Hill Annex Mine State Park is located on the grounds of the sixth-largest iron producer in the United States. This open pit mine extracted natural iron ore from the Mesabi Range of northern Minnesota from 1913 to 1978. The Hill Annex Mine captures an era of mid-century mining that is often overlooked in other mining museums. Equipment, records, and other artifacts from the mine are all on display at the Clubhouse Museum.
History of the Hill Annex Mine
The Hill Annex Mine is located on a rich deposit of natural iron ore. While an early lease in 1892 for mineral exploration came to nothing, a later lease in 1900 resulted in iron mining operations in 1913.
The wealth of the deposit sustained mining for over 60 years. Over the years of operation, the mine transitioned from horsepower to steam and then electrical equipment. Yet, by 1978, the iron had played out, and mining ceased. By the time of its closing, the Hill Annex Mine had produced a total of 63 million tons of iron ore.
With the closing of the mine, the pumps that kept the open pit dry ceased operation. Over the years, the pit has filled with water, and much of the workings are now flooded. Yet, structures and equipment around the rim have been preserved as part of the Minnesota State Parks program.
Visiting the Clubhouse Museum
Today, the historic office building, laboratory, maintenance shop, truck repair shop, wooden water tower, and community club built between 1915 and 1930 remain intact.
The mine’s clubhouse—built back in 1915—has been remodeled into a museum preserving artifacts of the Hill Annex Mine. Individual rooms in the Clubhouse Museum are dedicated to recreations of a period chemistry lab, miner’s bedroom, geologist’s office, mine engineering office, and mine superintendent’s office.
At the entrance to the Clubhouse Museum is a six cubic yard shovel bucket that could hold approximately 12 tons of ore while it was in use at the Hill Annex. These buckets would scoop overburden and ore into trains and trucks to be hauled to processing and transport sites. Over the operation of the mine, shovel buckets varied in size from 4 to 10 cubic yards. That places this six cubic yard shovel bucket on display on the lower end of scooping capacity.
Visitors can also participate in seasonal 1½-hour mine tours of the open pit and see original buildings and equipment.