Monday, August 9, 2010

Iron Mountain

Our three days here in Iron Mountain have passed quickly. They've also been miserably hot. And humid! Today our friends were back at work at their Habitat for Humanity build. So, we decided to stop by this afternoon to check out their work and see how everyone was holding up in the heat. They have made very quick work of this 3-bedroom, 1-bath home, which has gone from slab to this in just a week.

Our friends Don and Judy were holding up well. (It was really hot!) They were busy nailing foam sheets to the exterior wall.

Len and Mary Ellen paused to think, or rest, or maybe both! Despite the heat, everyone was excited about the work.

We weren't sure who was going to climb this ladder. Mary Ellen or Judy? They sure were all smiles, though! We were very impressed with everyone's work.

We decided to get cool by going underground. We were gifted two tickets to the nearby Iron Mountain Mine, which we were supposed to tour with our friends on Saturday. But, since we were held over in Lake Delton, we had to save our fun for today. The mine is hard to miss. "Big John" stands guard over the entrance.

We donned hard hats and raincoats for the train ride down into the mine. We weren't exactly sure what a drift or a slope was, but going 2,600 feet into the ground seemed exciting...and a bit scary...even if it is a paradise.

Riding the train along the skinny, drippy tunnels in the mine gave us a sense of what it might have been like for miners who traveled these tracks every morning and night from 1877 to 1945. Back in the day, when this mine first opened, it took three men 10 hours to dig just four feet. All while enduring pounding noise and breathing soot. Once again, we were thankful that we're just tourists on this trip!

The temperature inside the mine was a cool 43 degrees. So, it was comfortable, but creepy. When our guide turned on the lights to show us the big stope - a huge manmade chamber - bats flew. Eeeeeeew! Once the flying mammals cleared, this big hole deep in the ground was pretty impressive. Of course, for the rest of the day we had the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit "Sixteen Tons" in our heads.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store.

As the Summer sun sets here on Lake Antoine in Iron Mountain, we say "so long" to our hard working friends and wish them cool weather for the rest of their week here. Tomorrow, we're continuing our Yooper explorations further East.

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