Iron Country

The iron mining and smelting history of Dodge and Sauk County

Curated by the late George Frederick (August 16, 1944–April 29, 2013) historian and local author of When Iron was King

Mayville “Pittsburg of the West” —When Iron was King

For a period of eighty-three years, (1845–1928) iron mining and smelting was the main industry of this area. The first iron mines in Wisconsin were opened five miles south of Mayville, near the village of Neda.  The first blast furnace in Wisconsin was built in Mayville.

Walk through an extensive collection of photos, artifacts, and original mining company books to learn about this area’s unique mining history in Dodge County.

Examine an actual iron ore car (from the early 1900’s) that was retrieved from the Iron Ridge Mine at Neda.  It weighs 1850 lbs, could hold 2 tons of ore, and was pulled by a single mule.  The car, filled with actual iron ore, has been placed on original rail and is located near an underground tunnel door to simulate the actual mine entrance.

Individual sections portray the three local iron mines: Mayville “Open Pit” Mine, Mayville Shaft Mine, and the Iron Ridge Mine.  Mayville’s blast furnaces and coke plant, both operated by the Northwestern Iron Co. (Mayville Iron Co.), are also chronicled.  Some actual artifacts, including 100-lb. bars of pig iron (the product of the local furnaces) and a company wheelbarrow, are on display.  Also shown are some pieces of the equipment from the coke plant and even the blueprints for the company’s hospital.

Sauk County Mines

Panels on the west wall detail four Sauk County mines.

Iron Country exhibit in the basement level of the Mayville Limestone School Museum
Iron ore car (from the early 1900’s) filled with actual iron ore, and placed on original rail.