Here’s an itinerary to your liking! Depending on your penchant for history, an entire day can be spent in NE Minnesota’s cities of Hibbing and Chisholm experiencing an “in-depth introduction” to mining heritage and local history.
Begin your adventure at Hull-Rust Mineview in Hibbing, where a sweeping view overlooks an active iron ore mine, one of six in the region. See the massive mining equipment – shovels, “haul trucks” and more – working to extract and move rock from the pit to the crusher. Friendly and helpful volunteers can share stories and provide information about the mining process to the curious learner. Hours 9-5 daily during the season – no admission fee. Allow .5 hours minimum. Biffy only
Nearby, the Greyhound Bus Museum explores the history of the nation’s most venerable transportation company. Greyhound’s intra-city bus lines originated in Hibbing with a car salesman-turned-entrepreneur’s idea. Open daily mid-May-Sept 25; group rates available. Allow one hour. Restrooms
In between both locations, stroll or cruise the streets of “old Hibbing,” where the town was first built. Interpretive kiosks tell the story of how the village was moved to make way for mining. Explore the theme further at the Hibbing Historical Society Museum. A Hibbing walking tour brochure with audio component illuminates historic buildings, including singer/songwriter Bob Dylan’s childhood home and former haunts (or, experience with step-on guide). Step-on guide recommended. Call Iron Range Tourism Bureau to arrange. Allow 1.5 hours. Historical Society Museum free; tours call for times. Restrooms at museum.
A favorite stop is Hibbing High School, built in 1923 for the grand sum of $4 million and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours are a must to appreciate the history and grandeur of the building. Allow 1.5 hours with guide. No admission fee. Restrooms
At any point during the morning’s tour, enjoy breakfast pastries from Sunrise Bakery, en route between the Greyound Bus Museum and the Historical Society Museum. Pick up locally-made pasta in flavors from roasted red pepper lasagnetta to pesto linguine, and purchase ethnic delights such as potica, antipasto and more. Didn’t find a souvenir at the Hull-Rust Mineview gift store? South of Howard (SoHo) boutique on First Avenue features works by local artists and collectibles. Enjoy a late lunch buffet at Sammy’s Pizza, a landmark regional restaurant brand founded in Hibbing. Lunch at Valentini’s, a vintage supper club in Chisholm dishing up authentic Italian cuisine, is another nearby lunch option.
Next, head to Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, just a five minute drive from Hibbing. Open year-round, this one-of-a-kind facility is the Museum of the Iron Range, with exhibits that highlight the land, people and mines of the region, from pre-history to today. Make plenty of time to explore exhibits and even take advantage of free access to genealogy websites at the Iron Range Research Center, a library and repository for historic documents that is part of the museum complex. All ages enjoy a ride on Minnesota Discovery Center’s vintage trolley (at one time a common form of transportation in the region) to a mining ghost town. Guided tours and add-ons such as demonstrations, meals, and films are available.
Gift store onsite. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and Sundays May-September, group rates available Allow 2 to 2.5 hours with trolley ride. Staff tour guide recommended.
Late afternoon or free-time: relax or explore the Mesabi Trail, a 110-mile paved trail linking the communities of the Iron Range to the Grand Rapids area. Interpretive signage along trail highlights scenery and sites. Ideal for walking or bicycling. Bicycle rentals and shuttle service available through Giants Ridge Recreation Area. Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Mountain Iron (14 miles east of Minnesota Discovery Center) will provide cocktail reception. Dinner at local restaurants. Entertainment, including story-telling, music, demonstrations or lecture arranged through Iron Range Tourism Bureau.