Top 10 for ’20

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 FestBrewFest, 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!

 

 

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What to do in Winter

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!

 

The Great Gray Owl (GGO for short), winters in the Sax Zim Bog, and is a favorite among wildlife watchers

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. 

Winter make you stir crazy? Check out the free Virginia Heritage Museum and nearby Olcott Park Greenhouse! 

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!

View and download trail maps here. 

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Spotlight on our Cities: Eveleth

Hockey Greats statue in Hockey Plaza.

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.

One of two murals along Eveleth’s Grant Street.

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.

Attendees of the 2019 Spirit of Hospitality Awards enjoy the Eveleth Auditorium space.

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.

Leonidas Overlook in Eveleth is slated for a makeover in the coming years.

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.

Learn more about Eveleth and all the towns of the Mesabi, plus events and trails, and make plans to explore the area soon.

 

 

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All About Fall On the Mesabi

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

Take in fall colors and mine lake views on Minnesota Discovery Center’s 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

Superior National Forest as seen from the top of Giants Ridge ski hills in Biwabik.

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!

Happening October 5, 2019, at the Mountain Iron Community Center.

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.

 Go industrial

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

A couple hikes near Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

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

Find great places for lunch, treats and local brews on the Mesabi Cycling Trail.

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.

Just Ride

Skibo Vista just outside of Hoyt Lakes offers great views of the Superior National Forest.

Request or download our Ride Guide and chart your course for fall colors and adventures.

Still have questions? Contact us at info@ironrange.org or call 218-749-8161 and we’ll help you plan your fall fun on the Mesabi! 

 

 

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Spotlight on our Cities: Chisholm

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.

Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days parade always draws a crowd.

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.

Events and activities galore in Chisholm, MN!

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.

ATVs on a trail ride north of Chisholm.

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.

A crowd relaxes in the Chisholm Pocket Park while musicians perform.

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).

One of the great ways the Pocket Park is bringing people together !

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.

Kids Plus hosts a great 5K, the DMG Days Water Ski Show and much more.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Return of Mine View

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.

Hibbing Taconite’s mining operations, as seen from Hull Rust Mine View in 2017, moments prior to a blast.

A new location was soon identified, and over the course of the next two years, sitework was done to make the new viewpoint accessible.

Hull Rust MIne View overlooking Hibbing Taconite in July, 2018.

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.

Forterra is a company that makes concrete culverts, like the one shown here. This unique use of their product got the company onsite for a photoshoot.

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.

Andrew Lucia took this photo from inside one of the concrete culverts that frame views around the site.

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).

Looking to the east from Hull Rust Mine View in Hibbing.

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.

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A Trail Like No Other

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 […]

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Winter Wonders: Soudan Underground Mine

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.

Soudan Mine maintenance staff work to reconnect the wheels on the man-cage after it was cleaned and painted. Photo courtesy DNR Staff.

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 mine headframe and grounds in new-fallen snow. Photo courtesy DNR staff.

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.

Interpreter James Juip shines a light on hematite with quartz during a geology tour of the mine. Photo courtesy of the Timberjay Newspaper.

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. 

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Winter Wonders: Minnesota Discovery Center

Summer is surely the high season for many of our Mesabi attractions. Ever wonder what goes on at places like Minnesota Discovery Center in the winter? Luckily for all of us, “The Museum of the Iron Range” is open year-round, but of course the popular trolley ride can’t happen with three feet of snow on the ground!

Visit the Museum of the Iron Range any time!

Don’t worry! There’s plenty of other things to see and do at MDC in the winter! You’ll see award-winning exhibits, like “Blue-Collar  Battleground: The Iron Range Labor Story” and “The Emigrant Journey,” where you take an emigrant passport and follow their journey in their new home.

Blue-Collar Battleground received an award from the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums.

You might even get in on a Family Discovery Day event, where kids and caregivers get to learn, have fun, and most likely get a snack!

Museums are a great place to foster a love of learning!

If outdoor fun is on your agenda, rent snowshoes from MDC and explore their outdoor exhibits, or get in on a guided snowshoe hike every Thursday and Saturday. It’s a great way to experience winter!

Rent ‘shoes for just five bucks!

And what could be better than capping your MDC experience off with a tasty meal and maybe a little music? Visit the Rustic Pig, a Saturday-only onsite restaurant with intriguing menu items and fabulous decor.

Curry salmon from the Rustic Pig made an appearance on the February menu.

When exploring the Mesabi, don’t forget visit our year-round attractions, like Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm!

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Best Ideas for Fall Fun on the Mesabi

Superior National Forest at its finest!

Start out with something brand new to Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range: a ski lift ride to the top of the mountain at Giants Ridge. Take it all in then head back to the base for a bite and a sip at The Sleeping Giant or The Burnt Onion.

Get a whole different view when you walk 1.8 miles along the Mesabi Trail in Virginia and cross the state’s tallest bridge in Virginia. You’re standing 200 feet above the former Rouchleau Mine Pit, now a source of the city’s drinking water.

This is one cool bridge walk.

Learn more about mining and glimpse US Steel’s Minntac operations at Locomotive Park in Mountain Iron. Pop in to Mac’s Bar for a burger, or bring a bike to explore the paved Mesabi Trail, one of the state’s longest, and currently paved between Grand Rapids and Gilbert, MN.

 

Here’s comes the trolley!

A trip to the Mesabi isn’t complete without a stop at Minnesota Discovery Center, a sprawling indoor/outdoor museum offering fall color trolley rides through September on Thursdays and Saturdays. Bring the kids for mini-golf themed fun in between exhibit exploration.

Your evening entertainment should most definitely include Moonlight Escape Rooms in downtown Chisholm. Try the Harry Potter-themed “Muggles and Mayhem,” or the underwater adventure, “Trident” weekends from the end of September to the first weekend of November.

Catch “Dinosaurs” at the Paulucci Space Theater in Hibbing on October 19th and find plenty of other activities from craft projects to musical performances right here.

If it’s outdoor adventure you crave, Lookout Mountain at the Laurentian Divide has hiking and mountain bike trails, but the newest trails in the area are up at Giants Ridge, and give mountain bikers a lift-served gravity ride and a lot more.

Maybe motorized is your thing, in which case we have the state’s best Off-Highway Vehicle Park. Jeeps, motorcycles, side-by-sides and more are welcome here.

Find places to stay right here. Need more info? Email us! 

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