Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum
300 Kent Street
Open June 3 through Labor Day
Iron Mountain, MI 49801
Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Monday - Saturday
Seasonal Phone: (906) 774-1086
Noon - 4 pm Sunday
Admission Rates: Click here
The Cornish Pumping Engine, the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built in the United States, is a Michigan
Historic Site (1958), a National Historic Site (1981), a Michigan Historic Civil
Engineering Landmark (1984) and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering
Landmark (1987). In addition to the mammoth steam engine, this museum also
displays extensive underground mining equipment and contains the Museum Gift Shop.
The Cornish Pumping Engine is the largest standing steam-driven pumping engine ever
built in the United States and one of the largest pumping
engines in the world. It is famous for dewatering Iron
Mountain's Chapin Mine, one of the wettest mines ever
worked, and the largest producer of iron ore on the
Menominee Iron Range.
The giant 725-ton Cornish Pumping Engine rises 54 feet
above the engine room floor and measures 75 feet from the
back of the end of the pump bob to the back of the flywheel
which measures 40 feet diameter and weighs 160 tons.
The flywheel's normal speed was 10 RPM. Pumping capacity at 1,500 feet was 319
gallons per stroke, or 3,190 gallons per minute. This
equaled 191,400 gallons per hour and 4,593,600 gallons
per 24 hours.
At a depth of 600 feet, "D" shaft of the Chapin Mine, the engine's original site, contained
four pumps located approximately 150 feet apart with 3,000-gallon holding
At a depth of 1,522 feet, "C" Ludington Shaft of the Chapin Mine, the
pumping engine's current site, had eight pumps ranging from 170 to
190 feet apart with 3,000-gallon holding tanks.
Edwin Reynolds, the designer of the Cornish Pumping Engine,
worked for the E.P. Allis Company of Milwaukee and was assisted
by his nephew, Irving H. Reynolds. The estimated cost of the
engine and pumps was $250,000 at the time.
Erection of the pumping engine and pumps began in the spring of 1892, but the giant steam engine
didn't start up until January 3, 1893.
Portions of the Chapin Mine gradually settled beginning in 1885, forming a
"pit" on either side of Stephenson Avenue in downtown Iron Mountain.
These twin pits did not contain water until pumping ceased after the Chapin
Mine closed August 1, 1932.
In 1934 the Oliver Iron Mining Company offered the Cornish Pumping Engine
to Dickinson County as a "relic for sight seers to visit" and the Keweenaw Land
Association, fee holder of the Chapin Mine, agreed to lease the land around the pumping
engine for one dollar with the provision that the area would be fenced in and tax free.
Dickinson County workers razed the building, removed the frame housing, cleaned up the
site and installed a chain link fence around the sandstone foundation. Years later, the
Menominee Range Historical Foundation obtained ownership and possession from
Dickinson County and the Keweenaw Land Association. In the fall and winter of 1982-1983,
a metal building was erected to protect the famous pumping engine from the elements,
preserving it for future generations.
The Mining Museum exhibits a rare collection of underground mining equipment used in area iron ore mines. Engines,
ore cars, jack hammers, drilling equipment, pumps of various types, tuggers, scrapers, skips used to transport ore to
the surface, man cars to transport miners to work areas, a dynamite car, a head sheave which held the cable on the
cage moving the men to the surface and a steam boiler are some of the artifacts on display. Some large pieces of
mining equipment are displayed on the museum grounds.