20th Century, History, Mining, Minnesota

Something from Nothing: Taconite Mining in Minnesota

Davis Works, Reserve Mining Company, Taconite Mining Silver Bay, MN. ca. 1955

1955
“Taconite promises to save an Iron Range that is running short of iron. New technology converts low-grade taconite rock into concentrated iron pellets and Reserve Mining Company opens a mine and processing operations.” *

Sometimes, our most brilliant ideas are buried. After the ravages of World War II, and the tremendous steel production demands of those years, the Mesabi Range was largely depleted of its high-grade ore. The race was on to find a way to save these mines and miners from extinction. What could be done to save the world’s first “billion dollar business” a.k.a. United States Steel? ****

Yet, the contest already had chosen a victor in Dr. E.W.Davis. His research into extracting the iron from hard taconite rocks began four decades previous to this moment. During this period, Davis invented an affordable process that unlocked the potential of taconite.

So, what did this method involve? He first needed a way to crush these very hard rocks; an engineering feat in itself. Next, he solved the riddle of removing the iron content of the crushed stone, and chose to use magnetism. The separated iron is next reconstituted into pellets through a tumbling and rolling operation. In this final state, as pellets, they could easily be transported and utilized by the end user when liquified in a blast furnace. ***

At the same time, to commence and fulfill the 19 patents of research by Dr. Davis, the Reserve Mining Company began to retool their operation to refine taconite. This lengthy process of planning spanned the years between 1939-1952 and entailed: reconditioning of plants, acquisition of lands, supporting Davis and his work at the University of Minnesota Mines Experiment Station, water studies, aerial surveys, and proposed harbor modeling. Below is a quotation from “A Chronology of Reserve Mining Company” written by Richard C. Hemmersbaugh.
“XXIV. Operations in Silver Bay.
The first pellets were produced at Silver Bay on October 20, 1955. The first pellets were shipped from the new port of Silver Bay on April 6, 1956. The Managers of the Silver Bay Division were successively, Edwin C. Lampman, Matthew R. Banovetz, Kenneth R. Judkins, James A. Reynolds and David L. Dingeman.”
And
“XXVIII. Reserve Mining Shipments
According to the Minnesota Mining Directory, as of 1986, total cumulative shipments by Reserve Mining Company were 218,839,191 tons of pellets.”

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

We now turn to You, Adonai, and sit in reflection with You. We remember Your exceeding greatness today. We pause before Your masterful Creation and Your abilities of re-creation! We remember Your masterful timing and positioning of resources and human lives; before we ask, You have done the homework and spent the eons of time necessary for our provision and the fulfillment of Your purposes. No one is like You, Lord!

We reflect on this single sentence recorded by Jeremiah 2606 years ago. We ponder that You named this man according to his purpose: “the Lord exalts”, “the Lord establishes”, and the Lord “throws down”!? What an apt reminder of Your Sovereignty, and even of the symbolism for a quiet little state in the center of a great continent and our history of taconite mining! You break the rejected waste of our rocky hearts, reform them, and by the fire of the Holy Spirit, remake them into a blessing for us and our neighbors!

Who, but You, could foresee the talents of E.W. Davis? Who, aside from You, could hone his life’s talents and travail so perfectly that at just the right moment he could collaborate with the Reserve Mining Company? Who, apart from YHWH Jireh (the Lord will provide), could serendipitously arrange the decades of planning and research of both of these partners into a single flow of creativity? None but the Almighty could see the end from the beginning: to save the livelihood of thousands of workers, to save an industry, and to turn these rejected waste stones into hundreds of millions of tons of useful building material! With You, nothing is something!

We acknowledge to You the bitter-root judgments and curses of iron and taconite mining in the Range of Minnesota. So much of the best resources You gave were used in war! Once taconite took over, we began tainting the ground water and Lake Superior with the tailings. * We overcame many obstacles, but didn’t see some of the “cause and effect” of these creative actions. Insofar as we offended You in our mining and refining, will You forgive us?

Under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, by His Cross, by His resurrection, and by Your Unchanging Word, will You take this burden: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?
In faith, we declare Your forgiveness over these events past, and ask that You breathe life into our present. Be the oversight of this industry, its’ innovators, workers, and the natural resources of the North Star state!

We end this prayer with a declaration of blessing. May we see and foster the growth of inventors like Dr. E. W. Davis! May we be blessed with a workforce that honors You and the future of their neighbors by faithfully executing the daily grind of its dangerous and mostly unrecognized labor! May our future continue in Your security through the diligent planning and administration of the great industries of the North Shore like the Reserve Mining Company! May we receive the blessing of Our Father; the G-d who Makes Something from Nothing!

Watch the process of loading taconite into ships. Scinocca, Paul. “Watch a classic laker loading ore at CN Duluth” November 22, 2019. YouTube. Internet.

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Mining, Minnesota, Native Americans, omnipresent history

Duluth Boom 1890

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1890

“Ore carriers at the Duluth docks take iron ore to the blast furnaces of Pennsylvania. Duluth is booming on the promise of lumber and iron ore. Its population is nearly 10 times what it was 10 years before.” * 

For those not acquainted with Minnesota, it is necessary to define the huge northeastern portion of state once so rich in iron ore. Folks here usually shorten it to “the Range” or if I use correct pronunciation of the local dialect; “Da Range”. Below is a nice snippet to give us some accuracy to pray through.

“The Iron Range is an informal and unofficially designated region that makes up the northeastern section of Minnesota in the United States. It is a region with multiple distinct bands of iron ore. The far eastern area, along the shore of Lake Superior, and the far northern area, along the Canadian border, of the region are not associated with iron ore mining. Due to its shape, the area is collectively referred to as the Arrowhead region of the state.” **

Thank you for the blessing our state with iron ore! Thank you for its discovery! Thank you for the roles both Native Minnesotans’ and eastern geologists played in finding rich sources of this useful metal!

Will You forgive the injustices, bitterness, and divisive competitiveness of this era? Will You replace the deficits of love that have created an inheritance of distrust in Duluth, its’ mining interests, and across the steel industry? Will you give grace to those whose water or land or air were tainted through ore mining? Christ have mercy on us! We are offended and honestly wronged by our neighbor. We form grudges. Then we become the prisoners of our own grudges! Will you show us how to let the other guy ‘off the hook’ so the we do not continue in hypocrisy? Will You give us trust that You will make things right, even though we see no signs of change no matter how hard we search for it?

Because You are “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” by faith, I announce Your blessing to the Arrowhead region. May your land, air, water, all above you, and all below you, continue into eternal space as a ray of blessing! May your peoples, of all races and creeds, see and feel and know that You are a GOOD FATHER! May this region be known in the present and the future as a people of forbearance who conduct their business and government with the same gemutichkeit (goodwill)! May the plans of the Enemy to turn our hearts hard as iron ore come to nothing! Please use this Arrowhead region to point and lead into a future of blessing for our state and all people!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Range

 

 

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19th Century, Business, Environment, Geology, History, Industry, Intercession, Mining, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Iron Industry Launch 1884

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1884

“With the state’s first shipment of ore from the Vermilion Range, Minnesota’s iron industry is launched. Within 20 years, new immigrants will mine from the region a great majority of the iron for the nation’s industrial boom.” *

Ore is moved by train to ports like Duluth. From there giant ships carry it to the blast furnaces of Ohio and Pennsylvania where it is melted and processed by the heat of burning coal from mines in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The result is steel, which goes to factories in cities such as Detroit to become the rails of railroads, the skeletons of skyscrapers, and the chassis of cars. 

The growth of iron mining brings tens of thousands of new people to northeastern Minnesota. They come from almost every country in Europe and elsewhere, bringing different languages and cultures from places like Canada, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Syria, Russia, and China. 

Father, we adore You! You have given us an earth full of blessings! We thank You for the gift of iron ore. We thank You for the impact of this gift on our state and peoples!

Father, we are full of bitter roots and rusty hearts! This blessing has been corroded by our mis-dealings. We are guilty of judging the owners of the steel business: Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, etc. We have stolen and tainted the land of the individual, the Indian nations, our neighbor’s business, our state, and our nation. 

We have judged our fellow workers on the basis of his race or culture: Canadian, Welsh, Irish, Swedish, Finnish, Belgian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Italian, Greek, Syrian, Russian, Chinese, and Native American! We have offenses based on interstate prejudices: Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Sioux, Dakota, Ojibway. 

Lord, will You have mercy on our humanity? Will You replace this heritage of curses with blessings for us? Will You reverse the curses against the land, and all the pathways it has travelled out this state through out the world? I want to pronounce the blessing of the Lord to every molecule of steel that has passed, is passing, or will pass from this state!  May You grant us humility, wisdom, and imagination to properly use the resources of this state! May the iron of Minnesota, regardless of its present use or form, ring with the unlimited, infinite blessings of its’ King! Hallelujah!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

 

 

 

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19th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, Treaties

Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Lake Vermillion Reservations Established in 1854 

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The Mississippi and Lake Superior bands cede the Arrowhead Region of northeastern Minnesota and are put on the Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Lake Vermillion reservations.*

Jehovah, if my family was being force-moved to a reservation by the state of Minnesota; I would be furious! But faced with a hopelessly powerful opponent, I too, would concede! Will You forgive the judgments of the US and territorial governments towards the Mississippi and Lake Superior bands of Ojibwe, especially the necessity to cede this parcel of land from them?

The lumber and mining interests probably knew the value of this land, and would not be afraid to twist the arm of any politicians who stood in the way of this prize. Where there was greed in this moment, will You forgive us? This wood and this iron, from these woods and grounds, have filled the earth with benefits, but when viewed in human terms seems tainted. Will You reclaim Your natural resources? Wherever or whatever form they may take today?

Were there any counter-judgments these Native Americans may have made in their hearts towards our system? It would be only human to feel so. Imagine waking up to the announcement that the government needs your home more than you, and that you must evacuate the area as soon as possible? Lord forgive us this concession as a state, as well as our personal attempts to force our way on others.

Will you heal the reservation lands, what is below, what is above of Grand Portage (Gichi-onigamiing), Fond du Lac (Nah-Gah-Chi-Wa-Nong meaning “Where the current is blocked”), and Lake Vermillion (Onamanii-zaaga’iganiing, “At the Lake with Red ochre”) and continue to resolve this conflict? Will You give us one reservation where all are welcome?

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .

 

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