30 Years Ago This Tiny Minnesota Town Was On My Bus Route, Now It’s A Ghost Town
My dad and I drove up to where we grew up on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. We were going to put some flowers at the Aurora Cemetery when we decided to take a little detour and see how much things have changed over the years.
We were driving Highway 135 from Gilbert to Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. Every few miles there's a small town along the way.
That's because back when the mines were formed, the mining companies built towns for the workers and their families to live in that were within walking distance of the actual mines. This was before cars and modern transportation, so it made sense. What happens when those mines close? Some towns have managed to survive, while others have become ghost towns.
After we drove through Biwabik, we noticed there was a new gravel pit on the side of the road that seem to go right up to another small community called Pineville. When I was a kid, our school bus route actually went through Pineville and I remember there being a bunch of kids that would get on at the stop. I wondered if the little town was still there, so we took the turn up the road on another detour on our trip down memory lane.
It didn't look like what I remembered as a kid. There were still a few people living there, but most of the homes were boarded up.
Years ago there was a grocery store and a bar, and it was a bustling community. Now it's just a couple of trailers, a few homes, and lots of empty lots. There also appears to be a pet grooming business called the Dawg Shack. They are still active on Facebook too!
Pineville is located near several iron ore pits. It's close to the old prospect 42 pit, the Embarrass Mine, and the Bangor Mine. All of these mines have been closed for years.
I remember back in the 1990s there were still quite a few people living in Pineville, but now I only saw a couple of houses that looked like people were still living there.
The dirt streets have names like Carl Avenue, James Avenue, Walter Avenue, and others. There's still a stop sign in town too.
Just through the trees is the beautiful Quarry Golf Course that's operated by Giants Ridge Resort. In fact, the quarry is built around the old mine pits that Pineville workers walked to years ago.
My dad reminisced about the keggers they used to go to in the pit, which actually now is a lake after state funding made it possible.
Old mine pits make for some of the clearest bodies of water in the state. That's why so many of them are popular with scuba divers.
There's a lot of cool history on the Mesabi Iron Range. There are other forgotten towns and structures along the narrow strip of iron-rich land that stretches across the Arrowhead.