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, 20th Century, Business, Environment, Great Lakes, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Lake Superior, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Shipping, Transportation

Split Rock Lighthouse Opens 1910

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July 31, 1910

“Shipwrecks from a mighty 1905 November gale prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. The construction was an engineering feat in such a remote location. The lighthouse was completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910.” *

Why is it that pain elicits an active response that “normal” life doesn’t? Why is it that we do not neglect action after a certain level of loss? Why do we wait to become creative problem solvers?

Will You guide this writing to elucidate the reader to the level of shipwrecks in this era of iron ore, grain, lumber, and fish shipments across Lake Superior and the Great Lakes? In a single season of November 1905, there were 78 fatalities and 29 disabled or destroyed ships.** When one adds in the frigid water, rocky coastline, and tendency of these shippers to overload their vessels it is easy to empathize with the concerns of sailors.

In response, United States Steel Corporation lobbied Congress to build a lighthouse with a foghorn. This effort was executed by engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. All building materials had to be hoisted up the 110 foot cliff from lakeside either by steam-powered derick, or railed up on a freight tram. Workers spent 13 months living and working on the cliff in tents with a brief respite during the coldest months of winter.

This day we remember the names of these lost vessels and their unnamed crews to You, Lord of All Seas: the A.C. Adams, Alice Vivian, Amboy, Bob Anderson, Lotta Bernard, A. Booth, E.T. Carrington, Charley, City of Winnipeg, Comet, Belle P. Cross, F.L. Danforth, Donna Marie, Duluth, Elgin, Samuel P. Ely, U.S.S. Essex, Fayling, E.P.Ferry, Fiorgyn, Thomas Friant, F.W. Gillet, R.F.Goodman, Criss Grover, Harriet B, George Herbert, Hesper, B.B. Inman, Isle Royale, John H. Jeffrey Jr., J.C. Keyes, Lafayette, Lewie, Liberty, Madeline, Madeira, Mary Martini, May Flower, Mentor, Niagara, Benjamin Noble, Oden, Onoko, Osprey, G. Pfister, Rebel, George Spencer, Ella G. Stone, Stillman Witt, Stranger, Robert Wallace, Thomas Wilson,  and the Six Dredge Scows. 

Will You forgive any judgments’ we made of these lost seamen, their wives, families and friends, and employers towards each other and towards You in their aeon? Will You cleanse Superior and the Great Lakes of its vast depths of unforgivenness? 

Will You especially release the pain caused by the urgency of the timber, iron mining, and taconite industries to expedite these shipments to world markets? Will You forgive us our industriousness that broke with Your Sabbath? We have missed Your wisdom when we work too much.

We remember also the efforts of Ralph Russell Tinkham and his construction workers. We thank You for their superhuman efforts to build Split Rock Lighthouse. Will You bless them, their progeny, and those who follow in their footsteps? Will You give us strength and acceptance when we face storms beyond our control? Will You make us  beacon and horn today to lead our peers away from the rocks and towards safe harbor?

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

**http://www.mnhs.org/splitrock/learn/shipwrecks

***http://www.mnhs.org/places/nationalregister/shipwrecks/list.php

 

 

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20th Century, Architecture, Bridge, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Transportation

Duluth Aerial Bridge Completed 1905

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March 24, 1905

“The Aerial Bridge is completed in Duluth. The bridge permits land traffic to cross the ship canal without interfering with the ships that pass in and out of the harbor. A lift bridge replaces the aerial system in 1930.” *

Aerial Bridge in Duluth began as a transporter bridge. Imagine an arch or high structure that spans a harbor that a segment of the bridge is suspended from on rails. Traffic boards on one side, and this segment of bridge rolls across to the other. When the segment reaches its destination, about 2/3rds of the channel is left open for harbor traffic. ** Quite ingenious!

Thank You for the mind of Thomas F. Mc Gilvray. How much pleasure You must take in the soul of an architect! A character that both delights in the disciplines of education, and in the revelation of beauty wherever it may be found or felt! A massive steel bulwark spanning a harbor may not immediately bring to mind the word ’beautiful’. Yet, to the residents needing to cross the harbor, it was tremendously useful. Is there a word for ‘useful beauty’? I’m sure there is in Your vocabulary, and that is what  I praise You for today!

Furthermore, thank You for the means to connect cultures! In this context, the physical barrier of the harbor could make it difficult for one to know and trade with neighbors just across the water. Thank You that this physical structure opened the doors of residents of Superior, WI. and Duluth, MN. to know each other, as well as the myriad of cultures of sailors from around the world. Will You bless this moment of March 24, 1905, and create a perpetual heritage of blessing in this Harbor? 

As You have promised…”the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8 NIV

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

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

 

 

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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, 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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18th Century, Economics, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans

North West Fur Co. 1784  

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“Grand Portage on Lake Superior becomes the western headquarters of the new North West (fur) Company. From here the British dominate the North American fur trade until Americans arrive in the early 1800s.” *

Father, I thank You for the blessing of work. It’s good to be productive and provide for our families. It’s a blessing to find joy in our job, whether simple or complex!

I don’t know what type of dominance the North West Fur company exercised in GrandPortage. However, I want to acknowledge how human it is to want control. Lord, forgive the offenses of N.W.F. Co. against You, and any other human parties involved! Father forgive any counter-judgments made by trappers supplying pelts to N.W. Fur.

We easily slip into judgments against our bosses and authority figures. Lord, forgive my attempts to control my own work life through the control of others! Will You wipe the slate clean?

*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 .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

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History, Prayer, Uncategorized

Grand Portage is established 1784

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“Grand Portage on Lake Superior becomes the western headquarters of the new North West (fur) Company. From here the British dominate the North American fur trade until Americans arrive in the early 1800s.” *

Grand Portage is both a place and a route. The route refers to an 8 1/2 mile portage that starts at the settlement and ends at the Pigeon River, above its waterfalls. Traveling from there through the many lakes along the Canadian Shield, a person could reach the Pacific or the Arctic Ocean without carrying a canoe much farther than the Grand Portage itself.

People and goods could reach Grand Portage, the place, from the East via the Great Lakes, from the South by the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, and from the West by the Grand Portage route. That location had been a central meeting point for trade long before Europeans came looking for furs. Once the fur trade began, Grand Portage also became a port–the westernmost point where goods could be delivered from the east coast by ship.

It is hard for us to imagine in this present era why fur could be so sought after. For moderns, it is a luxury that is contentious and risky to wear despite its  beauty. Most of us don’t know that our world experienced a small “Ice Age” and these European explorers were driven to find furs, like native Minnesotans, because of their warmth.

Will you forgive any judgments of North West Company? We show loyalty to our beloved brands of outerwear like: Columbia, North Face, Filson, Orvis, L.L. Bean etc. We buy these brands because we are convinced they are the best for our purpose. Yet, we have hated those companies who saw the beaver and said, “This is the best source material for warmth, comfort, and style.” Will You forgive our arrogance towards a company that saw an opportunity, provided work to both Native and European Minnesotans, and created useful and beautiful items for trade?

This brings me to ponder that You created fur to shield Your beloved creatures: the mink, the beaver, and the fox to name a few. I am in awe of your artistry in these first “fur coats”?! This day I thank You for the meaning of fur: first to the animals, then to Native Americans, European explorers and traders, and finally to the state of Minnesota!

Not only did You create this astonishingly warm fur, but provided a waterway to it! Thanks that you revealed Grand Portage to Indians, who shared it with the French and English who further established this trade route and town! Will You forgive our conflicts over the fur trade? Will You forgive our grudges, past, present, and leave a blessing?

*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 .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

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18th Century, Catholic, Culture, Exploration, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, Transportation

La Vérendrye & Grand Portage Trail 1731

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“Using a map made on birch bark by Assiniboin guide Ochagach, Pierre La Vérendrye follows the Grand Portage trail from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods. It is not a way to the western sea, as he has hoped, but fur traders will follow this trail for the next 100 years.” *

Sometimes the easy way is the hard way. A portage is an overland pathway that avoids dangerous rapids or falls for those traveling by river. Ochagach likely thought that the “western sea” that La Verendrye sought was Lake Winnipeg. Regardless of his disappointment, La Verendrye and the voyageurs respected and appreciated the wisdom in taking this 8.5mile trail past the dangers of the Pigeon River.

We often balk at the delays of modern life, even though we have such incredible technologies that serve our whims and convenience. Will You make us like Ochagach, so that we can see the dangers of convenience in our lives? Will You make us like La Verendrye, that we may heed the warnings of our friends to not try to foolishly “shoot the rapids?”

Father, thanks that You lead us on our way. Thanks that You delight in sharing your mysteries with us. Bless the Assiniboin people, Ochagach, and P. La Verendrye for the gift of this trail. Thank you that these two men showed trust to each other! Thanks for the lessons of the portage!

**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 .  Currently the timeline seems to be unavailable.

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17th Century, Culture, Economics, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans

Dakota & Ojibwe Treaty 1679

 

“Tensions mount between the Dakota and the Ojibwe newcomers. At a meeting arranged by Daniel du Luth, a European trader interested in keeping the peace, they strike a bargain. The Dakota agree to let the Ojibwe hunt in their territory, and the Ojibwe will let traders cross Lake Superior to trade with the Dakota.” *

Lord, thanks for being a good dad! Thanks that You know how to deal with the pettiness of children…and adults. I want to acknowledge the tensions that have risen in my own heart through the judgments of others, and the property that You have entrusted them with. I am just like du Luth, the Dakota, and the Ojibwe!

Will You forgive the fears of these groups towards one another? Will You forgive any envy of these groups? Will You release both victim and victimizer from the judgements of this event? Will You release us in the present from any heritage of bitterness or self-righteousness as it pertains to trade and commerce on Lake Superior? May You bless all, like du Luth, who seek to establish chesed (right relationship) rather than conflict?

*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 .  Currently the timeline seems to be unavailable. I am hopeful that it will be back up in the future, as it was a valuable, user-friendly tool for anyone wishing to explore Minnesota history.

 

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17th Century, Exploration, France, History, Intercession, maps, Minnesota, Native Americans

Allouez Creates Map of Lake Superior 1671

Vincenzo_Coronelli_Partie_occidentale_du_Canada_1688

“Partie Occidentale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France ou sont les Nations des Ilinois, de Tracy, les Iroquois, et Plusieurs autres Peuples; avec la Louisiane Nouvellement Decouverte etc. . . . 1688” Vincenzo Maria Coronelli / Jean-Baptiste Nolin. raremaps.com

 

“Claude Allouez, a missionary on Madeline Island in the 1660s, explores the western and northern shores of Lake Superior. In 1671, he produces one of the best early maps of the lake, indicating the first European awareness of Minnesota.” *

Lord Jesus, thank You that You are the Way! Thank You for the roadmap of forgiveness that restores broken hearts and relationship! Thank You for the discipline of map-making and bless Allouez, his generations, and dwellings for this gift! Will You bless all future Minnesotans who are committed to showing us the way?

*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 .  Currently the timeline seems to be unavailable. I am hopeful that it will be back up in the future, as it was a valuable, user-friendly tool for anyone wishing to explore Minnesota history.

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