The Mines of Kennecott

Sometimes visitors to Kennecott ask about our “Mine Tour”. We get this little mix-up all the time – the old mines themselves were located about 4,000 feet above Kennecott along the ridgelines of the mountains above! Over 70 miles of tunnels ran through the hillside and hundreds of miners worked and lived in these remote operations.

Bonanza Mine

The miners lived in bunkhouses at the mines. They had access to a “gymnasium” and reading room, and there was even a pool table up at Erie Mine! Miners were fed in a heated underground lunchroom so they didn’t have to commute all the way back to the surface for lunch.

Historic photograph of underground dining room

“In the winter, as I understand it, the snow was so heavy there in the Jumbo and Bonanza you couldn’t even come outside … And essentially these men lived without seeing the outside air from the first of November to, what, the end of March?” (William Douglass, Kennecott Kids 2, 48)

Historic photograph inside a mine with a miner and train cart

The mines of the Kennecott Copper Company were quite impressive, the tunnels running 60-80 feet deep. Just the tunnel between the Jumbo and Erie Mines was 12,000 feet long, or 2.3 miles! The deeper levels were drier and preferred, while the upper levels had ice-covered walls and heavy fog. Temperatures in the underground mines never rose above 32 degrees which encouraged the men to work rather than grow cold. (Sullivan, 40)

Historic photograph of miner riding an oar cart


Occasionally the doctor would ride the buckets up to the mines to take care of the miners’ smaller ailments. He would perform surgeries in town. (Grauman 1977, pg. 47) How about that ore bucket ride?! The Bonanza and Jumbo arial trams were about 3 miles long and the entire trip took about 45 minutes. (Grauman 1977, pg. 45)


Want to learn more? Join us on an Alpine Hike to Jumbo or Bonanza Mines! Get incredible views of the valley, while exploring the historic artifacts of the old mining operation!


updated 06/2024

Other references: Dianne Milliard and the National Park Service



Skip to content