Finding Minnesota: The ‘Grand Canyon Of The North’ – by Mike Binkley (CBS Minnesota – May 31, 2015)

HIBBING, Minn. (WCCO) – This year, thousands will take a side trip to a giant hole in the ground in northern Minnesota that locals like to call “the Grand Canyon of the North.”

It’s not a natural wonder. It’s a panoramic collection of cliffs, ridges and valleys that have all been carved up by humans. The Hull Rust Mahoning Mine on the edge of Hibbing is the second largest open pit iron ore mine in the world.

Beauty was not the main objective when miners first arrived there in the 1890s, but after 120 years of blasting, digging and hauling, beauty is what many visitors see. Anne Varda, whose family includes three generations of miners, is now president of the adjacent tourist center.

“I love this view,” she said. “This is reassuring to me. This is life going on. And the view is nothing short of spectacular.”

For eight miles in one direction, three-and-a half miles in the other, you see what miners have left behind in their search for taconite.

It’s a natural resource in such abundance that mining companies went to extremes to get it.
From 1919-21, Hibbing became known as the town that moved, as hundreds of buildings were either demolished or relocated so crews could open up the land beneath them.

Bob Robinson, 83, saw his family’s home get hauled away decades later as the mine expanded.
“Everything had to be moved,” he said. “The plant came, and we lived right here, and they were going to mine right where we were.”

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