to this marker); The Republic Open Pit Mine (here, next to this marker); Welcome to the Republic Open Pit Mine Observation Site (a few steps from this marker); Reopening the Mine and Moving Republic (a few steps from this marker); The Republic Iron Company (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cecil E. Munson Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); In Memory of the Men Who Lost Their Lives (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Republic.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Republic Iron
Marker detail: Pascoe Pit image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Pascoe Pit
Mine, Republic, Michigan
The Life of a Miner Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2014
4. The Life of a Miner Marker
(first of the two markers on the right)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 8, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 7, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 136 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 7, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Feb. 23, 2024