By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The city of Hibbing is known for its famous people. Bob Dylan, Roger Maris and Kevin McHale all spent time growing up in the city. But Hibbing may be best known for an open pit that’s 8 miles long and about 3 1/2 miles wide.

Pete Hyduke works for the city of Hibbing and he’s also a bit of a mining historian.

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“At one time it was the largest open-pit iron mine in the world,” said Hyduke.

It’s often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Minnesota. The 360-degree view from on top of the Hull Rust mine is so vast, it extends for 45 miles in each direction.

“This is the Laurentian Divide so the continent is divided right here,” said Hyduke.

Mining here began 125 years ago. And in 1918, nearly 200 homes and about 20 businesses in Hibbing had to be moved so the mine could expand.

“It produced mostly iron ore that put us through World War II. It’s just been a major player in iron throughout the history of the United States,” said Hyduke.

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(credit: CBS)

And it still is. The Hibbing Taconite Company operates one of the largest mines in the world with some of the largest trucks in the world.

“This site we are working on right now was actually owned by Boeing. It was the Boeing pits. Mr. Boeing, at one time his son, sold this property to start Boeing Aircraft Company,” said Hyduke.

Digging deep in its history you’ll find that more than 1.4 billion tons of earth have been removed from the Hull Rust site. That’s the equivalent of digging a tunnel from Minnesota, through the center of the Earth, and out the other side.

Hyduke wants people to learn even more through this window to the mining world.

This summer, construction will continue on buildings that will give visitors a first-hand look, and, an education. Each year people from across the country and around the world, come for the history and stay for the view.

“We had people from 39 different countries last year who really enjoyed their experience,” said Hyduke. “It is our livelihood. It is our history.”

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The new buildings on site will be completed by the spring of 2022- and will be open to visitors shortly after.

John Lauritsen