A 2,341-foot vertical train ride into the earth can get a little bumpy. The train in question is better known as the "cage," and it's the only way to get from the great outdoors to the deepest level of Soudan Underground Mine State Park.
The cage is a rust-colored, steel contraption that wouldn't look out of place in a horror movie. If you're claustrophobic, you're probably going to want to stay above ground. The cage ride takes just over three, ear-popping, cold, dark minutes.
When you finally arrive at your destination, the 27th mining level of this non-operational mine, there's another train ride waiting for you. Don't worry, this one's on horizontal tracks. The only things to look out for are the bats. That's right bats!
Think of the cage running down a path with 27 different tendrils shooting off its side -- one for each level. The tendrils lead to bigger spaces where iron was mined, and since the operation was shuttered in 1962, bats have claimed it for themselves.
In fact, the mines are home to one the largest little brown bat population in the state. Perhaps they love the temperature, which is a year round 51 degrees.
Another tenant of the mine is the physics lab. The mine's depth lured University of Minnesota researchers to set up shop over 25 years ago. Scientists working in the lab use instruments that are highly sensitive to cosmic rays. Being so far underground greatly reduces the risk of such rays.