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Iron Man: 1941

Iron Man: 1941

August 1941. "One end of the Hull-Rust-Mahoning pit, largest open pit iron mine in the world, near Hibbing, Minnesota. The pit is two and a half miles long, three quarters of a mile wide and about four hundred feet deep." Medium format safety negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


The Beholder

Without iron ore, there would have been no steel. Without steel, how would America look today?

The mining boom left behind beautiful schools, Carnegie libraries and other public buildings not typically seen in such small towns.

Not in the least, three generations of my male ancestors worked in or for the mines. They built families, and their houses too.

As far as aesthetics go, one could also argue the vibrant rust red of the ore, the deep blue of the Northern sky and the bright green of the brush make for a beautiful scene.

The mining company may have scarred the land

But they built a High School beyond belief

Unique hand-molded ceilings in the foyer welcome visitors and accent the breathtaking auditorium designed after the Capitol Theatre in New York City. Cut-glass chandeliers of crystal, imported from Belgium, light the 1800-velvet seat grand auditorium. The cost of each chandelier in 1920 was $15,000 and today they are insured for $250,000 each. The auditorium boasts a magnificent Barton pipe organ, one of only two that still exist in the United States. Containing over 1900 pipes, the organ can play any orchestra instrument except the violin. Bob Dylan and Kevin McHale attended school here.

It’s no wonder.

Why Bobby Zimmerman moved to New York.


Mother Nature left the Grand Canyon. That's quite a gash in the earth.

One might think of retrieving iron as part of building the nation, and this valley as evidence of hard work and determination.

Oh, well. Fashionability and all that, eh?

Could you step back...

Just a little further... a little further... just a little mo... uhh, never mind.

Grand Canyon of the North

We visited Hibbing several years ago, searching for where my wife's grandparents had lived. We found an old town map in the library, and headed out to take a look. We came to the end of a street. The town ended at the edge of a huge canyon, several times bigger than the information posted with the photo. There are hills and small mountains all around the area where they dumped the mine tailings (rock and dirt not good for anything). It is a profound statement to man scarring the earth. Right or wrong it is there for all to see.

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