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Ready to put on a hardhat and plunge a few hundred feet below a Vancouver-area landmark?

The Britannia Mine, situated less than an hour outside the city, was once the largest copper mine in the entire British Empire. From 1904-1974, around 60,000 workers labored here, digging a tunnel network more than 120 miles long. Now it’s your turn to take a peek inside.

The mine and its soaring twenty-story copper mill have been completely refurbished and opened to the public as the Britannia Mine Museum. Visitors climb aboard a miniature train set on narrow-gauge tracks for a ride deep into the mine, where the temperature is always a steady 54-degrees Fahrenheit. Guides describe mining conditions back in the day while showing off actual drills and other equipment.

Back outside in the light of day, there’s plenty to do, as well. Glimpse inside massive Mill 3, a twenty-story industrial building set into the mountainside that boasts a cathedral-like interior. Next, try your luck at the gold-panning pavilion, where water trickles through old-fashioned troughs and visitors can keep any nuggets they find.

The museum also features extensive historical displays and a machine shop with vintage equipment from 1908, including a restored ambulance.

photo: Britannia Mine Museum

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