The History of Naswauk, Minnesota (through 1910)

This village was founded in 1902 by the Nashwauk Townsite Company, and the place is thoroughly established as one of the permanent communities of the range. The situation is an advantageous one in the eastern part of Itasca county, about midway between Grand Rapids and Hibbing. Transportation is afforded by a spur from Hibbing of the Great Northern railway.

This line is now being extended to Grand Rapids and will give Nashwauk direct communication with all points on the system, including Virginia and other range towns. The present population is 1, 200 and the number is increasing at a rapid rate.

There are four active mines in this district and exploration io being vigorously prosecuted. All the mines in operation are controlled by independent companies. The La Rue, controlled by the Pittsburg Iron Ore Company, has been operated for the most part by means of a shaft, but an extensive stripping contract is now in progress; the Crosby is an underground mine operated by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, and the Pearson is an underground proposition recently opened by A. P. Silliman.

The village owns its water works system, built in 1906 at a cost of $25,000, and its electric light plant, which cost $12,000.

An extensive sewer system is now being constructed at an expense of $25,000. The village is proud of its volunteer fire department, which has many times proved its worth and is equipped with plenty of hose to meet all emergencies.

The assessed valuation of property in the village is $1, 608,000, while that of the town of Nashwauk amounts to $5, 850, 500.

Among the public improvements is the new brick school building, erected at a cost of $60,000. Seven teachers are employed in the village. This district (No. 9) includes the village of Keewatin in Nashwauk township, where a new school house was built last year and three teachers are employed. The property of the district is assessed at $5, 875,000. A brick fireproof jail has 725 7  been built, with male and female departments, according to plans furnished by the state board of control.

Nashwauk supports two churches and a number of fraternal organizations. Every line of retail business is well represented.

A number of the pioneers who walked or drove into town when the place was a wilderness have remained through prosperous and dull times and are proud of the fact. Among this number may be mentioned Dr. John L. Shellman, Paul Tvedt, the postmaster; Henry Hogan, village president; Judge Cram, Harry O’Brien, C. Latvala, James Hughes, Hugh Riley, W. A. Gordon, Ross Dodson and John Anderson, who conducted the first hotel in a tent and brought the first cow to town, an important event at the time.

An industrious enterprise which has been one of the main sources of income to the village of Nashwauk from its inception is the Hawkins mine, now operated by the Wisconsin Steel Company.

This property was originally explored in the year 1900 by the Itasca Mining Company, of which Senator E. B. Hawkins, O. D. Kinney and George H. Crosby were the moving spirits, and the mine was christened in honor of the first-named gentleman.

After proving the existence of a valuable mine, this company leased the property to the Deering Harvester Company, which sunk a shaft and began the shipment of ore in 1902, and about 100,000 tons were taken out by this process. Following the merging of the Deering Harvester Company in the International Harvester Company, the control of the property passed to the latter corporation, and it has since been operated by the Wisconsin Steel Company, which is the mining arm of that great organization.

Stripping operations were commenced on an extensive scale in 1903 and the work has been in progress each season since.

Approximately 2,500,000 yards of overburden have been removed, a portion of the ore body being uncovered each year in advance of the mining work. The excavation is now over one-half mile in length. Two steam shovels are kept busy loading ore through the shipping season and employed in stripping through the winter. In this manner an average force of 150 men are given steady employment throughout the year, there being but little variation in the number.

The annual production of the Hawkins mine runs from 300,000 to 400,000 tons of iron ore, which is shipped to Chicago and consumed in the furnaces of the Wisconsin Steel Company. This and the Agnew are the only mines operated by that great corporation on the Mesaba range, and they are ranked among the most important independent mines-in the state of Minnesota.

The Nashwauk State Bank was organized in 1903, with a capital of $10,000. The institution has prospered under able management, and has deposits of over $40,000. The officers are: S. R. Kirby, president; J. A. Redfern, vice-president, and John T. Ring, cashier.


  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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