Republic Michigan in the Upper Peninsula and the Republic Mine
The Republic Mine is the only open pit mine in Michigan open for free public viewing.
Republic is 25 miles southwest of Ishpeming and 45 miles north of Iron Mountain on Highway M-95. The Republic Mine was part of the Marquette Iron Range.
The village of Republic grew up around the Republic Mine which first operated from 1872 to 1926. In the late 1950's, development of the open pit and crushing concentration facilities were begun. Approximately 1.5 million tons of concentrated iron ore pellets were shipped annually, until the national economic conditions forced inactivation of the mine in 1982. The ore produced from this mine was 88% pure iron oxide.
The Republic Mine is the only open pit mine in Michigan open for free public viewing. This inactive open pit iron mine, owned by Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, provides a unique opportunity for viewing by the public. From the observation stand near the pit's edge, you gain an appreciation of the enormous magnitude of planning and effort involved in the mining of low grade, surface deposits of iron ore which supply our nation's steel mills.
The Pit is 600 feet deep, with a pit surface area of 250 acres. The total mine area is 4 square miles. When operational, the annual production was 2.7 million tons of pellets of specular hematite. The ore was transported by rail to Marquette and Escanaba and then shipped by ore boat throughout the Great Lakes area.
By 1890, the 3 Upper Peninsula Iron Ranges, Marquette, Menominee and Gogebic, were producing 7 million tons of iron ore a year and became the nation's major producer of iron ore. By the end of the century, the 3 ranges were shipping out 9 million tons per year.
The size and depth of the pit attest to the millions of tons of overburden and ore-bearing rock removed. It is hard to imagine that this gigantic hole was once a 200 foot cliff rising from the banks of the Michigamme River.
The town name of Iron City was changed to Republic by Mr Ed Breitung, the founder or the mine, in 1880. He named it Republic for "the land of the free and the home of the brave".
Overlooking the open pit mine in Republic, just south of Munson Park.
A raised platform offers impressive views of the Mine property and Republic area.
Etched signs describe the mining process.
The observation stand is located only 1/2 mile off M-95. Turn east immediately south of the Michigamme River bridge (at Republic Township Beach), then right at the yield sign, then 1/4 mile to stand. A fence crosses the road here, but ends at the shoulder. The observation post is up the hill on the right side of the fence.
Rockhounds should look for specular hematite and magnetite which are abundant on the old mine dumps. You may also find crystallized quartz in openings in the specularite, good specimens of feldspar,beryl, red jasper, jaspilite and tourmaline.
Photograph of ore boat Ilford Sykes by Shane Costello
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