Edgar Experimental Mine

The mountains above Idaho Springs and the nearby communities of Black Hawk, Central City and Georgetown show the abandoned mine openings and remnants of a romantic past: the “Rush to the Rockies” and feverish mining for silver and gold.

The Edgar mine, the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine, is a contemporary to that era. In the 1870s, it produced high-grade silver, gold, lead and copper. Today, as an underground laboratory for future engineers, it produces valuable experience for those who are being trained to find, develop, and process the world’s natural resources.

The Mines Mining Engineering Department is proud of the Edgar Experimental Mine and the purposes it serves: educational tours for the public and school groups; cooperation with industry, state, and federal organizations in research; and training of the manpower needed to maintain the nation’s leadership in the field of mineral engineering. Industry is highly supportive of the research and educational programs at the mine. In fact, most of the equipment used at the mine is donated by individual businesses and corporations.

A Special Thank You

We extend a special thank you to the FreePort-McMoRan Foundation for their generous donation of $1 million to fund infrastructure rehabilitation. This is the largest single gift in the history of the Edgar Experimental Mine and will help keep the facility current now and into the future. A complete removal and upgrade of the underground power, water and air distribution system was done. The new electrical installation allows for versatility in equipment use and location underground, facilitating a wider range of research and educational opportunity for students, researchers and users at Colorado School of Mines.

An Underground Classroom

Students with Blaster the Burro at Edgar Mine entrance.The Edgar Experimental Mine provides Mines students in Mining Engineering and other disciplines with a unique environment for research and practical training in mining techniques and systems. In this underground laboratory, Mines students gain hands-on experience in underground mine surveying, geological mapping, rock fragmentation and blasting practice, mine ventilation field studies, rock mechanics instrumentation practice, underground mine unit operations, and mine safety. Through a course in the practical use of mining equipment, students can apply classroom exercises to real situations in a realistic mining environment . The course runs the full cycle of underground mining operations, and includes hands-on experience with drilling, blasting, and mucking (loading blasted rock) using both rail mounted and rubber-tired mining equipment. By the completion of the course students have earned safety credentials in underground mining from an MSHA certified mine safety training instructor.

Although the Edgar Experimental Mine is managed and operated by the Mining Engineering Department, students from other disciplines have the opportunity to interact with the mine through projects in both EPICS and Senior Design. Examples in recent years include: Documentation and Design of a Mine Water Distribution Network for the Edgar Experimental Mine, Design of a Power Distribution Network of the Edgar Experimental Mine Army Adit, Modifications to the Surface Drainage Network for the Edgar Experimental Mine, Design of a Compressor Installation for the Edgar Experimental Mine Army Adit.


Research is carried out on a continuing basis at the Edgar Experimental Mine. Numerous academic, government, and industry groups, including the Mines Mining Engineering Department, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the U.S. Army, Mining Network Systems, Vital Alert and others participate in cooperative research ventures at the facility. Studies include tunnel detection, blasting, rock mechanics, communications and development of new mining equipment and methods.

Industrial Outreach

The Mining Engineering Department conducts a comprehensive industrial outreach program, including mine rescue training, for the mining industry. Collaborators include the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology (CDMG) and the Western Mining Resource Center (WMRC).

Rescue Training Program

Edgar Mine Rescue Training ProgramThe Mining Engineering Department’s Energy, Mining and Construction Industry Safety Program operates a full-function mine rescue training facility for use by the mining industry. Mine rescue training can be developed and tailored to the specific needs of any mining operation. Special training can be conducted for mine operators to address the individual needs of virtually any mine. Our rescue training includes:

  • Incident Command for Mine/Underground emergencies
  • Comprehensive Mine and Underground Search and Rescue
  • Computer rescue simulation training
  • General Heavy Lifting and Rescue using air bags
  • Confined space rescue training
  • Rope rescue training
  • Mine firefighting

Courses can be conducted either on-site at the Edgar Mine or at mine sites anywhere within the United States. For more information or to schedule mine rescue training, please visit the Western Mining Training Center page.

The Mining Engineering Department collaborates with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to conduct Mine Emergency Response Development exercises, mine rescue contests, and other training. More information regarding the state of Colorado’s training programs is available at their website.

Help the Mine Grow

Below are conceptual drawings of new facilities planned for the Edgar Experimental Mine. If you would like to play a part in the ambitious goal of bringing the Edgar Experimental Mine facilities into the 21st century, please contact Matt Schreiner at 303-567-2911 or mschrein@mines.edu.

Upper Site

At mine entry level, the facility will incorporate the current out-buildings into a consolidated structure.  This building will consist of staff offices, conference room, command center, researcher offices, graduate student cubicles, lunch room, men’s and women’s dry and restrooms.

Edgar Conceptual Drawings Schoolhouse

Upper Level Floor Plan

Lower Site

This building will replace the existing school house near the mine property entrance on 8th Avenue. This structure will include mine rescue offices, classroom, benching lab, events space, conference room, kitchen, and student cubicles.

Edgar Conceptual Drawings Schoolhouse

Lower Level Floor Plan


Students and staff conduct guided tours, by appointment, for the general public throughout the year. Tours cover one-half mile of underground workings representing over 100 years of mine development and generally last one hour, but can be tailored to accommodate some special requests. Displays show drilling, blasting and mucking equipment; topics include mining practice, mining economics and the industry’s role in modern society.

The mine is usually relatively dry and a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Hard hats are provided, but guests are asked to wear warm clothing and sturdy walking shoes. The mine is not wheelchair-accessible.


  • $25 for adults
  • $15 for children 12 and under
  • Large groups, organizations and schools should call for pricing and scheduling

*Prices are subject to change.


Edgar Experimental Mine
365 8th Avenue, PO Box 1184
Idaho Springs, CO 80452

Idaho Springs is approximately 40 miles west of Denver. It can be reached by Interstate 70 or US 6.

From Denver:

  • Take I-70 W toward Idaho Springs
  • Take exit number 240, turn right (north) at the top of the exit ramp, proceed 2 blocks to Colorado Boulevard
  • Turn left (west) onto Colorado Boulevard, proceed to 8th Avenue
  • Turn right (north) onto 8th Avenue
  • The mine is at the top of the hill.

Mine Foreman: Clinton Dattel, cdattel@mines.edu
Mine Manager: Lee Fronapfel, lfronapf@mines.edu

In 2024, the year of our 150th anniversary, we will celebrate Colorado School of Mines’ past, present and possibilities. By celebrating and supporting the Campaign for MINES@150 you will help elevate Mines to be an accessible, top-of-mind and first-choice for students, faculty, staff, recruiters and other external partners. The Mining department’s goals for Mines@150 include upgrading facilities, scholarships, and continuing to build on student experiences both in the classroom and out in the field. When you give, you are ensuring Mines becomes even more distinctive and highly sought-after by future students, alumni, industry, and government partners over the next 150 years. We look forward to celebrating Mines’ sesquicentennial with you and recognizing the key role you play in making the MINES@150 vision a reality through your investments of time, talent and treasure. Give now