Finntown 2018

Mesabi Is Magic – Discover The Range

In the far north of Minnesota, just below the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, bordering the Superior National Forest, is the greatest of the state’s four major iron ore deposits: the Mesabi.

Mesabi comes from a Native American word that is said to describe the vast glacier that once covered the area, a giant who laid upon the treasures of the earth for many years as he slept. Mesabi was also the name given to the constellation Orion by the indigenous people who lived in this resource-rich region.

In this article, we’re excited to share about the history and significance of this magical place, as well as some of our favorite attractions in the Mesabi Range.

Why is the Mesabi Range Significant?

The Mesabi Range is significant for several reasons. First and foremost, it is home to one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits. The Mesabi Range is also significant because of its unique geographical features. The range is dotted with numerous ponds and forests, creating a one-of-a-kind landscape. Let’s take a closer look.

Aurora Northern Lights VNice

The Formation of The Range: Sculpted by Nature and Industry

This land of the Mesabi Range has been shaped by nature and human effort. First, vast ice sheets scraped away topsoil, leaving behind exposed rocks and numerous lakes. Then came loggers in search of timber. Prospectors followed, seeking gold but discovering iron ore instead. Starting in the 1890s, ore extraction reshaped the landscape, and its use in steelmaking began to forge the nation.

Today, Mesabi is the crossroads of industry and nature, staking claim to woodlands, minelands, lakes, rivers, starry skies, Native legends, immigrant stories, foods, and pastimes that are almost uniquely “Mesabi.” 

.The History of The Ore Deposits

The vast iron ore deposit located in the northern part of Minnesota was discovered in 1866 by geologist H.W. Sargent. This discovery played a significant role in the development of the American steel industry. The first mine on the range, the Mountain Iron Mine, opened in 1890 and was followed by numerous other mines in the area. The Mesabi Range has been a key source of iron ore for over a century, supplying materials for everything from railroad tracks to battleships.

The Tom Rukavinia Memorial Bridge in Virginia spans a former mine pit, now filled with spring water. The bridge is 200 feet above the water, which in places is more than 400 feet deep.

What Attractions Does the Mesabi Range Offer?

Or maybe a better question would be, what attractions does the Mesabi Range NOT offer? There is so much to explore in this beautiful land.

Tour an active mine, ride a vintage trolley like the ones that connected the many towns of Mesabi, explore a mining ghost town, and sample, or even learn to cook traditional foods like sarma, potica, pasty or lefse. Hear the serenade of an accordion player and learn to dance a polka. View the childhood home of Bob Dylan and see the stage where he performed as a high school student. Tour America’s hockey mecca in Eveleth, home to many great players, or try your hand at another ice sport: curling.

This destination is loaded with American history, the history of scrappy, hard-working miners whose toil helped win two world wars. The Mesabi offers a unique touring experience on its own but also compliments a tour that includes historic ties to Ely, the North Shore of Lake Superior, and/or Duluth.

Exploring the Mesabi Range Mines

Exploring the Mesabi Range mines offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of iron ore mining in Minnesota. Here, you can delve into the depths of the earth and learn about the techniques and processes used to extract this valuable resource. The massive open pits and towering mining equipment provide a sense of the scale of operations that have shaped the landscape. Walking along the trails and viewing the remnants of old mining structures will give you a sense of the challenges faced by early miners. 

Popular Tourist Spots in the Mesabi Range Area

The Mesabi Range area in Minnesota is home to several popular tourist spots that attract visitors from all over the country. One of the most iconic spots is Lake Vermilion, known for its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches perfect for swimming and boating. Another must-visit destination is the Minnesota Discovery Center, where you can learn about the history of mining in the region. For a unique experience, take a guided tour of the Soudan Underground Mine State Park and explore the depths of the earth.

Outdoor Activities on the Mesabi Trail

Active learners will appreciate an opportunity to ride the Mesabi Trail. The paved trail covers over 150 miles, weaving past sweeping mine views, through forested areas, and alongside clear blue lakes. There are also great places for hiking, biking, bird watching, and even snowshoeing in the winter months. The Superior National Forest with its numerous hiking trails and picturesque scenery is a great place to start.

Wherever your Mesabi adventure takes you, from the rugged landscape to the starry skies and everywhere in between, you’ll come to understand why Mesabi is Magic.



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