Penokee Iron Range Trail – Gile Falls
Iron County Heritage Area
Mining Upside Down
The large tailing piles across the river from Gile Falls are waste rock left from its mining at the Montreal Mine #5 Shaft.
The Montreal Mine’s vertical shaft extended to the depth of nearly one mile underground. Like rungs on a ladder, horizontal tunnels called “levels” projected outward from the main shaft into the iron ore body every 300 feet.
Instead on mining downward, miners used drills and dynamite to blast up into the ore body above them, creating huge underground caverns called “stopes”. After each blast, the rock that fell down from the roof and walls was loaded into ore cars called “skips” and hauled up the main shaft to the surface.
Because “stope” mining used gravity to help move the rock it was considered more efficient, but it was also very dangerous. Weakened rock surfaces could collapse unexpectedly. Despite thousands of board feet of timber that shored up the tunnels, cave-ins were always a threat.
At the surface iron bearing ore was separated from waste rock and shipped via railroad to the ore docks in Ashland bound for eastern steel mills. These tailing piles are a reminder of the huge amount of rock that was mined from beneath the very ground you are standing on.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The City of Montreal (approx. ¼ mile away); Montreal Trails – The Montreal Mine (approx. ¼ mile away); George W. Sullivan (approx. ¼ mile away); Penokee Iron Range Trail – Montreal Location (approx. 0.6 miles away); Penokee Iron Range Trail – A Company Town (approx. 0.6 miles away); Flambeau Trail – Flambeau Trail Crossing (approx. 1½ miles away); This 5 ½ Foot Diameter Drill Core (approx. 2.3 miles away); Penokee Iron Range Trail – Historic Iron County Courthouse (approx. 2.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montreal.
Additional keywords. Mining
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 31, 2011, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 502 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 31, 2011, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.