Central Range Mining

Iron Ore to Build a Growing Nation

Since the turn of the century, the nation's iron and steel needs have been largely met with iron ore shipped from more than 400 producing iron ore mines located on Minnesota's three iron ranges. During the century's first decade, 208 million tons of iron ore were shipped down the  Great Lakes, and in the next ten years, reflecting the demands of World War I, total shipments exceeded 360 million tons. The tempo continued throught the 1920s, when shipments for the ten-year period approached 365 million tons, and it was clear that as the national economy expanded, iron mines of Minnesota would be busy. And busy they were. Earth and rock overburden had to be removed in order to expose the iron ore. Carefully engineered plans had to be followed to develop mines in an orderly and efficient way.

Equipment - steam shovels, drills, wagons, trucks and machinery - had to be moved into the mines. Railroads had to be built so that ore could be moved out of the mines. Mining is a complicated process involving care in planning, organization and operations. As the major source of iron ore for a fast-developing nation, Minnesota's iron ranges reflected the growth of that nation. But growth is sometimes reversed, and as the Great Depression settled upon the nation, activity slackened in Minnesota's iron ore mines. Ony 250 million tons of iron ore were shipped during the 1930s.