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.

Standard
20th Century, Christian, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, State Government, Uncategorized

Thye Becomes Governor as Governor Stassen Resigns

iu

Shirtless flying ace Pappy Boyington greets Capt. Horold Stassen.

Apr 26, 1943
Edward J. Thye takes office as the state’s 26th governor when Governor Harold E. Stassen resigns to enlist in the Navy four months into his third term.*

To better asses the relevance of this event, let’s learn some background information on each of these men starting with the regional success story of Edward Thye.
“Edward J. Thye, the twenty-sixth governor of Minnesota, was born near Frederick, South Dakota on April 26, 1896. His education was attained at the Tractor and Internal Combustion School in Minneapolis, at the American Business College, and at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1918. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a private, and later rose to the rank of second lieutenant. After his military service, he worked at the Deere and Weber Company for two years, and then went into the dairy business. Thye entered politics in 1938, serving as the Minnesota deputy commissioner of agriculture, a position he held three years. He also served as the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1942 to 1943. On April 27, 1943, Governor Harold Stassen resigned from office, and Thye, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He was elected to a term of his own on November 7, 1944. During his tenure, a human rights commission was created; highway construction was advanced; a department of aeronautics was initiated; and an iron range rehabilitation commission was formed, as well as a postwar planning commission. In 1946, Thye won election to the U.S. Senate, but remained in the governor’s office until January 8, 1947. He then took his seat in the U.S. Senate, a position he held until 1959. Governor Edward J. Thye passed away on August 28, 1969, and was buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Northfield, Minnesota.”**

Using the same highly accurate source, we’ll look into the backstory of Governor Stassen from the vantage point of the governors association.
“During his tenure, the state’s highway system was advanced; a civil service law was sanctioned; tourist business with the state was promoted; and an anti-loan shark and labor bill was authorized. Governor Stassen resigned from the governorship on April 27, 1943, to enter service in World War II. He served as a captain in the U.S. Navy and was awarded numerous decorations for his heroic service. He also served on Admiral William F. Halsey’s staff as an aide and flag secretary. After his military service, he returned to his political career.” ***

This author was also pleased to find the information below written and researched by his great nephew
“With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese brought more change to Harold’s career.  When he ran for reelection as governor in 1942, he announced in a radio broadcast from the Governor’s Office on March 27, “The offensive drive for victory against the totalitarian forces that threaten the future of free men will be conducted in the main by the young men of my generation.  I want to be with them.”  He won reelection.” ****

Using these small kernels of information, will You guide this prayer Holy Spirit?
Will You show us root truths or misbeliefs that you may wish to address? Will You bring acknowledgement of wrongs, separations, and sins that unlock us from continuing down a rocky path?

Right away, the prompt to read the “Love Chapter” a.k.a. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 comes to mind. Why? Who gives away their authority and power except a human being that believes in love, and an overarching authority greater than his or her own?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…” NIV 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a

These Governors were not self-seeking, but ones who understood that the strength of their authority comes from being servants of their fellow citizens…even to the point of death. They led by example, and not from behind. Father, remember this happy day in our State when the people could clearly see that Stassen and Thye would do their duty!
Please encourage or exhort, build confidence or condemnation of our present leadership as needed so that we can continue a trust relationship with them! Will You raise more leaders in the North Star state who invite Your authority, and have humble hearts to lay down their domains of power at the proper time and season?

We also see their recognition of evils in their times. We take note with You today that they could see through the pleasant disguises of Stalinism, shintoism and the Showa Period of Japan, the fascism of Italy, and the Nationalsozialismus Party of Germany. Before the war began, westerners of many stripes saw and reported the positive, humanistic potential of these worldviews. Father, You know the names, but allow me to list a few who were charmed by these regimes: industry giant Henry Ford was awed at the efficiency of the German state factories, Neville Chamberlain perhaps sought peace, but placated warriors, and US President F.D.Roosevelt publicly stated, “Some of my best friends are communists.”

So we see a bitter root of envy within the goodness of our leaders; sometimes they are duped by evil. To expand, sometimes they may admire or even covet the drive to power of dictators, and secretly want to never be questioned in their goals or hampered by the restraints of law. Yet, within all leadership is a human being that is often no better or worse than the rest of us.

Lord, we confess our covetousness of the power of our neighbor(s). We confess that can become imbalanced when we love control more than contentment. We acknowledge that we often fold in the face of depravity, corruption, and vice rather than stand boldly against them. Will You remove this offense against You from our record?

Lord, we give honor to Governor Stassen and to Governor Thye. Will You remember their commitment to stand against the evils of the collectivism that called itself good in their age? Will You cause us to stand against the evils of our present era in the same way? Give us pause to consider; are we ready to die to our life’s ambitions to obey You, love Virtue, and love the Truth? Will we put aside our livelihoods for the sake of future generations of Minnesotans? Will we let our neighbor fight our battles, or will we (like Your example through Harold Stassen) lay down our lives for our friends? Have mercy on us, dear Father! Will You help us choose wisdom?

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** https://www.nga.org/governor/edward-john-thye/ Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
*** https://www.nga.org/governor/harold-edward-stassen/
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
**** https://lgoossens.blogspot.com/2012/04/who-was-harold-stassen.html

Standard
20th Century, History, Industry, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Labor, Mining, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Unions

Mesabi Range Strike 1907

Unknown

July 20, 1907 to August 15, 1907

“The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners—mostly Finnish—had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Although the union (Western Federation of Miners)had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20. In early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike.” *

What causes a man to be ready to say “enough is enough” Lord? Like many strikes, the motivations seem to be dangerous working conditions and too little pay. But is there more to this circumstance Lord?

I ran across the person of Charles Moyer, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners from 1902 -1926. This is a quote I found on Wikipedia regarding this strike:

“His experiences with the IWW led Moyer to the conclusion that the federation was too radical. Moyer was especially disturbed by the IWW’s refusal to ally with or endorse any political party, which had been the key to Moyer’s support for the creation of the IWW. In 1908, Moyer led the WFM out of the IWW, taking most of the IWW’s membership (which belonged to the WFM) with him. Concerned that the WFM’s reputation for radicalism was making it difficult to reach collective bargaining agreements, Moyer re-affiliated his union with the conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1911.” **

“This strike was not started by the I.W.W., but has been underway the past six years. We have appealed to every labor official in Minnesota to have the miners on the range organized, but we have been shuttled back and forth between the Western Federation of Miners and other organizations who passed us on again until finally the miners took things into their own hands and went out without organization.” ***                                 M.E. Shusterich A leader of the Mesabi Range Strike

So to briefly summarize the situation, Mesabi’s miners wanted relief from the stains of their labor. One union, the WFM, wished to settle with owners, and those influenced by the more aggressive IWW did not wish to settle. This is much more complex than I originally thought, but I ask You to help me unravel these motive conflicts. Like many of our struggles in life, our motives become less clear when loyalties to multiple relationships are involved.

Let’s start at the beginning, with the Finnish workers. Lord, You have seen how these men worked and know the exact conditions they strained under. Will You give acknowledgement to their labors, and remember the dangers they faced? Will You forgive any envy or discontent in their hearts if that led them to demanding more? Will You forgive their judgements and expectations of their employer; the Oliver Iron Mining Company?

Likewise, will You remember the strains of those in management at Oliver Mining? Will You hear their frustrations of trying to communicate with those who don’t speak the language of business? Will You forgive them their false assessments of these Finnish laborers? Assessments such as, “lazy”, “ungrateful”, and “not man enough for the job” come to mind. 

Another set of issues that added to the fog of this strike were as simple as culture and language clashes. These were readily identified and understood by the Italian Socialist Teofilo Petriella who joined with the WFM to assist with the strike.

“The WFM asked Petriella to organize these ethnically diverse miners on the Mesabi Range. In a 1907 report to the WFM, Petriella noted that the steel trust had earned a net total of $156,624,273, but had only paid out $47,765,540 in wages to the 202,457 men they employed. This was important information the miners needed to know because they had not been given a raise in two years. Unfortunately none of the WFM organizers spoke Slovenian, Italian, or Finnish so they could not effectively communicate with the vast majority of disgruntled workers. Petriella’s arrival heralded a new beginning for the organization efforts because he could address the Italians in their native tongue. He also brought in Finnish and Slovenian speakers to assist in the recruitment drive. With their help, he was able to establish or found new union chapters in Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Virginia, Eveleth, and Aurora, plus many other smaller communities in the region. Within these organizations, Petriella split the membership along ethnic lines, which allowed immigrants to organize with their fellow countrymen.****

Will You remember these contributions towards clarity made by Petriella, Lord? Will You forgive the judgments made in this strike based on region? Will You forgive the Northern Europeans their prejudices towards the Southern Europeans, and vice versa? So many of our disputes stem from language and or culture. They did not reach clarity because of imprecise language skills to have a nuanced conversation. Presently, we still have the same problem. Forgive us our failures, past and present, to learn and speak each others’ language. Will You inspire future generations to know each other better by knowing both culture and language?

This event encapsulates the ironies of our human nature and heritage in the conflict of the WFM and the IWW. These two organizations both sought to represent their large memberships in labor disputes. Though their stated purpose was to unify miners, in this case, their conflict with each other left their memberships without representation in Mesabi.

Lord, will You forgive the judgements of the WFM towards the IWW? Will You forgive their assessment of the “radicalism” of the IWW? Conversely, will You forgive the IWW of their judgements of the “conservatism” of the WFM? Will You forgive these internal conflicts of labor leadership that left the miners on their own? Will You show us Your plan to resolve such situations? Will You unify us as Your people and forgive our denial of the other man’s talents? 

When all is said and done, a huge elephant in this room is envy. It reveals itself to be a root cause of many schisms and revolutions, especially driven by the popular socialist thought that justice is necessarily economic equality. Yet, I question if the human heart would be pleased if we ever reached exact and total economic equality.

Why? There are too many examples in history and life where the difference between envy and contentment is a decision of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions. We may not be able to control our environment or living conditions, but we can choose our response.

For example, my wife worked with the Sisters of Charity in Haiti. These nuns owned two changes of clothes and a bucket. That’s it! No other possessions. Yet, they found joy in the midst of squalor, and their contentment brought hope and help to thousands of poor. 

I do not diminish that it’s right to oppose evil. I do not think truth tellers should lose their jobs, be beaten, or even killed for standing up for themselves and others. What I ask of You is that You empower us to oppose evil without becoming evil.

Lord Jesus Christ, You know what it’s like to be poor, homeless, and friendless. Will You give us character that chooses contentment in spite of circumstances? Direct our eyes to You in our seasons of struggle when we are truly powerless and suffering. Will You take this envy from the Mesabi Strike of 1907 up, out, and onto Your cross? Will You be our Heavenly Mediator in our strikes today with oppression, economic injustice, and the envy of our own hearts, and bring a just settlement?

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

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

*** Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the labor movement in the United States, 1980, 4th edition, pages 493-494.

**** This quote is from a transcript on “Teofilo Petriella : Marxist Revolutionary” given by Paul Lubotina at Michigan Tech.   http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=copperstrikesymposium

 

 

Standard
20th Century, Business, Governors, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Labor, Mining, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Johnson Becomes Governor

Unknown

January 4, 1905

“John A. Johnson takes office as the state’s 16th governor. Johnson became the first Minnesota-born governor, the first to serve a full term in the present state capitol, and the first to die in office. He also was the first Minnesota governor to bask, fleetingly, in the national spotlight when he sought the 1908 Democratic presidential nomination, but lost to William Jennings Bryan.” 

G-d, it is so difficult to prayerfully write about politicians; there’s so much to know about these individuals, and mere facts do not often give one a grasp of their character and motivations. Will You guide me to information that tells the story You most want me to record? Will You give insight to my dullness today?

After a quick hunt on the internet, I found this excellent source at google e-books.   It was originally published in 1910, so the information would be a recent memory of the authors. This is what they had to say,

“As an executive the most spectacular achievement of his career was his handling of the strike on the Minnesota iron range in the summer of 1907.”

“Led by Italian socialist Teofilo Petriella…”

“Needed only a spark to explode this magazine of hatred and fancied wrong…”

“Without guard or escort, he sought out the leaders of the strike…”

“The leaders of the other side were seen in the same personal manner.”

“And the peace was kept without the use of a single soldier or the firing of a single shot-at the cost to the state only of the Governor’s trip to the Range.” **

Lord, I want to acknowledge this memory to You. Thank you for the peacemaking abilities of Governor Johnson. Thank You for the power of listening intently he showed those in this disagreement. Thank You for the gifts of wisdom this Governor exercised to avert hostility. 

However, absence of war alone does not mean peace. Those who followed Petriella to the precipice of revolt suggest that their grievances were deep and unresolved. Lord, will You forgive their bitterness towards their employers? Will You forgive their employers’ judgments towards them? 

As a man who did physical labor for years, I may understand part of their pleas for relief. We are human beings, not machines, and sometimes we simply cannot work more without rest. It is very hard to hear criticism from a boss when you have worked yourself to the point of exhaustion day after day. Will You remember the cross of physical exhaustion these men bore? Will You hear their yearnings for their labor to be valued and respected by their bosses and society? 

Conversely, hear the voices of their leaders, foremen, and employers! So few of us know the loneliness of being a leader, or of having extremely high pressure decisions on our plate day after day. Often these leaders have no one to confer with, or have insufficient time and data to make informed choices. They just have to “man up” and make the call.

Will You hear their longings for appreciation? Will You heal their feelings of beings hated and punished for creating jobs? Will You be with them in their lonely decisions? 

It is easy to look back on this situation and see how these two groups, labor and employer, may have misbeliefs towards each other. Each group has real needs and wants and limitations that should be heard and considered. In light of that, I bless these two groups of Minnesotans that have, are, or will work on the Iron Range; the laborer and the employer. Jesus Christ, will You overcome all their obstacles to a symbiotic relationship? Will You provide mediators like Governor Johnson who can skillfully deal with any crisis? Will You give us Your imagination, and offer new and creative means to repair rifts long before they erupt? 

Finally, forgive us, both then, now, and into perpetuity, of failing to see that judgements of our sister, brother, or boss are judgments of You. Who are we to judge Your laborers intents rather than actions? Didn’t You make them strong and skilled and able to withstand the elements? Who are we to judge your employers? Didn’t You give them the ideas to create useful products, to manufacture those products, and sell those products to the world for a profit that enables the cycle to continue? Didn’t You make some who are born leaders? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for the will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

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

** Frank Day and Theodore Macfarlane,Life of John Albert Johnson, Three Times Governor of Minnesota., Forbes and Company, 1910. pp.161-163.

***Excellent summary of this strike by Jack Lynch of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. http://www.hibbingmn.com/news/years_of_yore/petreila-brains-of-strike/article_9a2d9290-ee82-5421-b481-92b4012fef38.html

 

 

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

Duluth Boom 1890

unknown

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

 

 

Standard