Mining history

Association holds annual conference in Marquette County

The Mining History Association is hosting its 29th annual conference in Marquette County, beginning with tours on Thursday of mining industry sites like the Tilden Mine, at left. Below left: Members of the group pose for a photo near the Tilden Mine pit. Below right: Another stop on the tour was the Cliffs Cottage in Ishpeming, a residence built by William G. Mather. (Journal photos by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — More than 100 mining enthusiasts from around the American Midwest converged in Marquette Wednesday evening to take part in the Mining History Association’s 29th annual conference, which runs through Sunday.

The event, which is being held for the first time in Marquette County, featured tours of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.’s Tilden Mine operations, and the historic Cliffs Cottage in Ishpeming on Thursday.

Attendees were bused to the Tilden Mine pit overlook, where they were able to look into the 1,500-foot-deep pit and see in action the only currently operating iron ore mine in Michigan.

The second stop on Thursday’s tour was the Cliffs Cottage in Ishpeming.

Much of the original stonework on and surrounding the residence built by Cliffs’ longtime president and chairman William G. Mather between 1891-92 still remains.

Another fixture that has stood the test of time is Mather’s own Brunswick-Balke-Collender six-pocket pool table, which was added when the cottage underwent some additional work in 1903.

Other points of interest for conference attendees include the Eagle Mine’s Humboldt Mill, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee Township, a historic walking tour of downtown Marquette, a rock collecting field trip, and a reception and picnic at the Cliffs Shaft Museum, as well as a variety of presentations on mining from experts in all fields.

Silvia Pettem, a historical researcher and writer from Colorado and a conference presenter, said she was enjoying the conference so far.

“You get to learn so much about the area you are visiting,” Pettem said during the Tilden Mine tour on Thursday. “But we also get to talk about other aspects of mining in other areas of the country.”

Local mining topics in the conference were to include a broad overview of Upper Peninsula iron and gold mining, Escanaba and Gladstone ore docks in hindsight, copper mining on Isle Royale and a presentation by Barnes and Hecker descendant Mary Tippet.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.