Copper was discovered in the eastern region of Tennessee in 1843. Because of this, the Ducktown Basin mines were established. These mines remained operational from 1850 to 1987. Even though many of the mines closed before 1987, some of the functions of the mines and the sulfuric acid industry that was associated with the Ducktown Basin Mines remained functional.
The Ducktown Basin Museum was first opened in 1978 in a tiny store on Main Street in Ducktown. It was comprised mostly of donated items, but the citizens who established it were determined to maintain the mining heritage of the area. The museum was moved to the site of the Burra Burra mine in 1982.
The property was then purchased by the state of Tennessee in 1988. The museum itself was able to expand its collection as new artifacts were donated when the mines closed. The museum has also received many of the mining company's records, photographs, and documents, giving it a wide variety of mining history to display.
Nearly all of the original mine buildings and outbuildings remain on the site, a total of 16 structures. The headframe, however, was demolished in 1958 after the closing of the Burra Burra mine. The museum's collection is housed in the mine's office, the only building on site visitors can enter at any time. Visitors are also able to tour the grounds by appointment.