The Iron Range Tourism Bureau announces nearly $45,000 in grant awards for trail projects in St Louis County.
“We’re pleased to have a role in the development of trails in our region,” said Beth Pierce, executive director of the IRTB. “Trails are an important part of our visitor economy, outstanding amenities for everyone who lives here, and powerful recruiting tools for businesses.”
The grant was administered by the IRTB on behalf of the Northern St Louis County Trails Task Force, a group that includes representatives from user groups, land managers, private business and tourism. The TTF meets monthly and is open to anyone with an interest in trails.
“The Trails Task Force has proven invaluable to clubs looking to build or improve their trails,” said Bruce Beste, co-chair of the TTF, resort operator and co-founder of the Voyageur ATV Club. “It’s a place to have questions answered by land managers, learn from other trail clubs, and help move trail projects forward.”
The TTF Grant Program is funded through the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation’s Regional Trails Grant Program, and is intended to support projects of $10,000 or less. It differs from the IRR Regional Trails Grant in that the matching funds may include donated labor, materials, and equipment. The TTF program, which includes $50,000 in funding, will remain open until the funds are spent. An application can be obtained by contacting Pierce at email@example.com or 218-749-8161.
Iron Range Off Road Cyclists: $5,000 for improvements to the Laurentian Divide/Lookout Mountain Trails; $1,637 for signage at the Maple Hill mountain bike trails; and $4,845 for signage at Minnesota Discovery Center for the RedHead Mountain Bike Trails.
Mesabi Outdoor Adventures: $910 for McDavitt Township cross-country ski trail improvements; $2,950 for a gravel bike route mapping project; and $1,180 to groom and map trails at the Laurentian Divide.
Friends of Vermilion Country School/Howard Wagoner Trails Club: $4,917 to complete the Ancient Cedar Forest Trail in Tower.
City of Chisholm: $6,000 to pave a multi-use trail near the Minnesota Museum of Mining.
Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club: $7,810 to reroute a snowmobile trail from wetlands to non-wetlands, and make it multi-use.
Range Trail Committee: $1,000 to finish dirtwork on a Laurentian Trail re-route project.
Crane Lake Visitor and Tourism Bureau: $2,300 for trail mapping project
Ranger Snowmobile/ATV Club: $6,320 to finish the Round Creek trail re-route project.
The Iron Range Tourism Bureau is a nonprofit destination marketing organization serving the communities of Hibbing, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Chisholm, Gilbert, Biwabik, Embarrass, Eveleth, Virginia, Mountain Iron and Buhl.
The mission of the Northern St. Louis County Trails Task Force is to foster the development and long-term sustainability of quality recreational trails and facilities in Northern Saint Louis County that meet the needs of residents now and in the future through cooperation with public agencies and private clubs/organizations.
Read more about area trails here.
Welcome 2020! What are we jazzed about this year? Where do I begin? Here are our top ten Exciting Developments in Tourism (and in General) for the new year:
10. Mesabi Outdoor Adventures – What will they think of next?
This group of outdoor enthusiasts has started weekly bike rides, organized winter camping trips, purchased bikes and kayaks to loan out, searched out chaga troves and created a network of folks who want to meet new people, get outside, and practice their favorite or learn new ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Join them on a weekend or weeknight adventure!
9. The Return of the Fests: Brewfest, Honktoberfest and Pasty Fest – BrewFest, now in its third year at Olcott Park in Virginia has been a raging success, check it out in August! Honktoberfest, named for Biwabik’s famous moose, Honk, is another beer-themed event but in October. Looking forward to their second year. And Pasty Festival, well if you don’t know what a pasty is, you must stop and try one in October. And if you do know what they are, you know these are some of the best ever made.
8. Mesabi Trail – It’s SO CLOSE to being done, that is, paved from Grand Rapids to Ely. This year, work will be done by the Bruce Mine Headframe in Chisholm, Embarrass, and to our north. Make it your summer mission to walk or ride part of the trail!
7. Construction & RenovationProjects – Yes, construction. It’s going to happen, might as well embrace it! Hwy 53 in Virginia will be improved, and so will Hwy 37E in Gilbert, and 135 in Biwabik! Ground will be broken for the new Miner’s Memorial Building in Virginia, and improvements made at the historic Lyric Center for the Arts. Changes are likely at the Irongate Mall in Hibbing, and who knows what else is going to be built, modified or even torn down. Change is good!
6. Mines and Pines Revisited – back for a second year, this fine arts and music festival was a shining success in 2019, and looking forward to another great event for artists, art and music lovers, local musicians and beer tent enthusiasts. Trying new days of Friday and Saturday will be an interesting experiment. To apply as an artist or learn more about the event, visit hibbingminesandpines.org
6. Leonidas Overlook – This popular and peaceful viewpoint in Eveleth is going to get a nice makeover, including new interpretive signs to educate our neighbors and guests alike about mining and our amazing, ever-changing landscape.
5. The re-opening of Rustic Pig and new exhibit, We Are Water, at Minnesota Discovery Center – very excited to see chef Mitch Kerfeld back at MDC running the restaurant. They will also offer a food truck they’ve tentatively dubbed the Piglet. We Are Water is a traveling Minnesota Humanities Center exhibit, with a local spin. Looking forward to water-themed events and activities around this!
4. ATV Trails – The QC ATV Club continues to plan punching north to connect with the Voyageur ATV Trails up north, and east to hook up with the Ranger Trails in Biwabik, while Northern Traxx is working on a trail between Hibbing and Chisholm. Exciting stuff for motorized riders!
3. All the Arts – Our population of around 45,000 supports the arts in so many ways! Join us in taking pride in all that the area offers, including Mesabi Musical Theater, Northern Stage Works and Small Parts Players, the exhibits and programs at the Lyric Center for the Arts, Mesabi Symphony Orchestra, Arrowhead and Mesaba Concert Associations, many local choral groups, the awesome musicians doing covers and original music, and the annual Northern Lights Music Festival to name a few. Take note, and take in a performance or two this year.
2. Hull Rust Mine View – The new site overlooks Hibbing Taconite and the city of Hibbing from a stunning viewpoint. We’re hoping they receive legislative bonding money to finish putting permanent buildings. New this year is a 240-ton production truck. A must-see!
1.Redhead Bike Trails – This is big, people. If you want to know how recreation can bring about positive change, talk to someone from Crosby, MN. Or read this story. These trails at Minnesota Discovery Center (15 miles built to date with a spring opening on the horizon) are not just cool or amazing. They’re epic. Keep your eye on this, and be sure to welcome the influx of mountain bikers who will be clamoring for this park, along with the very different trails at Giants Ridge. Want updates on Redhead’s progress? Sign up here.
Bonus: IronRange.org new website this may be only a big deal to, well, us. But the new site will better showcase all the great things we have to see and do on the Mesabi, and that’s a great thing for everyone!
On the Mesabi, we know winter is meant to be enjoyed from the inside and the outdoors! Here’s a few ideas to get your winter off to a great start.
Make your way to Giants Ridge There’s tubing, boarding, alpine ski and more. There’s live music, great food and special events. The slopes open Nov 23. What are you waiting for?
Don’t know how to ski? This winter, take lessons at the Giants Ridge Ski School and get out there!
Take a Hike, a Nature Hike! The Sax-Zim Bog is located just south of Hibbing and is home to a wide array of boreal birds and owls, as well as interesting flora and other animals. Explore this wild place with a guide. You never know what you might learn, or see!
Hang Out With the Like-Minded Mesabi Outdoor Adventures hosts group hikes, cycling and other fun activities for anyone who is interested on trail systems across the region, all year round. Hook up with them if you like to explore with others.
Let us Entertain You Our calendar of events is filling up more and more each day. Find performances by area musicians, local community bands, the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra, traveling performers and more. You’ll also find art classes, guided snowshoe treks, museum activities and more.
Pick a Trail, Any Trail Access more than 2,000 miles of snowmobile trails from the Mesabi Iron Range. If you’ve got the machine, we’ve got the trails. Get maps, lodging deals and more and plan your winter getaway.
Make Tracks Your Own Way The Mesabi is home to fatbike trails, nordic ski trails, snowshoe trails and even curling (which isn’t a trail but it’s definitely a winter sport!) Get on the snow, the ice or whatever fits your fancy this winter. We’re waiting for you!
If you don’t think ‘hockeytown’ when you think of Eveleth, maybe it’s time you visited! Over the summer, a second statue of a hockey great was installed at Hockey Plaza on Grant Ave A likeness of “Mr. Zero,” Frank Brimsek, joined the John Mariucci statue at the base of the largest free standing hockey stick and puck in America, surrounded by displays of hockey history, lore and legend. All this, across from a mural depicting kids playing pond hockey. You should go!
Make a stop at the US Hockey Hall of Fame Museum while you’re there (open Fri-Sun between Memorial Day and Labor Day), and learn everything you ever wanted to know about the sport. Both historically and particularly in recent years under the city staff and elected officials’ leadership, Eveleth has invested time and money into owning the hockeytown title, and they deserve it.
But there are a few other things happening in Eveleth that you might not know about, and some you probably do know about, like the famous Thunder Over Eveleth Fourth of July celebration, long championed by local businesses. Just weeks ago, a second mural was unveiled to celebrate “A Proud Past, A Brighter Future,” with local businessman and Eveleth Area Community Foundation chair Jonathon Hoel leading its dedication.
The Eveleth Elks hosts an annual car show and corn feed that packs the town. Are you sensing a theme? In small towns, small businesses and their owners have a huge role in the communities’ aesthetics, pride, passion and success. With their own longtime owners stepping up when asked with unfailing generosity, the Eveleth IGA, Jon’s Drug and Margie’s Roosevelt Bar are pure Eveleth. This tightknit and tireless group can take credit for a lot of the great things happening in Eveleth, but not when it comes to a different type of “artwork” that’s been popping up around town.
Eveleth Police Chief Tim Koivunen helped lead an effort to make the town ATV-friendly, including a stellar sign project that shows ATVs how to navigate the city, and promotes businesses and points of interest at the same time. Hopefully other cities will follow suit!
If the ATV signage shows a town with an eye toward the future, there is respect for the past that is deeper and broader than hockey heritage. If you’ve not been to the restored Eveleth Auditorium, hopefully you’ll have a chance to see it sometime. With full-on city support, the circa 1912 building underwent a transformation, starting in 2012, and is now a wonderful community gathering place.
The Eveleth Heritage Society is most certainly a driving force in curating and celebrating Eveleth history, with leaders there helping provide a wonderful website and online resource, as well as a Facebook presence where posts generate dozens if not hundreds of engagements and draw attention to the city’s history and legacy.
So what’s in store for Eveleth’s future? A beautification landscaping project near and around the Hwy 53/37 East intersection will be the perfect entryway for the fabulously renovated restaurants The Rink Boomtown Woodfire Brewery, as well as the expanded/remodeled Five Seasons Sports and Lundgren Motors. Future enhancements at the Leonidas Overlook will help share even more local and regional history and educate visitors about mining today.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love fall? Make the most of this glorious season by exploring Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range! Here are some of our favorite autumn activities to get your started:
Ride the Trolley
Travel on a trolley, the way miners and their families used to on the Range! This one departs from Minnesota Discovery Center’s trolley station on Thursdays at 3 and 5 p.m., and Saturdays 1 and 3 p.m. through October (weather permitting). If you’d rather be spooked, stick around for a Museum Flashlight Tour!
Have fun on the farm
The Eli Wirtanen Farm Fall Fest is a great way to get kids outside and learning where our food comes from and how early farmers used to live. Looking for other fall events? Click here for our calendar.
Reach the summit
Weekends through October 20, make a date to ride the ski lift at Giants Ridge (or hike, if you prefer!) and take in some magical views of the Superior National Forest. Don’t miss out on their dinner-and-a-view deal!
Have a pasty!
The first annual Pasty Festival will include music, games, brews and the indomitable pasty, a hand pie filled with meat, potatoes, carrots and rutabega. We’ll also have a vegetarian version, and a contest for best pasty. Learn more and pre-purchase your pasty meal for $10 here.
240-ton production trucks pass each other in a Minnesota iron mine.
Hull Rust Mine View in Hibbing offers 360-views of an active mine, nearby towns and the Superior National Forest. Visit daily through September, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and chat with retired miners and other volunteers.
Soak it all in
Safe but secluded hiking trails mean you can experience nature without ever getting too far afield. Try the trails at Carey Lake in Hibbing, for example, or the Laurentian Divide near Virginia. There are a number of family friendly trails in the area that will show you the beauty of the region.
Save Room for a Snack
There are plenty of great places to eat on the Mesabi! Here are a few: The Hive in Aurora, the Burnt Onion in Biwabik, or the Whistling Bird in Gilbert; Kunnari’s Kitchen and Natural Harvest Foods Co-op in Virginia, Black Bear Bakery in Chisholm, and Boomtown Woodfire Grill and Brewery in Hibbing.
Request or download our Ride Guide and chart your course for fall colors and adventures.
Still have questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 218-749-8161 and we’ll help you plan your fall fun on the Mesabi!
Editor’s Note: Spotlight on our Cities is a monthly sub-blog that coincides with a HomeTown Focus series, “Focus on Community.”
Chisholm is literally an “event-full” lil’ town. For a city with a population of just under 5,000, it has to have one of the highest community events-per-capita in the state. But events aren’t the only thing Chisholm has going for it. A lovely setting, great people, and awesome partnerships are helping make things happen all over town.
The Chisholm Area Chamber of Commerce does a great job developing and running events, like the Chilly Open, Moonlight Escape Rooms, DMG Days, the Holiday Expo and more. It helps that they have some wonderful community partners to help maximize opportunities for all ages.
Northern Traxx ATV Club is a huge asset for the community. They’ve worked hard to build a 16-mile ATV trail and promote club rides and youth training classes.
The city is also fortunate to have the Downtown Revitalization Project bringing fresh ideas and a touch of culture to Chisholm’s iconic Lake Street.
This group created a historic walking tour, helped enhance Kiwanis Park near the Longyear Lake shore, and developed a pocket park further up the street, complete with artwork and programming!
Their latest project will bring a beautiful mural to Lake Street.
The Chisholm Beautification Association is active as well, planting trees, painting houses and supporting the Bruce Mine Headframe Park (more on that below).
Throughout the year, the Chisholm Kiwanis actively sponsor events, like Kids Days, the annual ice-fishing contest, and Holly Jolly. And the city is very fortunate to have the Chisholm Community Foundation and Chisholm Kids Plus around to host and sponsor a wide range of activities and projects.
And let’s not forget that Chisholm has not one, but two amazing museums.
Both of these must-stop locations offer hands-on exhibits for kids and special activities like monthly Family Discovery Days at Minnesota Discovery Center and the annual Iron Pour at the Museum of Mining.
Best of all, no one in Chisholm is standing around waiting for things to happen. New developments include the Redhead Regional Mountain Bike Park at Minnesota Discovery Center, and an interpretive site at Bruce Mine Headframe, along the Mesabi Trail.
This project celebrates mining history and enhances a unique feature along the Mesabi Trail.
With so many things happening all year round in Chisholm, it’s no wonder that you can find great places to eat on Lake Street. From Snickers and Choppy’s to Jim’s Sports Club and the legendary Valentini’s – and don’t forget Black Bear Bakery – there’s a lot of fun and some of the best food on the Range waiting for visitors and locals alike.
So get out there! See what happens when a community comes together with the support of a great City Council, city staff and local leaders to make an awesome town even better.
This summer, Hull Rust Mine View makes a comeback. The iron ore mine overlook located in “Old North Hibbing” closed in October of 2017 and mining operations moved in.
A new location was soon identified, and over the course of the next two years, sitework was done to make the new viewpoint accessible.
Andrew Lucia, who grew up in Hibbing, is a designer, artist and academic working with the City of Hibbing to infuse the new site with drama and optimal functionality.
Today, mining equipment has been moved onsite, including a 38-yard shovel bucket donated by Komatsu Mining Corp. Eventually, a new visitor center, in the style of the culverts, will be added to the site.
In the meantime, the Hibbing Tourist Center Seniors will staff the location daily from a temporary building.
The views don’t stop with mining. See up to 40 miles in every direction atop this “overburden” pile (earth moved in mining but not used to make taconite).
After a lot of hard work by the City of Hibbing, support from Hibbing Taconite, and a great deal of patience from visitors hoping to glimpse where steel gets its start and where 80 percent of the country’s taconite comes from, the site is set to reopen on May 25, 2019.
Travel from the Mississippi River to the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Bicycle or hike through the Superior National Forest and over the Laurentian Continental Divide. Imagine a day of sunshine and a path to explore nature and the 28 communities nestled along the way. The Mesabi Trail is one of Minnesota’s […]
Editor’s Note: This series, “Winter Wonders” looks at what some of our Mesabi attractions are doing during the winter. You can read the previous blog about Minnesota Discovery Center here. The Soudan Mine entry is courtesy of guest blogger James Pointer, Interpretive Supervisor, DNR Parks and Trails.
For some winter is a time to ski, snowmobile, or just have fun making snow angels. At the mine it is time to prepare for our next big tour season. Our maintenance staff spend the time painting and repairing the man-cages, deep cleaning and waxing the floors of the visitor center, and adjusting the tour equipment.
This winter I have been busy developing and adjusting the new tours we plan to offer this summer. I choose the days of the polar vortex to spend underground, which was a wise plan. As schools and postal offices closed due to the cold weather, I was able to go underground. This resulted in a 91 degree Fahrenheit difference in temperatures from the surface (-40 F) to the 27th level (51F).
The trips underground let me determine what needed to be done to prepare our two new tours. Given the success of our walking drift tour this past fall, we have found a way to offer it every Wednesday morning in the summer and again in the afternoon this fall. We have also had many requests for tours of the physics lab since its closure two years ago. We are developing a new science tour that will take visitors into the lab to learn about the former experiments, but it will also include information on the ground breaking research that UMN is conducting on the bacteria found in the mine’s ground water.
Enjoy the rest of your winter activities while you begin making plans to visit the mine this summer. Whether you take the traditional mine tour or one of our new tours, you are sure to have a great adventure.
For information about Mesabi Iron Range area attractions, visit www.ironrange.org.