Helen Bess Mine

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The Helen Bess Mine is a former red iron ore mine which supplied Wallace McElwain's Irondale Furnace beginning in 1864. It is, after the Eureka No. 1 Mine, the earliest commercial ore mine on Red Mountain.

The mine site was situated on the crest of Red Mountain and in the flanks of a ravine in the southern slope.

Originally the soft red ore of the "Big seam", which formed an outcrop, was simply quarried from the surface and moved by tramway to the furnace site. By 1909 a sloping mine shaft 500 feet long had been dug into the "Irondale seam" with seven headings on each side at 60-foot intervals. Another bed, the "Ida seam", was also accessible, but produced harder, lower quality ore. The ores from the Big and Irondale seams ranged from 32 to 35% iron content, 30 to 32% silica, and 6 to 8.5% lime.

After ____, the mine was operated by the Birmingham Ore and Mining Company, and a spur from the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was laid into the base of the ravine. The mine was closed in 1920.

The mine entrance became part of the property of the Rick Woodward residence on Altamont Road, constructed in 1924.