Colby Mine

Colby Mine

Colby Mine

President - Charles L Colby
Vice President - E H Abbot
Treasurer - Charles L Colby
Secretary - E H Abbot
General Office - Miwaukee, WI
Mine Office - Bessemer, MI

This is where it all started and by 1884 the iron mining rush was on!

Colby Mine 1884-1923
By Richard Steiger

The first iron ore mine to begin operations on the Gogebic Range     was located at Bessemer.  It was the Colby Mine.Richard Langford is generally credited as the discover of hematite ore at the hill to the south of present day City Hall.He made his discovery circa 1880 from the exposed rooted area of a fallen birch tree.  Nat Moore, a mining person, disclosed the discovery which led to further interest in a mining development.

The Penokee and Gogebic Development Company wasformed to secure the property, establish infrastructure,and produce rich hematite ore for America’s steel mills.Early mining was at the surface.  A steam powered shovel was used to extract the ore and ready it for shipment. In the fall of 1884 the first shipment of 1,022 gross tons was sent to Ashland Wisconsin.  It is not known exactly how this ore shipment to Ashland took place as the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railroad was still in the process of extending the rail line from Bessemer to Ashland.

Railroad records indicate that the first shipment of hematite ore  from the Colby Mine was made on November 21, 1884. It was loaded from a temporary dock and into the steamship “Charles Wall” for shipment to Lake Erie. The Bessemer Area Historical Society has a letter from the Chicago & North Western Railway Company, Ashland Division, providing the above shipping information.

The Colby Mine operated until 1923.  It shipped hematite ore every year except 1895 and 1922.  The final depth of the mining operation was 1,750 feet.  The Colby Mine was most productive during the World War I period.  Corrigan, McKinney Steel Company was the owner operator for many years.

A total of 5,573,051 gross tons of hematite ore was shipped from the Colby Mine between 1884 and 1923.

Also of note: The first mining accident on the Gogebic Range occurred at the Colby mine in 1885 when Herman Rubert, his son, and William Rowe were killed instantly by a cave-in.