Hibbing’s Hull Rust mine view on the move

This land bridge in the Hibbing Taconite pit will connect shovels and haul trucks to historic North Hibbing. The Hull Rust Mine View will close at the end of September. A new mine view will open next spring at a different site. (PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown)

I was trying to remember the first time I ever saw the Hull Rust Mine View in historic North Hibbing. I just couldn’t place it. For people who grew up in this part of the country, riding or pedaling up through the ghost town of the old village to the cliff overlooking Hibbing Taconite was part of the routine. This remains true in adulthood.

Visitors to the mining town of Hibbing, Minnesota, have until the end of September to see the iconic Hull Rust Mine View before it is blown to smithereens.

After that, Hibbing Taconite takes possession of 20 acres of historic North Hibbing, including the mine view, where it will begin new mining activity. Part of the disc golf course and remote control airplane field will also be rendered to rubble.

Fear not, a new mine view is being constructed to the east, on land once owned by Wilhelm Boeing, subject of a well-received column I wrote earlier this year. Riders on the Mesabi Trail might recognize the new location as “the place where you can see Hibbing and the mine pit at the same time.” The view will be good. But the loss of 20 acres from the “original North 40” reminds us of the realities of living alongside a mine.

In 1920, the entire city center of Hibbing was moved two miles south. Six blocks of the old town were located in an area that is now thin air wafting hundreds of feet above the mine pit. Though this move will not displace any residents, it will chew up more history.

My family and I visited the Hull Rust Mine View last weekend, probably for the last time. Like many Iron Range families, we went there several times over the years. The cover of my 2008 book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range” features my son Henry walking at the Mine View when he was 2. He’s 12 now, almost a loping teenager. As we stood on the viewing deck overlooking the pit, we noticed how the aspens had now almost blocked the view. I think most people can imagine cutting down aspens to open up sight lines. But can most people fathom blowing up a mountain, trees and rocks included?

The Iron Range likes to act old, but it’s not. This region, as we know it, is quite young. It’s constantly changing. It forgets its past, a sprawling epic that measures time in the march of glaciers. These are themes I’m looking at for some upcoming columns and my ongoing book project about Victor Power, one of the architects of Hibbing’s move just one thin century ago.

Comments

  1. Elanne Palcich says:

    Yes, and they are destroying the model airplane flying area, part of the disc golf range, and the dog parks. So much for valuing a sense of community.

    • john packa says:

      This is fantastic. Hibbing will live a little longer.
      “But can most people fathom blowing up a mountain, trees and rocks included?” um…. yes. it has been going on for a long time. Also it looks really cool.

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