Jump the fence, peek over the tall ridge

Over the weekend I gave a lecture at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. A small but kind crowd was there for my talk about Iron Range political history and I thank these folks for coming out on a a beautiful fall day.

I took the “back way” home and what a day for a drive Saturday proved to be! See if you can figure out how I got back to Itasca County from Chisholm.

This route bobs and weaves through mining land. You know it’s mining land because of these tall ridges:

What would you see if you scaled one of these land walls and took a peek? Something like this, probably:

I’ll be writing about the mysteries on the other side for my column this week. Any implied trespassing on mine land is entirely metaphorical, I promise.


  1. Here’s an interesting article from Der Spiegel about how Germany is reclaiming their mines –


    with a photo gallery here –


    I don’t know to what extent these ideas could be applied to the Iron Range, since MN already has so many lakes, but I thought of the German project when I saw this post of yours today.


  2. Great find. It’s funny because there are various developers trying to revitalize our pit lakes into commercial and residential real estate here. It hasn’t met with the enthusiasm seen in Germany, partly because I wonder if Minnesota’s preponderance of relatively affordable lake properties isn’t holding down the value of rehab land.

    One of the challenges: the half mile deep centers of those pits! Watch your step, there’s a drop-off.

  3. Why, that’s got to be the Hibtac tailings basin. And any explicit trespassing on mine land is entirely part of the Ranger experience, I promise.

  4. The first photo is the Day Lake Road just off Hwy 5, right next to the IRMC headquarters.


  5. Bingo for C.O., though it’s almost not fair for you to answer. 🙂

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