Hull-Rust Mine

View of the Hull-Rust Mine in Hibbing, MN - Largest Open Pit Iron Mine in the World. 

The goal of my road trips are to hike the state parks, but along the way, there are many other Minnesota landmarks that can't be passed up. When I found myself stopping for gas in the mining town of Hibbing, I decided to take the first of what I hope will be many pit stops.

Hibbing is famous for many things - well,  for three things at least. It's the hometown of both Bob Dylan, Greyhound Buses (actually all buses), and the Hull-Rust Mine - the largest open pit iron mine in the world. The first two abandoned the town as soon as they grew large enough to make it on their own and never once looked back. The mine grew large as well. In fact it grew so large, the town had to abandon it, moving a full two miles to the south to avoid being consumed as the land beneath the building was mined.

To get the scale - see that little line in the bottom right corner? That's a giant road with huge trucks running on it. 

Three and a half miles long, 1.5 miles wide, and 600 feet deep, the terraced red canyon would look more at home in the desert southwest than the fertile forests of Minnesota's lake country. And it's no wonder the mine is so massive. Part of the famed Mesabi Range, the largest of several iron ranged in Northern Minnesota, the Hull-Rust Mine alone provided a fourth a all iron ore used in the country during WWI and WWII, yielding over 50 million tons of iron. Considering the worth of the iron pulled from the northern ranges over the last hundred years is estimated at well over 15 trillion dollars and that over %75 of domestic iron still comes from these mines, the area is one of the more depressed regions of the state. The high quality ore is gone, the industry is fickle, and wealth for mining companies (many foreign owned) has never meant wealth for miners. 

One of the giant dump trucks used in Hibbing's Hull-Rust Mine. 

But if you ever find yourself in Hibbing, take the short drive to the mine. It has its own beauty, though many consider it nothing more than a scar across the landscape. I would also suggest that you check out the triple continental divide - one of only four on the continent - where the Laurentian and St. Lawrence Divides meet, but since the site is owned by the mines, the best you can do is squint across Hibbing's humongous pit and know that it's somewhere in the distance.

Bob Dylan singing about the iron mines in Hibbing, MN - the town he grew up in.