Under the deep clear waters of Tioga Pit

Screen shot from a Curtis Lahr Go-Pro video taken underwater in the Tioga Mine Pit near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Screen shot from a Curtis Lahr Go-Pro video taken underwater in the Tioga Mine Pit near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

For your captivating view of the day, check out this video posted by Curtis Lahr of a scuba dive under the Tioga Mine Pit near Grand Rapids, Minnesota on the western Mesabi Iron Range.

There’s an old rumor that there’s a train engine at the bottom of the Tioga. This dive doesn’t show them going all the way to the bottom, so I guess we still don’t know. But there is a rifle perched on old mine equipment rigging, and that’s a pretty cool, if creepy, throwback to another time in Iron Range history.

Note the clarity of the water. The water that backfills into the pits after companies stop pumping them out is pure ground water. When the light is right you can see way, way down into these pits. My friend Carolyn King has swam most of the pits of the Iron Range, including several that are, let’s just say, difficult to reach. She’ll tell you these pits are clear, cool and clean. (No, ex-mines are not free of pollution, but the pollution is found where there’s runoff on waste rock, generally not in pits like these.)

A number of developments either have or plan to develop “lakeshore” properties on these old reclaimed pits. The views are unique, boasting the distinct colors of the Iron Range: sky blue, dull reddish brown and faded green. The only downside is a drop-off of about half a mile a few feet out from your dock.


  1. Lisa Johnson says

    Great video! I grew up in Grand Rapids and we went to “the pit ” often to swim!
    It is BEAUTIFUL!!!

  2. Steven Erickson says

    The rifle looks like it is chained down, if it is just weighted down but loose, it should be reported to the county Sheriff with the GPS location. Don’t move it, if the Sheriff’s department knows about it, there should be a sign placed near it. That the rifle is registered with the county. And the rifle is now a marked item and is to be left there for all to enjoy.

  3. Please don’t build at the pit just leave it be!!

    • Bonnie Pruett says

      I agree with you. It seems like developers just have to mess with something like this. Can’t they go somewhere else and not destroy the natural beauty of the put aa it is.

    • Elizabeth Sorensen says

      this was my grand fathers pit. He mined there. I insisted that fences be put on outside of pit to keep people from harm Thay did and sent me the photos. Lots of old equipment is at bottom when the crew had to surface. Museum quality
      equip and story,

  4. Please don’t build developments on the pits. Added imperious area to create more runoff and change the landscape.

  5. Was a favorite place to swim back in the 60’s and party too. Many fine memories there.

  6. That is the old swimming hole for me from the 70s I even had the opportunity to scuba dive it also breath taking never will forget it

  7. my family always went up there when i was younger. its so pretty. please just leave it be

  8. Marv Widmark says

    NO development please !!! Don’t care how spectacular the views are , leave it alone ! Grew up in GR and Tioga Beach/Pits are part of my great memories of GR !

  9. I remember swimming and fishing there in the early 80s, was awesome

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