Chinn Mine is an abandoned calcite mine turned tourist attraction, restaurant, and gasoline station located across the mouth of Shawnee Run along the Kentucky River in Brooklyn, Kentucky.
Chinn’s Mine was part of the Central Kentucky Mineral District and consists of more than 200 vertically dipping vein deposits, including barite, calcite, fluorite, galena, and sphalerite. 3 Mining along the Kentucky River began circa 1900, with significant mines operating at Mundys Landing, Gratz, and elsewhere.
A calcite mine was begun by Colonel Jack Chinn of the Chinn Mining Company at Mundy’s Landing and consisted of a nearly vertical fissure vein approximately six- to 16-feet-wide that was traceable for at least one mile to the south. 5 6 7 Ccryptograined limestone, 2 baryte, fluorite, and sphalerite were also discovered within the fissure. 5 6 7
A mill was built on the river at the mouth of the mine, which pulverized calcite that was then shipped to High Bridge on a barge where it was loaded into railroad cars along the Cincinnati Southern. 1 Some was sent by river to Madison, Indiana where it was loaded onto trains and taken to Corning, New York. 8 The facility had a capacity of 60 tons of calcite per day. 1
During World War I, the calcite mines operated 24 hours per day, seven days per week as the calcite was used in the production of optical glass. 8 The war increased the demand for the mineral which went into the manufacture of binoculars, periscopes, and other instruments. Mining at Mundy’s Landing ceased in the 1920s. 3 8
At Brooklyn, Chinn operated a fluorspar mine which also ceased operations in the 1920s. 9 In 1930, 10 using blasting techniques he had learned from his grandfather, Col. George M. Chinn blew out a tunnel 250 yards long and opened the Cave House, a speakeasy. 9 10
Chinn, a Marine Corps colonel, who was a graduate of the Millersburg Military Institute and Centre College, was a weapons troubleshooter in World War II and Korea and was later called back into the corps for service during the Vietnam War at age 64. 9 He described the Cave House as “the only cave in Kentucky where Daniel Boone never spent the winter.”
I owe no banker, have sworn fealty to no person—if you like me, come in, if you do not, there is the river, go jump in it!Col. George M. Chinn 10
Motorists along US Route 68 were lured with gasoline, ham sandwiches, and hot dogs at a restaurant in the front, and those who walked further back into the mine were able to partake in slot machines and enjoy hard beverages at a bar. 9 Col. Chinn was later brought into court for running an illegal game of chance, but he successfully defended himself by providing that he had rigged the machines to eliminate any chance of winning. 9
The Cave House closed in the late 1930s but it was later reopened and fitted with some armor plating after Chinn had been called back into service to develop a gun that could be used against snipers in the jungles of Vietnam. 9 Within 7½ months, with the help of other experts and the Naval Ordnance Station in Louisville, Chinn had developed the Mk-19 high-velocity grenade launcher which was used successfully in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. Chinn also headed the development of the Mk-22, and 20mm and 30mm cannons, and used the former mine as a firing range.
- McFarlan, Arthur C. “Vein Materials.” Geology of Kentucky, Lexington, University of Kentucky, 1943.
- “24K Geologic Formations.” Kentucky Geologic Map Information Service, University of Kentucky Geological Survey, map.
- “Central Kentucky Mineral District.” University of Kentucky Geological Survey, 1 Nov. 2017. Article.
- Byron, T.L. “Chinn’s Cave.” The Kentucky Files, 4 Oct. 2015. Article.
- Miller, A.M. The Geology of Kentucky. Department of Geology and Forestry, Frankfort, 1919. p. 326.
- Zodac, P. “World News on Mineral Occurrences.” Rocks and Minerals: 24(3), 1949. p. 255.
- “Chinn Mine.” Mindat.org, Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, 9 Oct. 2017. Article.
- Bright, Sallie. “Old hotel stands as reminder of busier days on the river at Mundy’s Landing.” Advocate-Messenger [Danville[, 18 Mar. 1986, p. 21.
- “Kentucky’s ‘Buddha of Ballistics’ a man of wit and humor, too.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Apr. 1995, p. 6.
- Combs Jr., L. N. “‘If You Like Me, Come In; If You Do Not, There Is The River – Go Jump In.’ Says George Chinn of Visitors to Cave House.” Lexington Herald, 9 Aug. 1936, p. 1.
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[…] while back, I posted an inquiry about Chinn’s Mine to a Kentucky-based photography-focused forum. I was curious as to the history of this unique […]
This isn’t the Chinn Mine. The mine itself is located at Mundy’s Landing, a short distance from a second underground mine. Due to the vertical nature of the veins in this area, the mines have large stopes from which ore was extracted – easily thirty feet vertical in places. I have photos taken underground in the mines. The Cave House was never a mine.