In 1895 underground mining began in the Hibbing area following the discovery of iron ore. The Burt-Poole and Sellers mines were the first to ship that summer. Mining Captains, of Cornish decent, utilized their experience from the Vermillion Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota to develop these early underground operations.- In Partnernership with the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation -
It quickly became clear that open pit mining was more suited to the flat dipping and shallow iron ores on the Mesabi Range. Most of the initial underground operations advanced into open pit mines, which were less costly and didn't require the highly experience workers. Even so a number of underground mines continued operating well beyond the 1920's.
Because of the unstable ground conditions the typical 'square set' timbering was found to be very dangerous and the engineers quickly adopted the 'slicing' and 'top level caving' mining methods. These required timbering and planking over the entire mine roof. Despite many underground safety improvements, over the years, many stories still exist of the dangerous working conditions that the miners encountered, where they were rumored to have seen the 'devil himself'.
It was reported that following the spread of such rumors Captain Pengilly, a prominent mine boss, told his miners that "the devil was dead, and that, had he seen the gentleman down there, he would have assigned him a number and put him to work".
The underground mine car on display here (and two at Hibbing Taconite Company) were uncovered in 1985 during taconite mining operations in the old Warren Mine area approximately 4 miles west of here near Leetonia. These hand pushed cars were manufactured in the 1920's.