The Iron Range is a rural area in Northeastern Minnesota where iron ore (and taconite) has been mined for generations. This area has some cultural aspects more similar to the U.P. of Michigan than the surrounding area of Minnesota. It was settled largely by Finns and some other Scandinavians and Russians.
Virginia is a city of 8,500 people (2018). "The Queen City of the North" is in St. Louis County on the Mesabi Iron Range. In 2005, Virginia gained fame as the city in which the movie North Country was filmed. The town was laid out in 1892, and named after Virginia, the native state of a large share of the lumbermen in the area at that time. It was a logging community first, then it was developed as an iron mining community. The mines in the Virginia area were prosperous and setting new records consistently by the late 1890s. The main population boom began after mining camps were built for entrepreneurs and financiers including Andrew Carnegie, Leonidas Merritt, Jay Cooke, John D. Rockefeller, William J. Olcott, and James J. Hill. With the use of diamond drills, mules, and a massive labor force, the mines were able to move millions of tons per year and ship them out of the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior, as well as Two Harbors.
Take I-35 north from Minneapolis to Duluth, then US-53 North from Duluth. Take US-53 south from International Falls, or north from Duluth.
US-169 enters Hibbing from the south, including Grand Rapids and the Brainerd lakes area. MN-37 enters from the east, bringing traffic from Duluth.
Take US 169 North from Hibbing to Virginia.
- The underground mine tour in Soudan, where the temperature is a constant 52 degrees year round.
- The Iron Range Interpetive Center in Chisholm, describing the lives of the first miners in NE Minnesota.
- The Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing, exhibiting early coaches and telling the story of how Greyhound got its start.
- Bob Dylan's Boyhood home on 7th Avenue East in Hibbing.
- The Paulucci Planetarium in Hibbing, on US 169.
- Tour Hibbing High School on 21st Street and 8th Avenue East.
- The Loon In the summer, Virginia sets a large fiberglass loon (Minnesota's state bird) afloat on Silver Lake, in the middle of town.
- Mineview in the Sky A scenic overlook that features a huge mining truck, a visitor's center and gift shop, and a playground. The Mineview offers a view on the entire city of Virginia.
- Hibbing High School offers tours. This school was built in the 1920s and is architecturally and historically significant.
- The Hull-Rust Mahoning open-pit iron mine is among the largest in the world.
- Land of the Loon. A festival held in Olcott Park the third week of June, the Land of the Loon features a parade, ethnic foods and dancing, and an arts and crafts fair.
- 1 Big Aspen Recreation Area, near junction of Forest Roads 405 and 257 (from Virginia, head north on US Hwy 53, turn east on Cty Rd 68, then north on Pelton Rd/Forest Rd 405). This is in the Britt area about 9 miles northwest of town and is great for summer hiking and biking, and for cross-country skiing from late fall through early spring. Groomed trails, wide range of skill levels.
- 2 Lookout Mountain (Laurentian Divide Recreation Area), US Hwy 53, south of junction with MN Hwy 169. The trailhead for Lookout Mountain hiking and cross-country trails is located 4 miles north of town. Sights along the highway include glacier-scraped granite hill-tops and vestiges of taconite mining operations. A Laurentian Divide geological marker is found about a mile north of the trailhead, near where MN 169 turns toward Ely while US 53 heads for Britt, Cook, Orr, and International Falls.
- Coates Plaza Hotel, 502 Chestnut St, ☏ , fax: . $60-80.
|Routes through Iron Range|
|Fort Frances ← becomes ← International Falls ←||N S||→ Hermantown → Duluth|
|END ←||N S||→ Grand Rapids → Minneapolis|
|Ely ← Tower ←||N S||→ END|