Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Iron Ore Mines of Hibbing, MN

These three pics are actually of the pit in Virginia the day before, after eating our pizza at Pizza Hut.
Virginia is a city in Saint Louis CountyMinnesota, on the Mesabi Iron Range. The population was 8,712 at the 2010 census.  According to a water tower in the middle of town, the city's nickname is the "Queen City", or "Queen City of the North".
Hibbing is a city in Saint Louis CountyMinnesota. The population was 16,361 at the 2010 census. The city was built on the rich iron ore of the Mesabi Iron Range. At the edge of town is the largest open-pit iron mine in the world, the Hull–Rust–Mahoning Open Pit Iron Mine.  
This pit is so large, it is nearly impossible to gain a vantage point to shoot a picture that truly expresses the length, breadth and depth of this enormous pit.  It is almost four miles long, one mile wide, and 1100 feet deep.  Some of these pics shows the enormous trucks hauling freshly blasted ore to the smelter furnace to make rich pellets for shipping off to the steel mills.
From Wiki:  The Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine in Hibbing is one of the largest open pit iron mines in the world, with a 1.5 by 3.5 mile footprint and depths up to 600 feet. (old data)  The mine, located in the Mesabi Range, supplied as much as one-fourth of all the iron ore mined in the United States during its peak production during World War I and World War II.
It was briskly windy this day, and we had to put on an extra layer.  There was a little visitor center with a viewing window right on the edge of the southern rim, where we took most all of our pics.
Just look at the size of this baby (the truck please).  Isn't she beautiful? (the lady please)
And the giant Detroit Diesel above is what powers this behemoth.  I think it hauls 30 tons.
This bit of trivia we found most intriguing while there in the visitor center and thought I'd share it with you, from Wiki:  This area of the Mesabi Range was explored in 1893–1894, shortly after the Mountain Iron mine was established in 1892. The early development was as an underground mine, but open pit mining soon proved to be a better choice because of the shallow nature of the ore deposits. The many smaller open pit mines developed in the area soon merged into one large mine. The growth of the mine even resulted in the town of Hibbing being relocated to accommodate expansion. The move started in 1919 and took two years to complete at a cost of $16,000,000. 185 houses and 20 businesses were moved, and some of the larger buildings had to be cut in half for the move. Only a few uninhabited remnants of the original townsite are left near an observational lookout at the edge of the mine, where we were.

This truly was a hard-working blue-collar town, and to this day, is still that way.  
I am zoomed out 300mm to catch the large truck a mile away.
We were lucky in that the morning we were to leave, Friday, Sept 12, they had a scheduled blast.  So we decided to stick around and see what the hubbub was all about.  
Now mind you, this basting took place about a mile away, over on the other side of this gi-normous pit and it took about three seconds for the sound to reach us.  It was kind of a muffled roar as it was a string of continuous dynamite blasts, all computer controlled.
We both were shooting, Nancy with her 30x Sony and me with my 300mm Nikon.  I must admit:  Nancy had the best pics, the two below.  I was impressed.  They blast just about every 8-10 days.
Just North of Hibbing, on our way to Ely the day before, we caught this monument, dedicated to people who made the Iron Range a part of the local heritage.  The range is some 90 miles long and several miles wide in upper MN.  The below granite plaque was hard to read as the black embedded ink had worn off and glare didn't help either.
Roger Maris is from this town as well.  Who's he you might ask?  He's the man who first broke Babe Ruth's home run record with 61 home runs way back in 1961, ie, 61 in '61.  Some other notables from this small town were Bob Dylan, Kevin McHale (Boston Celtic great), Robert Mondavi the wine mogul (from Hibbing?, who would've thought that), Gary Puckett (and the Union Gap Band) and a host of other fairly prominent people.  Wow, and from such a small town.  I guess the cold long winters forced them inside to study more.  :-)
Well, that just about does it for our visit to Hibbing, MN and our furthest location North on this our fall of 2014 journey, Ely, MN being that place.  So, till the next time, RVing Beach Bums signing off.  This blog was written & published from our home in Virginia Beach.

International Wolf Center, Ely, MN

We didn't make it all the way to Hibbing, Minnesota from Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in one day.  We could have, but we didn't want to drive for two hours or so in a severe rain storm.  So we stopped at the Walmart in Superior, WI, just on the other side of the Duluth River from Duluth, MN on Tues, Sept 9.  These two pics were from the Walmart parking lot in Hibbing, Wednesday evening, Sept 10.  Oh, and we were welcomed to our first nights of the fall of 30 degree temps.  Nancy voted for turning left and heading SOUTH for warmer temps.  Sorry for the urbanization in the photos, but heh, ya gotta take what you can where ever you happen to be.
Thursday morning and we were off to Ely, MN to the International Wolf Center.  It was a bright, sunny and a little warmer day, so we opted to take the 70 mile jaunt up the four lane highway 169 and 53, through Virginia, MN and back on 169 and on into Ely, MN.
From Wiki:  Ely (elee) is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota. The population was 3,460 at the 2010 census.  It is located on the Vermilion Iron Range, and is historically home to several iron ore mines. Today the city of Ely is best known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Boundary Waters National Park); the International Wolf Center, and the North American Bear Center. The main street of Ely is lined with outfitters, outdoor clothing stores, and restaurants. State Highway 1 (MN 1), State Highway 169 (MN 169) and County Road 21 (Central Avenue) are the main routes into Ely.
We obviously opted for the wolf center, but not the bear center.  And because we don't have kayaks or canoes, we never made it up to the national park, a few more miles up towards International Falls.
We listened to a couple of interesting ranger talks on the wolves at the center, and hung around for a few hours and took a lot of photos.  I have always been fascinated, as most folks are, with the wolves of North America, and their struggle to coexist with people through the last two hundred years.  Their plight has been well documented in the chronicles of our history.
From Wiki:  The International Wolf Center is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to educating people about wolves. The organization is committed to advancing the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands, and the human role in their future.  Founded in 1985 by a group of biologists led by world-renowned wolf biologist Dr. L. David Mech, the Center opened in June 1993. The Center’s 17,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is located in Ely, Minnesota (USA) and features Gray wolves viewable through large windows that allow visitors to watch the ambassador wolves communicate, play, hunt and eat.
Unfortunately, they weren't being fed when we were there.  And there's a pretty good reason we missed that:  They are only fed once a week, and it is always venison.  We learned the names of all seven wolves currently in captivity there, with one, the old timer retired in a separate area.
Their eyes are almost entrancing to look into.  Sometimes they look so curiously devious, yet at other times they look so cautiously friendly.
Oops, I mean, poops!  Shame on me.
Mysterious eyes.  "Look deep into my eyes and I'll tell you an old backwoods tale".  Gotta stretch 'em out now & then...get them kinks out...
"I'm so bored".   "Me too".
Above is the current Alpha male.  The dark grey one is the alpha female, but she is always in submission to the Alpha male.  There is a distinctive pecking order among the pack, and they all know their place.
I never saw any of the other wolves get in the Alpha's face or even look at him for more than a second or two.  Interesting!  I guess he's a "lone wolf".  Sorry, couldn't resist.
It was a nice moment or two to watch them all have a little raucous fun, as only canines can have I guess.  Even the Alpha seemed to want to get a jab or two in as well.  Even in the wild they seem to enjoy this sort of playful-dominance, who's who in the pecking order.
Above, the Alpha glares at the gathering of the playful bunch as if to say, "I'm watching you all, so behave yourselves".
Well, that just about wraps up our visit to the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN.  We enjoyed the time there and would do it again if we ever make it back up this way.  On the way back, we stopped in Virginia for a Pizza at Pizza Hut, and stopped by an old iron ore pit mine.  But more on that in our next blog.  So, till then, RVing Beach Bums signing off.  This blog was written & published from our home on Nov 6.