The Mysterious Ice Mine in Coudersport, Pennsylvania

Behind this Door, the coolest place around!

Behind this Door, the coolest place around!

“Not all treasure is Silver and Gold”

The history behind the Ice Mine in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, is a story of sought for treasure and mystery. Off the beaten path, it is a wonder to see.

Although not actually a Mine, but around a 34-foot-deep shaft into the Earth, Ice is formed, above ground (and down within), ONLY in the Summer. This large accumulation of ice over the warm months recedes, and all but disappears during the coldest months of winter. It has puzzled scientists since it was first discovered. Not just because it seems impossible for ice to be forming on the hottest days of the year (wide open to the air), but because there is also not any source of water seen anywhere nearby. Where does the Ice come from?

The discovery of the Ice Mine might have been a disappointment for those who first noticed this peculiarity, but today it is believed treasure was found. It all depends on how you look at it. Like the above quote says, ‘Not all treasure is Silver and Gold’. The rare phenomenon of ice formation, and the mystery of the place, offers a value not measured in coins, but in amazement and smiles.

The story goes that back in 1894, Indians visited the area of Coudersport and were seen to possess valuable Silver. Thinking the Indians were mining Silver in the surrounding mountains, a search for their secret Silver Mine went underway. Instead of finding Silver, the hunters found Ice.

There are still stories that maybe Silver remains to be found in the mountains. Not so much from a lost mine, but possible stashes the Indians kept and left. It was realized the Indians traveled and carried the Silver into the area with them. They would then hide a stash of it, and when needed, would return to the spot to get. But some Indians might not have been able to return to their hidden stashes, and so maybe more than Ice can be found in the mountains of Potter County.

Ice forming in the Open Air (In June and 80 degrees out)

Ice forming in the Open Air (In June and 80 degrees out)

My family and I had a chance to visit the Ice Mine recently. The shaft sits right along a side of a mountain. There is an enclosure and to see the Mine is $5. But to experience the mystery is fun and there isn’t another place like it! As the owners of the Ice Mine say, It’s the coolest place around!

And it is. It was around 80 degrees when we visited, and when we walked through the door’s enclosure, just to the other side to see the ‘Ice Mine’ (shaft into the ground), the temperature dropped immediately to downright cold. You feel the freezing air coming up from the Mine and think, ‘OK, I can understand Ice could be formed here’. But then you have to ask, ‘where is the water to make it?’

ice mine and gift shop

Ice Mine and Gift Shop

The most popular theory is the Ice is made from the Moisture in the Air. The numerous crevices that are all around the shaft and that lead back into the center of the Mountain where the Cold Air from Winter has been trapped, allows the winter air to travel into the shaft and up. This mixture of cold with the Moist Summer Air then creates Ice.

Totally N-ICE N-ICE baby!

So, did you ever hear of Ice being created, ABOVE ground, during the Summer heat, without any source of flowing water nearby?

Well now you have…..and if you get chance….. have a visit.

Best of luck with all that you seek! Enjoy Life’s Adventures!



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10 Responses

  1. Mark J says:

    Wow, that is so interesting.

    Do you get to taste the ice?

    • Jenny Kile says:

      We didn’t. Since it’s open and on a mountainside, the top formations have a lot of debris (twigs, dirt, leaves, etc.) So it wasn’t a thought I had….lol…..

      But I didn’t ask and down in further it probably is quite clean…most likely cleaner than the icicles I used to eat off the barn roof when I was a kid. : )

      Now I wish I would have asked….

      next time, Mark!

  2. JL says:

    Thank you for the story, well written . An amazing thing to see I am certain. If I get out that way I will be sure to go look for myself.

  3. JC1117 says:

    Very cool, Jenny. Very cool, indeed. 🙂

    Isn’t the world an amazing and mysterious place?

    Thanks for pointing out another classic example.

    Have you heard of the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves? They are located in Idaho. I stopped in there once. There must be a similar type of geothermal convection (?) process.

    The Shoshone Indian Ice Caves are located in an ancient lava tube and the ice can be anywhere from 8 to 30 feet deep. On the day I visited the temperature above ground was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so the temperature contrast in the cave was extreme.

    I think I remember they would harvest the ice from the cave back in the day (before refrigerators) for use in ice boxes.

    This is what it looks like above ground at the ice caves…obviously not the tourist entrance. 🙂

  4. Ramona says:

    Thanks Jenny, that’s very interesting. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

  5. BW says:

    Jenny, you find the most interesting places to explore. You lead an adventurous life; I like that.

  6. Visited the ice mine a long time ago, 1959 or 1960, while working in the area on a summer job while attending college. Remember doing a little research, all now forgotten, but had not hear the silver story before. Also nearby is the bottomless lake, a small round lake that “no one knows how deep it is,” probably less then a 1/4 acre in area. Also, the ice mine is a lot nicer now then when I visited.

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