"Canisteo iron ore concentrate is a well-known trade name in many of the large steel plants of the East, as it is the Canisteo mine which pioneered concentration of iron ore on the Mesabi iron range on a commercial scale."
Skillings' Mining Review, Vol. 29, No. 28, Nov. 2, 1940
The historic Canisteo mining district lies within the far western end of the Mesabi, running a length of nearly 10 miles beginning near Grand Rapids and moving northeast towards the town of Holman. I've covered this region in two other posts - the first on the Trout Lake Concentrator, and another on the Hunner Concentrating Plant. The Canisteo District was home to 10 beneficiation plants which operated for nearly 70 years, from 1907 to the early 1980s. All of these facilities now exist as ghosts on the landscape, visibly absent yet environmentally persistent. The former location of the Canisteo Washing Plant is submerged within the flooded cavity of the Canisteo Mine, where largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, bluegill and cisco now swim over the roadbeds where 15-ton dump trucks used to busily transport ore from mine to mill.
Here's a first draft of a time series map we've created exploring natural resource use within iron ore processing plants in the Lake Superior District. This video is showing the amount of water used in these plants to process low-grade ores. Taconite, which required additional water for the pelletizing process, comes into play around 1960, resulting in dramatic increases in the scale of water use. Calculating the amount of water required was factored by averaging reported water use at these plants over time, with the more recent plants, such as the taconite ones, providing more concrete data.
Let me know if you have any suggestions!
"This installation will do more than the old type of installation did, and at less cost..."
-Earl Hunner, "Recent Developments in Open-pit Mining on the Mesabi Range"
Keewatin, MN is located at the far eastern extent of Itasca County, at the juncture of Itasca and St. Louis Counties in Northern Minnesota. The Mesabi Range is bifurcated politically, but also geologically, as the western end of the Mesabi, those ore bodies within Itasca County, tend to be heavy in silica and light in iron, and were known historically as western Mesabi washable ore.
During the 1929-1930 mining season, the M.A. Hanna Co. began stripping the overburden encasing its new Mesabi Chief Mine, located just west of Keewatin, and drawing plans for the construction of a washing plant located south of the mine itself.
John Baeten holds a PhD in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology from Michigan Technological University. His research aims to contextualize the environmental legacies of industrialization as meaningful cultural heritage.