Nashwauk, MN

About Nashwauk

Nashwauk was the first mining town in Itasca County. It lies immediately north of Hwy. 169 between two inactive open pit mines: Hawkins to the west and LaRue to the east. Population in 2019 was 1,151.

The late Robert R. Gilruth, former director of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center was born in Nashwauk. He was presented with the Collier Trophy in 1971. Gilruth was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, National Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.

Top Attractions

Hawkins Mine observation platform and the LaRue Pit for fishing and kayaking. Tip: The Hawkins Mine overlook at the western end of Central Ave. is one of the best mine views on the Range.

The LaRue Pit east of town is comprised of four inactive mines. The boat landing on LaRue Pit Road east of town is a good entry point for the 2.5 mile long, 200 ft. deep LaRue Pit Lake. Tip: The LaRue Pit Lake has remarkable sheer cliff walls best seen while kayaking. LaRue has Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, Walleye, and Yellow Perch.

History

Following the final retreat of glaciers from northeastern Minnesota approximately 10,000 years ago, native peoples migrated north and west. The Dakota people historically occupied the area. Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe), the most populous tribe in North America, migrated westward and the Dakota moved west of the Mississippi in the seventeenth century. There were periods of peace and conflict between the two tribes, but the stream of European American settlers into their territories resulted in conflict. The U.S. Government ultimately removed both tribes from their native territories and put them on reservations.

Fur trading between native peoples and French explorers flourished from the 1660’s onward. The first major industry was the wholesale logging of the entire northeastern (‘arrowhead’) portion of the state. Mining followed logging.

The Hawkins Mine in Nashwauk was the first mine in Itasca County. Operations began in 1902 and finished in 1962. It produced 25,000,000 tons of ore.

As was typical across the range, the town was built close to the mine to minimize commute time for the miners. Nashwauk was incorporated January 12, 1903. It is believed the town was named after a river in New Brunswick, Canada. At one point, there were 21 saloons in town. It was no surprise that the town’s first ordinance regulated the sale and consumption of liquor. The first ‘dwellings’ were tents and log huts. Board sidewalks and permanent homes began appearing in 1903. The population swelled from 220 in 1903 to 2,778 in 1920.

The historic Nashwauk school was built in 1920. It originally had an indoor swimming pool, which was fairly commonplace for Range schools built in that era with mining company funds. The mines needed workers and first-class schools attracted families to the towns.

Events & Festivities

Nashwauk celebrates Independence Day with fireworks and a street dance on July 3rd. It hosts a parade, games, and other activities on July 4th.

Services

Nashwauk restaurants and taverns serve a variety of food including burgers, Mexican, pizza, and chicken. Gas/convenience stores are in town. A local market is known for their meat department. The City operates a campground, other lodging available. See Nashwauk Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Access Point For access to Mesabi Trail™ from Highway 169, turn north onto Hwy 65 to the parking lot on the west side of the road. Trail access is directly across Hwy 65.
Nashwauk Access Point

For access to Mesabi Trail™ from Highway 169, turn north onto Hwy 65 to the parking lot on the west side of the road. Trail access is directly across Hwy 65.

Nashwauk Lodging LLC

204 Central Avenue
Nashwauk, MN 55769

218-360-2522

Website

Experience small town charm and hospitality at incredibly reasonable prices. Find our three properties on airbnb - Jasmin's Place, The Bird House, and Jimbo's Bunkhouse. 14 private rooms (with some shared spaces) and a bunkhouse great for larger groups. Rent daily, weekly or monthly.

Nashwauk Little Store

121 1st Street
Nashwauk, MN 55769

218-885-3105

Nashwauk Little Store

121 1st Street
Nashwauk, MN 55769

218-885-3105

Nashwauk Lodging LLC

204 Central Avenue
Nashwauk, MN 55769

218-360-2522

Website

Experience small town charm and hospitality at incredibly reasonable prices. Find our three properties on airbnb - Jasmin's Place, The Bird House, and Jimbo's Bunkhouse. 14 private rooms (with some shared spaces) and a bunkhouse great for larger groups. Rent daily, weekly or monthly.

Funding Source

The Mesabi Trail™ has been funded in part by the LCCMR and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.