Artifacts of the Vermilion Iron Range Industrial Boom
The Industrial Boom
Between the exploration and gold rush of 1865 and the closing of the Soudan Mine in 1962, the Vermilion Iron Range and the Tower area was host to major industry: large logging operations, lumber mills, farming around Cook and Soudan, brick works, a box factory, many successful mines, and many failed mines. The mines and the industry that grew around them have stories – some stories lasted a century, but some disappeared with little trace.
We see artifacts from the industrial boom at the turn of the 20th century around our city and may not know much about them. Many places are named for people whose stories we might not know. Many interesting people we didn’t know about lived, worked, or visited in the area; their stories should be told.
LakeVermilion.net wants to remember all of the artifacts: the people, places, and things that make our area special and unique. We will be researching many of the things that made Lake Vermilion and the communities around it what they are today, and archiving them to our best ability. We will strive to keep the information as accurate as possible; we will also update the information as we find more information or make corrections. If you have any information about any of the artifacts we present, please don’t be afraid to contact us at info*AT*lakevermilion.net and we’ll add helpful information!
We use publicly-available sources without pay walls whenever we can, so you can follow our research yourself. We will provide all references back to the original information. Here are some of the sources we use to research our area’s history. We will update these lists as we add more sources and documents.
- Google Maps: The basic map tool. Adding the satellite image layer can reveal features such as old roads and railways that have been abandoned – places that wouldn’t otherwise be mapped by Google’s cars. We’ve even pointed the map to Lake Vermilion for you!
- St. Louis County Land Explorer: A very nice tool that allows us to change its Base Map to use imagery taken between 1937 and 1941 – a very revealing slice of time for the industrial boom.
- Library of Congress: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Tower, MN: The Sanborn insurance company’s maps of industrial and commercial areas of cities, archived by the Library of Congress.
- Minnesota Historical Society: Digital Newspapers at MNHS: Searchable archives of digitized newspapers from all over the state.
- United States Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management: Documents concerning land patents and surveys.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Underground Mine Mapping – Maps: Maps of area underground mines.
- Minnesota Reflections: An Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Minnesota
- Minnesota Reflections: Oliver Iron Mining Company Mapbook, Mesabi and Vermilion Iron Ranges, Minnesota
- Bureau of Land Management: Original Survey by George Stuntz, completed 6/28/1880
- MN History Magazine: Some Vanished Settlements of the Arrowhead Country