Britannia Mine Museum – Britannia Beach, British Columbia - Atlas Obscura

Britannia Mine Museum

Britannia Beach, British Columbia

From mining complex to industrial exhibition, this museum once played a major part in the X-Files. 


Built up against a verdant hill in British Columbia, the 20-story building at the center of the Britannia Mine Museum is a massive relic of the copper industry, and now it can be explored by you and me.

The umbrella of the Britannia Mine Museum, established in 1971 actually covers 23 different buildings from across the history of the Canadian mining industry, but the most well known is likely Mill 3, “The Concentrator.” This building was built in stepped levels up the hill back in the early 20th century to enclose an ore processing operation that used gravity to push the rocks along. During its operation, the Britannia Mine as a whole was one of the largest sources of copper in Canada.

Today the site only operates as the Britannia Mine Museum, which itself has won multiple awards. Visitors can take a look at the haunting and aging inner workings of Mill 3 and the other buildings in the complex, and get a real sense of the full scope of such a massive mining operation. There are also a number of kid-friendly, interactive exhibits that allow them to pan for their own ore and the like. 

Even if you can’t make it to the museum, many people will recognize the location from the pivotal X-Files episode, “Paper Clip.” The Mill 3 building was used as the set where Mulder and Scully discover a system of subterranean filing cabinets filled with secret papers. They even catch a glimpse of some E.T.s! Fans of mining and X-Files won’t be disappointed here. 

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