Discover the history of mining on the Iron Range, vintage machinery and the beauty of scenic overlooks at the Hill Annex Mine, the world’s largest open pit mine that is open for tours.
Located in Calumet, Minnesota, just off Hwy. 169 (halfway between Grand Rapids and Hibbing) the history of Hill Annex dates back more than a century. The land was originally leased for mineral exploration in 1892. It was leased again in 1900 for a period of more than 50 years. Mining began in 1913 and continued until 1978. Hill Annex Mine produced 63 million of iron ore during its 60 years of operation. Throughout that time mining technology changed drastically. In the early days, horses provided the power. Eventually steam and then electrical power replaced the horse-drawn equipment. When the high-grade ore finally played out, the mine was sold to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (now Iron Range Resources) for $1. The IRR developed the tour route and the clubhouse into a museum/visitor center, then gave tours of the mine for 10 years. In 1988, the State Legislature made Hill Annex Mine a state park. It is now a national historic site.
Scarce iron deposits may be left behind, but abundant wildlife and vegetation now fill the scarred landscape. The park is a release site for peregrine falcons and home to bald eagles, bear, timber wolves, deer and other wildlife. Trees and plant life have come back to vegetate the area as well.
Two different 1 ½ hour tours conducted at the mine illuminate the history of open pit mining on the Iron Range. The Mine Bus Tour takes visitors (in a fully air conditioned and handicap accessible bus) along scenic overlooks stopping for up close viewing of vintage mining machinery and buildings. The Fossil Hunting Tour takes visitors to the Cretaceous Ore Pile to hunt for 86 million year old sea fossils.
Tours are conducted Wednesday thru Saturday and holidays from May 20th to September 5th 2009. The Mine Bus Tour begins at 12:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., the Fossil Tour begins at 10 a.m.. All tours are 1 1/2 hours long. Tour busses and facilities are handicap accessible. Museum, gift shop and observation deck are all open year round. Club House/Museum Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Mon. – Tues. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wed.- Sun. Labor Day to Memorial Day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Mon. – Fri. Tour times may be subject to change; please call for current hours. For more information call 218-247-7215.