Taconite Mining: Technology, Taxes, & Tailings

Helpful Newspaper Resources

The Taconite Issue and Minnesota's Press, 1961.
Facsimiles of news items and editorials from Minnesota newspapers.
MNHS call number: HJ4169.T2

Suggested Newspapers & Dates


  • Duluth Herald
  • Duluth News Tribune
  • Minneapolis Star -Tribune
  • St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch
  • Silver Bay News, 1956-1974
  • The Babbitt Weekly News
  • Virginia: Mesabi Daily News


  • November 1919: Mesabi Iron Company produces "Mesabi Sinter" from taconite with high silica content.  
  • June 21, 1922: Mesabi Iron Company plant in Babbitt goes into commercial production.  
  • October 1, 1922: First cargo (taconite) shipped from Mesabi Iron Company.  
  • June 10, 1924: Mining operations cease at Mesabi Iron Company plant in Babbitt.  
  • 1939: Reserve Mining Company organizes, leasing Mesabi Iron Company property near Babbitt.  
  • April 23, 1941: Law passed to exclude taconite from ad valorem tax.  
  • December 1947: Permits for taconite tailings discharge are issued to Reserve by the Department of Conservation (Dec. 18) and the Water Pollution Control Comission (Dec. 22).  
  • July 1, 1948: Erie Mining Company begins operation of a pilot taconite plant located in Aurora.  
  • September 13, 1956: E.W. Davis attends inaugural celebration of Reserve Mining's E.W. Davis Works taconite plant in Silver Bay.  
  • November 3, 1964: Taconite Tax Amendment passed by Minnesota voters.  
  • January 16, 1969: Minneapolis Tribune runs front page story on the Stoddard Report's findings via a leak from the Department of the Interior to eh press.  Report claims tailings have led to pollution in Lake Superior, on-land tailings disposal recommended.  
  • April 1969: Stoddard Report is made public.  Department of the Interior claims it was only an internal memo, not official policy.  
  • August 1, 1973: United States of America vs. Reserve Mining Company trial opens at Minneapolis federal courthouse.  
  • April 21, 1974: Judge Lord delivers opinion: Reserve Mining was polluting Lake Superior with asbestos-like fibers--a health hazard to those living near the lake. Reserve enjoined to stop all discharge into the air or water as of 12:01 a.m. the next day.  
  • March 16, 1980: Reserve Mining company completes Milepost 7, on-land tailings disposal, halting disposal of tailings into Lake Superior.  



Newsboy distributing January 1937 Minneapolis Journal.

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