Iron Ranges of Minnesota, 1909

Itasca County towns of Nashwauk, Marble, and Calumet
Nashwauk’s new (as of 1909) school cost $60,000. Images courtesy of the Virginia Area Historical Society.

Nashwauk’s new (as of 1909) school cost $60,000. Images courtesy of the Virginia Area Historical Society.

Village of Nashwauk

This village was founded in 1902 by the Nashwauk Townsite Company and enjoyed a rapid growth for a time, followed by the period of quiet which usually follows the booming of a new town. The present season has witnessed a wonderful revival of business activity and the place is thoroughly established as one of the permanent communities of the range. The situation is an advantageous one in the eastern part of Itasca County, about midway between Grand Rapids and Hibbing. Transportation is afforded by a spur from Hibbing of the Great Northern Railway which did not install a regular train service, however, until about one year after settlement began in the village. This line is now being extended to Grand Rapids, and within the next few months will give Nashwauk direct communication with all points on the system, including Virginia and other range towns. The present population is 1,200, and the number is increasing at a rapid rate.

There are four active mines in this district, and exploration is being vigorously prosecuted in the vicinity which will doubtless culminate in the opening of other propositions. All the mines in operation are controlled by independent companies. The Hawkins mine is described at some length on the next page; the La Rue, controlled by the Pittsburg Iron Ore Company, has been operated for the most part by means of a shaft but an extensive stripping contract is now in progress; the Crosby is an underground mine operated by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company and the Pearson is an underground proposition recently opened by A. P. Silliman.

The Ollila Hotel in Nashwauk was completed in 1909 at a cost of $45,000.

The Ollila Hotel in Nashwauk was completed in 1909 at a cost of $45,000.

The village owns its water works system, built in 1906 at a cost of $25,000, and its electric light plant which cost $12,000. The water is pumped from a well 150 feet deep and stored in an elevated tank which gives adequate pressure. The electric dynamos are operated by the same boilers as the pumping engine. An extensive sewer system is now being constructed at an expense of $25,000. The village is proud of its Volunteer Fire Department which has many times proved its worth and is equipped with plenty of hose to meet all emergencies.

Greenway Town Hall in Marble.

Greenway Town Hall in Marble.

The assessed valuation of property in the village is $1,608,000 while that of the Town of Nashwauk amounts to $5,850,500. Among the public improvements made this season is the new brick school building erected at a cost of $60,000. Seven teachers are employed in the village. This district (No. 9) includes the village of Keewatin in Nashwauk township, where a new school house was built last year and three teachers are employed. The property of the district is assessed at $5,875,000. A brick, fireproof jail was also built this year, with male and female departments, according to plans furnished by the state board of control.

Nashwauk supports two churches and a number of fraternal organizations. Every line of retail business is well represented and the people are decidedly loyal to the place welcoming any worthy citizens who desire to locate here. A number of the pioneers who walked or drove into town when the place was a wilderness have remained through prosperous and dull times and are proud of the fact. Among this number may be mentioned Dr. Jno. [sic.] L. Shellman, Paul Tvedt, the postmaster, Henry Hogan, village president, Judge Cram, Larry O’Brien, C. Latvala, Jas. Hughes, Hugh Riley, W. A. Gordon, Ross Dodson and Jno. Anderson, who conducted the first hotel in a tent and brought the first cow to town, an important event at the time.

The Calumet post office.

The Calumet post office.

Hawkins Mine

An industrial enterprise which has been one of the main sources of income to the village of Nashwauk from its inception is the Hawkins mine now operated by the Wisconsin Steel Company.

This property was originally explored in the year 1900 by the Itasca Mining Company of which Senator E. B. Hawkins, O. D. Kinney and Geo. H. Crosby were the moving spirits, and the mine was christened in honor of the first named gentleman. After proving the existence of a valuable mine, this company leased the property to the Deering Harvester Company, which sunk a shaft and began the shipment of ore in 1902 and about 100,000 tons were taken out by this process. Following the merging of the Deering Harvester Company in the International Harvester Company, the control of the property passed to the latter corporation and it has since been operated by the Wisconsin Steel Company which is the mining arm of that great organization.

Stripping operations were commenced on an extensive scale in 1903 and the work has been in progress each season since. Approximately 2,500,000 yards of overburden have been removed, a portion of the ore body being uncovered each year in advance of the mining work. The excavation is now over one-half mile in length. Two steam shovels are kept busy loading ore through the shipping season and employed in stripping through the winter. In this matter an average force of 150 men are given steady employment throughout the year there being but little variation in the number.

The annual production of the Hawkins mine runs from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 tons of iron ore which is shipped to Chicago and consumed in the furnaces of the Wisconsin Steel Company. This and the Agnew are the only mines operated by that great corporation on the Mesaba range and they are ranked among the most important independent mines in the state of Minnesota.

Nashwauk State Bank

The rapid development of commercial enterprises at this place led to an acute realization of the need of better facilities for the ready transaction of business and caused the organization of the Nashwauk State Bank in 1903 with a capitalization of $10,000. The institution has prospered under capable management and now carries deposits in excess of $40,000 while the total resources and liabilities approximate $125,000. All branches of the banking business are carried on and every reasonable accommodation extended to business men.

The insurance department represents a number of the most reliable companies in Europe and America and steamship tickets are sold to all ports in the world, a considerable volume of business being done in this line as well as in foreign exchange. These features are appreciated by the mixed population comprised among the inhabitants of this and other range cities. The conservative policy which has been pursued by this institution has won and retained the confidence of all the people of this section whose stability and integrity it amply reflects.

The bank occupies a two-story building 32 by 40 feet, the main floor being utilized as offices, while the second floor is occupied as a dwelling. It occupies one of the most conspicuous corners in the business portion of the town. The officers of the bank are: S. R. Kirby, president; John A. Redfern, vice-president and John T. Ring, cashier. These gentlemen have long been identified with financial institutions of the range and are well known to most of the patrons of this establishment.

Village of Marble

The Village of Marble was laid out by the Oliver Iron Mining Company for the accommodation of its employees at the Hill Mine. The town site comprises 80 acres and 20 acres adjoining have been reserved for a public park. Beginning in the midst of a dense forest during the summer of 1908, remarkable progress has been made in the town building. A number of brick business blocks have been constructed and a $40,000 brick school house will be completed this season.

The Town of Greenway has erected a substantial brick town hall. Streets have been graded and concrete walks are being constructed in connection with which concrete lamp posts will be erected, while a water and sewer system is soon to be installed, which will cost $50,000 or more. A number of houses have been built by the company for its employees and individuals are erecting others.

Work on the Hill Mine began in January 1908, and the excavation is already threefourths of a mile in length. Four Bucyrus type 95-ton steam shovels are being kept at the work, which employs 400 men in all. A concrete shaft is also being sunk on the property.

The development of this mine and of the town has been under the direction of H. C. Dudley, local superintendent of the Oliver Iron Mining Company. Mr. Dudley has been connected with the operations in this district from their beginning in 1905. For three years past he has been a member of the school board of the district and has taken an active interest in the educational progress distinguishing this locality.

Village of Calumet

This is one of the latest towns to spring into existence on the Mesaba range and has enjoyed a remarkable period of growth and prosperity. The townsite consisting of 80 and was platted by the Power Improvement Co. The sale of lots began July 27, 1908. Sales to the amount of $184,000 were made during the next six months. The promoting company graded the principal streets and began the construction of a modern hotel building, while numerous buildings were started at once by the purchasers of lots and nearly every line of trade was represented within a short time.

Early in the present season a sufficient population had congregated here to warrant the incorporation of the village which took place on June 11, 1909, 1,120 acres being included in the corporate limits. Transportation is supplied by the Duluth, Missabe & Northern railroad and by the Grand Rapids extension of the Great Northern Railway which has been built through the village within the last year. The town owes its existence to the proximity of the Hill Mine, which it adjoins on the south, and considerable exploration has recently been done within the village limits, which is likely to result in the opening of mining operations by independent companies.

The townsite is admirably selected upon a slight eminence. Little Penace [sic.] Lake, which lies partly within the village limits, provides an excellent source of supply for water and ice, and a water and sewer system and a village hall are among the public improvements being planned.

Source: Iron Ranges of Minnesota, an illustrated supplement to the Virginia Enterprise published in 1909, provided by the Virginia Area Historical Society.

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