"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to: navigation, search

AVENUE TOP MINE. Operating at peak production in 1906-1907, the Avenue Top Mine was located on the site later occupied by Steve's Plumbing at 1094 University Avenue. The site had been a LEAD mine until 1880 operated by the AVENUE TOP MINING COMPANY. (1) The Avenue Top Mine yielded about $150,000 in lead ore, then $25 in DRYBONE, and later over $100,000 in BLACK JACK. (2) So active was the Avenue Top in 1906 that a shortage of experienced and apprentice miners was reported in the city. (3)

The Avenue Top Mine was first developed in 1875 by the McNulty, Burt and Company with the discovery of a large body of GALENA in the uppermost level or first opening. The working were later expanded to include three levels. The deepest level yielded sphalerite (ZnS) known locally as BLACK JACK. In the 1890's the eastern portion of the workings were operated by the Avenue Top Mining Company and the western portion were operated by the Bush Mining Company. The main shaft was located at the present intersection of University and Booth Streets. The exact location is under the electric substation. The shaft was 200 feet to the third opening, 120 feet to the second and 60 feet to the first. (3)

In 1910 the mine was purchased by the Acquinico Mining and Development Company which owned GOLD, silver, copper, LEAD and ZINC mines throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In early January, the company had workers removing all the old equipment in preparation for new mining equipment with three times the capacity. (4) Anticipation was high that the mine would return Dubuque to a center of mining activity. The previous owners had had to close down their operations due to financial problems just as a large pocket of ore had been discovered. (5)

With its estimated 700 to 2,000 abandoned mine shafts, Dubuque occasionally experiences the loss of a front yard or collapse of a street. A land-surface collapse along Hill Street in 1983 demonstrates the difficulty in precisely locating old underground mine workings and the uncertainty in predicting areas of possible mine-related subsidence. Published records are only accurate enough to establish the close proximity of this collapse to the abandoned workings of the Avenue Top Mine now inaccessible for underground inspection and evaluation. (6)

When financial troubles caused the Avenue Top Mine to close, the mill reverted to Mr. Ott who had sold the mine to the Aguinico Mining Company. In 1924 J. J. Ott sold the Avenue Top ore concentrating mill near the DUBUQUE BOAT AND BOILER WORKS. The mill had been constructed by the AVENUE TOP MINING COMPANY in 1919. Buying the mill were John Peter ELLWANGER, William H. MEUSER, and P. F. Ryder who were all involved in the operation of the GOOSE HORN MINE. The mill was purchased for processing their ore. (7)



1. Tigges, John T. and Shaffer, James L. Then & Now--Dubuque, Iowa, Arcadia Publishing Company, p. 55. Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=qoRAnbmv7fUC&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=Avenue+Top+MIne+%28dubuque%29&source=bl&ots=8neJBq8ev3&sig=7nQLO30DttWIgZj4aXPird1vQQo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NY5UU-ikGczgsASktYDABA&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=Avenue%20Top%20MIne%20%28dubuque%29&f=false

2. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911, p. 30. Online: http://archive.org/stream/cu31924028913965/cu31924028913965_djvu.txt

3. "Mining Help is Short in City," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 17, 1906, p. 2

4. "New Owners Open Avenue Top Mine," Telegraph-Herald, January 2, 1910, p. 9

5. "New Owners Open Avenue Top Mine," Telegraph Herald, January 2, 1910, p. 9

6. Ludvigson, Greg A. and Dockal, James A. "Lead and Zinc Mining in the Dubuque Area," Online: http://www.igsb.uiowa.edu/browse/leadzinc/leadzinc.htm

7. "Avenue Top Mill Changes Hands," Telegraph-Herald, June 10, 1913, p. 20