Minnesota Museum of Mining

701 W. Lake St., Chisholm, Minnesota When Minnesotans speak of “the range,” they aren’t referring to a string of mountains

Minnesota Museum of Mining, Minnesota
A locomotive in use until the 1950s was the first piece of mining equipment donated to the museum, which opened in 1954.

701 W. Lake St., Chisholm, Minnesota

When Minnesotans speak of “the range,” they aren’t referring to a string of mountains or to vast grasslands; they are talking about the Mesabi, Vermilion, and Cuyuna–some of the richest iron-ore ranges in the United States. Located in the heart of this area is a sprawling museum that rewards visitors with a vivid sense of the sheer magnitude and ruggedness of iron mining.

Fascinating exhibits of antique miners equipment, old photographs, and models of ore-processing operations are just the beginning. On the museum grounds visitors can tour a variety of heavy mining machines. One of these is a piercing machine that uses a high-velocity 5,000-degree flame to drill through rock. Dominating the area like some great mechanical dinosaur is a 1910 Atlantic steam shovel weighing 110 tons. But perhaps the awesome scale of iron mining is made clearest in a simple exhibit of ore truck tires, some 10 feet in diameter and weighing nearly three tons, each more costly than today’s average automobile.

The most moving display is a life-size underground replica of a 150-foot turn-of-the-century mine drift. Visitors descend a short stairway to enter the miners daily world, where well-worn picks and drills, electric pit-mule carts, water pumps, columns of carefully placed support timbers, and wire-covered rescue stretchers make it easy to imagine the courage and determination of these early diggers of ore.

In the museum is a diorama of railroading by world-famous naturalist and artist Francis Lee Jaques.

Open daily early May–Sept. Admission charged.

www.exploreminnesota.com

(218) 254-5543

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest