For access to the Mesabi Trail™ from Highway 169, exit north onto Hwy 15. Trail access is at Bennett Street. Parking is available at the Community Center and on Bennett Street.
In 2019, the population of Taconite was 634. Taconite is known as the “Hub of the Nation.” The moniker dates to 1943 when Taconite resident Peter Axford was stationed in New Guinea during WWII. In his letters back home, he would say hello to everyone back in the ‘Hub of the Nation.’ The expression stuck.
Chuck Grillo of Taconite played in the NHL and was an executive with the San Jose Sharks. James ‘Slimmy’ Troumbly made the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team in 1952 but chose to play hockey locally for the Hibbing Riggio Flyers claiming, “There was no future in hockey in them days.”
The streets in town were renamed in 1982 after fallen Taconite servicemen from WWI through Vietnam.
Holman Lake, with its pristine, deep water, is a groundwater-flooded inactive mine south of town. It has a public beach and boat launch.
Buckeye Lake north of town is composed of sixteen inactive mines that have flooded with groundwater to form a five-mile-long lake. The only public access was in Coleraine, but possible resumption of mining resulted in the closure of the access for now.
Tip: There is a moving Veterans’ Memorial at Phillips-Johnson Memorial Park on Hodgins Ave. It lists all Taconite service members who served their country in all wars from WWI through Vietnam.
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.
Taconite was part of United States Steel’s original Canisteo Mining District administered by the Oliver Mining Company. District development began in 1907 and Oliver Mining built the town of Taconite for workers so that workers at the Holman Mine (south of town) could live close to work. Workers rented the houses from the company. Oliver Mining also built infrastructure and a school. Residents started other businesses. The town incorporated April 20, 1909 and was named for the low grade ore on which the town was built.
Oliver Mining operations ceased in 1925. Mesaba Cliffs Mining began operations in 1933. Cliffs also rented out the homes. In 1951, Cliffs began selling the homes. The last car of ore was shipped in November of 1980.
During Christmas, Taconite was called the prettiest decorated village on the range according to the Itasca Iron News in 1925.
The Old Village Hall (now gone) was a hub of activity and entertainment with silent movies and vaudeville performers such as Judy Garland’s parents from Grand Rapids. It also served as a hospital during the 1918 flu epidemic.
Taconite citizens revered two sports; hockey and baseball, but it was in hockey that they gained national fame winning the senior men’s national amateur championship in 1969. Over the course of eighty years, the senior men’s team were national champions, national runners-up, three-time state champions, and four-time state runners up. When Greenway (Coleraine) high school hockey began in the mid-fifties and became a dominant team well into the 60’s, many of the players were from Taconite.
The annual Taconite Fire Dept. Summer Bash & Car Show is held the last Saturday in June.
A tavern in town serves beverages, pizza, sandwiches.
The Mesabi Trail™ has been funded in part by the LCCMR and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.