The Local


Red Mountain’s Wenonah No. 10 Mine

Red Mountain’s Wenonah No. 10 Mine

In 2017, Red Mountain’s historic Wenonah No. 10 Mine was reopened for viewing and informational purposes. Today, the site of the mine and the nearby Redding Hoist House serve as mementos commemorating the mining history of Birmingham, specifically the events and practices that took place on Red Mountain. Not only are the mine and hoist house significant in regard to the past, they also serve as fascinating destinations for both historians and hiking enthusiasts.

“Red Mountain is of great historical importance because it’s the only place in the world that contained the three ingredients required to manufacture steel, those being iron ore, coal and limestone,” said Birmingham historian Bill Ivey. “They could produce it much cheaper than U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh, so they quickly rose as a major competitor in the industry.”

According to the Red Mountain website, the mines were constructed in 1880 after industrialists Henry DeBardeleben and Thomas Hillman formed a partnership a year earlier. After the establishment of the Alice (named after DeBardeleben’s daughter) Furnace Company in downtown Birmingham, the duo decided to build a pair of mines on Red Mountain in order to provide additional iron ore for their new business venture. Those mines were the Alice mine and the Redding Mine (No. 10).

“Henry DeBardeleben opened the Alice Furnace Company in 1880 and this was one of the mines that they opened to provide iron ore for the furnace,” said Red Mountain historian Jeff Newman in regard to Wenonah No. 10. “It was soon after acquired by Tennessee Coal and Iron before U.S. Steel approached TCI and obtained the mine in 1907.”

According to the Red Mountain website, after the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (TCI) took over the mines in approximately 1902, they changed the designation of all of their mines from names to numbers. With this change, the Redding Mine became known as Wenonah No. 10 Mine, as it is identified today. The mining operations conducted within the No. 10 mine had ceased completely by 1956 and it remained sealed for 61 years. The concrete slab obstructing the mine was removed in late 2017, allowing individuals to view the interior of the mine behind a set of protective steel bars.

The mine itself can stimulate feelings of exploration and excitement. Picture yourself in the shoes of the miners removing iron ore from the ground in the 1880s. The picturesque view of the mountain, mine and horizon carry an abundance of inquisitiveness, peaking the interest of visitors young and old.

Today, the site remains in virtually pristine condition and serves as a serene hiking destination. If you are not afraid of the possibility of some mud in the springtime or encountering a few ticks in the summertime, the location of Red Mountain’s No. 10 Mine can be a memorable experience for locals and travelers alike. 

The Spanish mission-style hoist house of the Redding Shaft Mine which operated from 1917 to 1927.