Bell Island's Mine Museum and Underground Tour

Useful Information

Location: 13 Compressor Hill, Bell Island, NL.
From St. John's Route 40 to the Portugal Cove Ferry Terminal, ferry to the island. 20-minute ferry ride. From the ferry terminal follow Beach Hill, then Main Street, turn left at the church, then first right before the hospital.
(47.646350, -52.949313)
Open: JUN to SEP daily 10-18.
Fee: Museum with mine tour: Adults CAD 12, Children (12-18) CAD 10, Children (4-12) CAD 5, Children (0-3) free, Seniors CAD 10, Families (2+2) CAD 30.
Museum only: Adults CAD 6, Children (12-18) CAD 5, Children (4-12) CAD 2, Children (0-3) free, Seniors CAD 5, Families (2+2) CAD 15.
Classification: MineIron Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=7 °C.
Guided tours: V=10,000/a [2007]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: W. Martin (2003): Once Upon a Mine: Story of Pre-Confederation Mines on the Island of Newfoundland Montreal, The Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Special Volume 26, 98 p. ISBN 9780919086036. pdf
Address: Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum, 13 Compressor Hill, Bell Island, NL, Tel: +1-709-488-2880, Fax: +1-709-488-2909. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1895 first surface mining at Wabana.
1901 start of underground mining.
1902 No. 2 mine opened.
1914 due to the First World War, Germany was no longer the main customer, which led to economic losses.
1949 No. 2 mine closed.
JUN-1966 last mine on the island closed.
1998 mine museum opened.
2016 named Expedition of the Year by Canadian Geographic.
2016-2019 Certificate of Excellence.
2020 received Cultural Tourism Award.


Bell Island was once one of the world's largest suppliers of iron ore. 78 million tonnes of iron ore were shipped in total. According to estimates four billion tons of ore remains in the mines. The ore body is about 550 Ma old and contains mostly chamosite, hematite, pyrite, and siderite.


The No. 2 Mine on Bell Island was once the world's largest submarine iron ore mine. There is a mine museum, named Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum, which shows artifacts from the Islands mining past. An exhibition of old photographs tells about the mining history. There is also an exhibition of pictures by the famous photographer Yousuf Karsh. The underground tour is part of the museum.

Once there were six mines in total on Bell Island. Four of the mines, numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6, were submarine mines, which means the mines actually went under the sea floor. The other two mines (1 and 5) ended at the shoreline. The submarine mines extended up to 4.8 km from the shore into Conception Bay. Mining under the sea is only possible if the overlying rocks are water tight. In general there is a greater danger of water inrush, and as it is the sea this will generally cause the immediate flooding of the whole mine.

Mining on Bell Island was hard, because of the northern location the days in winter were very short, and so the miners did not see any sunlight for months. 80 horses were working underground at one time, pulling ore cars. Once inside the mine they never left again, some of them worked in the mine for 20 years. However, the horses were important, so they were treated well. Some say they were treated better than the miners.

The museum was closed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Pandemic, currently it is not clear if it will be open 2022.