- Vermilion Range (Minnesota)
The Vermilion Range exists between Tower and
Ely, Minnesota, and contains significant deposits of iron ore. The Vermilion, along with the Mesabi and Cuyuna Ranges, constitute the Iron Ranges of northern Minnesota. While the Mesabi Range had iron ore close enough to the surface to enable pit mining, mines on the Vermilion and Cuyuna ranges tended to be deep underground. The Soudan mine was nearly half a mile underground.http://fermilabtoday.com/pub/ferminews/Ferminews02-07-19.pdf] The ore had to be blasted from Precambrian sedimentary bedrock.
The reason that mining companies went through the trouble of blasting tunnels so far underground was the quality of the
hematiteore; the Soudan minehad ore so pure that two pieces could be welded. The bedrock, known as taconite, also contained iron, but in a much lower concentration. Eventually, the high-quality ore was mined out, and new processes had to be developed to extract the iron from the taconite. This was successful, and Minnesota's iron industry centered on the Mesabi Range, where the taconite was much easier to access.
* [http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/education/geology/digging/history.html Mn DNR]
* [http://nrhp.mnhs.org/iron_range.html Minnesota Historical Society]
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