"The North Uno washing plant, built with an eye to moving when the ore is exhausted, does a good job on the ore from the mine."
-E.S. Tillinghast, Mining World, 1948.
The historic mining community of Leetonia, MN is located in the eastern section of the Mesabi Iron Range, roughly 3 miles west of Hibbing, MN and 1 mile south of the massive Hull-Rust-Mahoning Pit. Shaped like an upside down "L", the community of Leetonia is laid out in an orderly grid with five streets running north-south, and five streets running east-west. The streets running north-south follow a numerical naming convention, while the names of the east-west streets bear the names of former mines, such as Morton, Dale, and Kerr - unintentional memorials to a handful of ghost mines consumed by the nation's growing demand for taconite. Both the Dale and the Kerr produced low-grade washable ore, material that was treated for a handful of years at one of the more notable mobile beneficiation plants in the Mesabi, the North Uno washing plant.
"In essence, the entire plant has the flexibility
of a laboratory."
(R.L. Burns, "Custom Milling Mesabi Iron Ores", in Mining World, July 1953, pp. 43)
Located at the southwestern corner of the intersection of Grant Ave. and Monroe St. in Eveleth, MN, stands the world's largest free-standing hockey stick (and puck) - over 100 ft. in length and weighing in at 5 tons (the largest hockey stick is actually in Canada and is nearly twice as long as the monument in Eveleth). Dubbed by locals as the "Stick", the landmark was first dedicated by the city of Eveleth in 1995, and after seven years of harsh northern Minnesota winters the "Stick's" aspen body began to deteriorate, leading to the erection of a new "Big Stick" (measurements above) in 2002.
The "Big Stick" and the associated US Hockey Hall of Fame serve as tourist attractions for the community of Eveleth, designated as "The Capital of American Hockey" - but Eveleth's contemporary hockey heritage owes much to its industrial past and the large open pit mines and processing plants that fueled the city's cultural and environmental landscape for nearly a century.
Located in the far eastern extent of the Mesabi Range - a region known more for its rich supply of direct shipping ore and taconite deposits than for low-grade washable ore - the community of Eveleth was also home to the Mesabi's first custom beneficiation plant - The Coons-Pacific Iron Ore Concentrator - a product of savvy engineering and corporate foresight.
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.