April 2, 1907: U.S. Steel announces “monster” steel plant for Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1907, a Duluth News Tribune headline shouted: “U.S. STEEL CORPORATION WILL BUILD MONSTER PLANT IN DULUTH.” The paper went on to say that the plant “will make Duluth within ten years the largest city in the northwest and the first in rank of wealth.” It was a long time coming, as far as many community leaders were concerned. Ever since Mesabi Iron Range mines started shipping iron ore through Duluth to eastern markets in the 1890s, Duluthians envisioned a local plant to make steel in the Zenith City. The issue was fiercely debated in the state’s 1907 legislative session. From that debate a two-part bill was proposed to force the creation of a plant: first, a tonnage tax would be added to all ore shipped out of the state; second, that tax could be avoided by any company that built a steel plant in Minnesota. As the nation’s largest steel-making concern, U.S.S. purchased a great deal of Mesabi ore and balked at the idea of paying higher taxes on that ore but resented being forced to open a plant in Minnesota. The company resisted at first, but later relented, hence the 1907 headlines. Construction of Duluth’s Minnesota Steel Plant began in 1909, but the factory did not produce an ounce of steel until December 1915. Read more about Duluth’s metal fabrication industry here.

The blast furnace at the USS Minnesota Steel Plant in Duluth. (Image: Zenith City Press)

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