Department of Travel & Tourism
Kentucky Underground Mine Tours Prove Popular with Visitors
LYNCH, Ky. – More than 4,000 visitors of all ages from as far away as Australia and Scandinavia have experienced tours at the Portal 31 underground mine so far during the southeastern Kentucky attraction’s first full season of operation.
Since opening last March, the tours that recreate the life of underground coal miners in the 20th century have educated school groups, families and visitors from many states and countries about working life in this subterranean world. The tours will shut down for the season in late December and resume in March 2011.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the everyday person to travel through time and history and experience the life of the coal miner,” said Thyllis Sizemore, who organizes the tours.
Animatronic miners who wear authentic gear and speak to each other and visitors about their life under and above ground are among the main attractions of Portal 31. Up to 15 visitors at a time ride an authentic mine car into the former U.S. Steel Corp. mine at Lynch, which was one of the most productive coal mines in the world during its heyday in the mid-20th century.
Tours are open to all ages. Parents of small children are encouraged to exercise judgment about their reactions to being in the dark and seeing “live” figures appear, talk and move.
The tours, which last approximately one hour, include teaching aids for school groups.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with special tours on Sunday and Monday. Advance reservations are encouraged to ensure a specific tour time.
Portal 31 tours can be combined with a visit to the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in nearby Benham, Ky., a coal mining community built by the International Harvester Co. Here many artifacts and photographs from nearly a century of mining and regional life are displayed. Places to stay overnight in the area include the Benham School House Inn, which has been transformed from a community school built in the 1920s into a gracious inn with 30 guest rooms.
For more information, visit www.kingdomcome.org or call 606-848-1530.
The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism is an agency within the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet,
which promotes the Commonwealth as a travel destination. Tourism in Kentucky has an economic impact of
nearly $11 billion, employs more than 176,000 people and generates $1 billion in taxes.