The Grand Rapids Gypsum Mines. I'll bet many of you didn't even know they existed, or that we even have mines under Grand Rapids, but they are there. And actually, the mining of gypsum was once a major industry in Grand Rapids.

What the heck is gypsum anyway? It's a soft mineral mined to be used in plaster, drywall, among other things, and Grand Rapids had an abundance of gypsum way back when, like 1841.

GRAND RAPIDS GYPSUM MINES

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Gypsum was mined around where Millennium Park is now.

GRAND RAPIDS MILLENNIUM PARK

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You know the The Mines Golf Course? Why is it named The Minds? Because it is built over part of the mines.

THE MINES GOLF COURSE OF GRAND RAPIDS

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No, they're not mining gypsum anymore, but the mines are still in use, nearly 100 feet below Grand Rapids and Wyoming.

They used to give tours through the mines. Many remember the fun school trips "to the mines!" But, sadly, no more.

So, what's going on there now? Well, for one, Founders Brewery stores beer down there.

FOUNDERS BREWERY BOURBON AGED BEER

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They store all of their Bourbon Barrels Beer there. Perfect, constant temperature and perfect humidity. Now I know why I like that bourbon barrel aged beer the best!

The Gypsum mines are still in use as the perfect place to store so many things.

GRAND RAPIDS GYPSUM MINES STORAGE

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According to the website Atlas Obscura, they now serve as secure dry storage, almost 100 feet below the cities of Wyoming and Grand Rapids. Underground Security Company stores microfilm records in the mine, including 70% of Michigan’s counties legal records. A different mine was somewhat famously used as a digital data center, and is now closed.

What a cool piece of history underneath Grand Rapids. Who knew!

 

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