Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Old Ben #17

Useful Information

Location: 5700 S. DuSable, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637.
From North: take South Lake Shore Drive turn east on 57th street. From South: take I-94 West, exit at 51st street exit, turn east on 51st street, right onto S. Hyde Park Blvd., turn right on 57th street.
(41.790543, -87.582771)
Open: All year daily 9:30-16.
Coal mine tours every 30 minutes.
Closed Thanksgiving, 25-DEC.
Fee: Adults USD 21.95, Children (3-11) USD 12.95.
Coal Mine tour: Adults USD 12, Children (3-11) USD 9.
Classification: MineCoal Mine SubterraneaReplica Underground Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Photography: allowed, no tripods
Accessibility: no
Address: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. DuSable, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637, Tel: +1-773-684-1414
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1933 museum opened.


The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is a most interesting museum with science and technology related exhibitions. The most impressive ones are the submarine, the Imax theatre and the coal mine.

Although mining of coal is common in Illinois, it does and did not occur in the city of Chicago. This mine is completely artificial, it is just an exhibition, a mine replica. However, one could argue that every mine is artificial, that is part of the definition of a mine. Mining is generally done with the intention to mine valuable resources. In this case it was done on educational purposes.

The visitors to Old Ben #17 are introduced to mine safety first, as the coal seams produce the inflammable methane gas, there is absolutely no smoking in the mine. Pretty funny, as there is actually no coal seam. But the visit is designed like a tour through a show mine, riding a mine elevator down the mineshaft and walking along the tunnels of the coal mine which are supported by wooden beams. It requires an additional ticket and is a guided tour.

The mine replica re-creates a working deep-shaft, bituminous coal mine which actually existed and was named Old Ben #17. The original equipment from 1933 was used for the replica, the mine replica was created when the museum was first opened.. On the outside there are dioramas showing the plants which actually formed the deposit. The replica is located in the museum's Central Pavilion.