An Underground Phenomenon
"All of the rock missing was taken out by man. They didn't have any caves or natural caverns when they were in here working," explained Cathy Goergens, who owns the former mine with her husband, Doug. "In the early days, when the mines hired a man, they gave him a shovel and he was expected to load 21 of these on his ship by hand or by shovel. The pay at that time was a dollar [per] day. Well, in the 1800s that was pretty good money."
Although the mine is fascinating, a more amazing phenomenon is the billion-gallon lake formed by years of water seeping through stone walls.
"They'd use the big shovels you saw up top, scoop up large loads of rock and they'd dump it down," she said. "Well, you see the two rocks I have right here? If you do it right, it makes the most awesome sound."
Tours last about an hour and take visitors through the labyrinth of tunnels and passageways. You can even take a boat ride on the underground lake.
"You're also going to see the floor and then it's going to drop down to about 100 feet deep," Cathy said. "From the ground surface down, that shaft goes 375 feet deep."
The lake's crystal-clear waters are so popular with scuba divers that they come here year-round.
"The diving here is all considered open water and that means that at any time, if a diver has to, they can come up to the surface or reach a pocket of air," she added.
National Geographic magazine listed the mine and lake as one of the top adventures in the world.
"On the deepest levels, the mine runs two miles east and west of town and a mile north and south of town," Cathy explained. "So while you're on the tour, keep in mind that you have two major levels under you that are just like what you are looking at, but they go out further and they're full of water."
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