|City/Town: • Birmingham
|Location Class: • Industrial
|Built: • 1886 | Abandoned: • 1993
|Status: • Abandoned
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit
Ruffner No. 2 mine was an ore mine operating from about 1886 to 1953 on the southeastern slopes of Ruffner Mountain to supply the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company with red iron ore. The mine originally employed drift mining techniques to access exposed outcrops of the soft iron-rich Irondale Seam and some parallel outcrops of the Big Seam. Mining there was carried out by contracted workers, usually, African-Americans who worked under the direction of white supervisors. Utilizing picks, wedges, and explosive charges, miners were able to get to the ore. The ore would then be loaded into cars that were transported to the surface on tram rails. In 1892, miners were paid 60 cents per car which weighed about one ton, and were then paid by the weighted ton when scales were installed to weigh the cars. For long hauls, a bonus of 2½ cents was paid for every 400-feet of tramway.
Mining operations were improved in 1908 when drift mining techniques switched over to underground slope mining to get to less accessible areas. The mine was upgraded in 1929 with the addition of a 200 horsepower Hardie-Tynes steam-powered hoist. On the surface, a McCully No. 8 gyratory breaker was used, capable of crushing 100 to 180 tons of ore each hour. By 1939, Ruffner No. 2 was entirely modernized while the other Ruffner mines in the area had been abandoned years prior.
Operations at Ruffner No. 2 were abandoned in 1952. An accident occurred on July 25, 1971, when 20 tons of ammonium nitrate being stored by Southern Packaging exploded. Used for strip mining, the explosives were stored in a former wash house and in trucks that were parked nearby. The blast made a 35 foot by 65-foot crater, about 30 feet deep, injuring 13 people and causing over as much as $500,000 in damages to structures through the Roebuck-South East Lake area. The mine entrance was sealed and the property was ceded to Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve by 1993.