Coudersport Ice Mine

Useful Information

Location: About 7 km east of Coudersport, Potter County. On the Roosevelt Hwy, at the entrance to Black Forest.
Open: closed.
Fee: closed.
Classification: mine shaft, Speleologyice cave.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=n/a, D=12m
Guided tours: currently closed.
Bibliography: Inez Bull: Cross Fork Tales.
Potter County Historical Society QUARTERLY BULLETIN # 83 January 1987.
Kevin Patrick (2004): Pennsylvania Caves & other rocky roadside wonders, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pa, USA, 248 pp, illus. p 201-207
Address: Coudersport Ice Mine, Ice Mine Rd, Coudersport, PA
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.


1897 the shaft had been sunk on the John Dodd farm in search for silver.
1889 a small hut erected over the mine entrance by John Dodd which disturbed the coldness trap mechanism. The hut was removed and the effect reappered.
1915 Prof M L Kelly visits the Ice Mine. Likes it and buys it! He increases the admission fee from 10c to 50c, a price that was maintained until 1965.
1921 sold to William A Shear.
1921 visited by Edwin Swift Balch author of Glacieres or Freezing Caverns in 1900.
1987 Shear died and the mine was sold to Ernie Mosch.
1990 closed to age, illness and dwindling receipts.


Coudersport Ice Mine is a pit or shaft, which shows a typical example of a coldness trap, also called Glacière. The cold air in winter is heavier than the warmer air in the pit, so it falls into the pit and cools it down. In summer the outside air is warm, but the heavier cold air in the pit is unable to leave it.

The whole hill is called Ice Mountain, supposedly after the ice in this shaft. In 1897 a strange ore was found, which was thought to be silver ore. The Coudersport Ice Mine shaft was built in this time in search for silver. But the ore turned out to be worthless and the mining activity was ceased.

When the shaft was built, the cracks in the rocks were already filled with ice. The miners joked, that they found an ice mine instead of a silver mine. So the mine got its name.

One thing about the coldness trap effect was very strange for the visitors: the cave has little ice in the spring, but in summer the ice grows. This seems rather strange, and is different to natural ice caves. But the explanation is rather easy: the cave is always cold enough to freeze water. The temperature rises slowly during summer, until in late autumn it gets at least warm enough, that the ice melts again. The amount of ice depends on the water in the shaft. In winter all the water is frozen, the cracks in the rock are sealed by the ice. It takes rather long until some water is able to enter the pit and freeze and thus produce some ice.

The site was open to the public for many decades. It seems that it is closed at the moment due to personal reasons of the owner. Still this site is so freaky that numerous sites on the web provide information about it.