January 26, 1893: First Mesabi Range iron ore used in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1893 the first iron ore taken from the Mesabi Iron Range over the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad to Duluth was tested in a blast furnace. The Minnesota Blast Furnace company of West Duluth was fired up and the first cast was made at 11:45 a.m. Taken from the Cincinnati Mine and furnished by the Standard Ore Company, the ore was such high grade “Bessemer” ore that it required no mixing with other chemicals to produce quality steel. This was a great relief, as many feared the ore could not be worked alone—and therefore, was of lesser value than other ores. Some even feared the ore would be unsafe to burn if not mixed with other elements. But general manager A. W. Richards had no fear, and president Charles Himrod didn’t stop him. The event brought in many observers who had interests in Iron Range mining, as according to the Duluth News Tribune the point that Mesabi ore was high-grade Bessemer would help “fix the values and the output of the mines in the new district.” In other words, it would make investing in Iron Range mines less of a risk, and the promise of high-production mines made it easier for companies to finance their investments. Essentially, the test secured and predicted the future of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range.