Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
School of Education
Calvin W. Gower
Charles W. Emery
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Hardship has almost always been a part of the exploration and settlement of any area, and the hardships endured by the settlers of the Iron Range were in many ways no different from those experienced in other areas of a like nature. It is not the intent of this writer to show that the people of the Iron Range suffered any more or any less than the pioneers in other areas; it is only an attempt to set down for posterity some factual evidence to show that we do owe a great amount of respect and admiration to the pioneers of the Iron Range, and that what we have today did not come about without the usual amount of sweat, blood, and tears.
The study was concerned primarily with those years which saw the development of several thriving communities from a complete wilderness. Although the problems confronting the people in their effort to develop good communities had not all been overcome by the turn of the century, life had progressed to the point where new difficulties ceased to be so great, and these years do then represent an era of transition from a frontier society to an advanced degree of civilization. It is also a representative era showing what hardship and perils faced the pioneers in the development of a mining industry, how the people lived on a frontier, and under what conditions they worked. The study, then, was limited to those years immediately preceding the turn of the century, with some mention of pertinent items and instances from the years immediately following the turn of the century.
Generally, the study covered two major topics, working conditions and living conditions. The working conditions studied were confined to three major areas; namely, working conditions in the mines, working conditions in the construction of the railroads, and working conditions in the lumbering industry. The primary emphasis, however, was placed upon working conditions in the mines since this involved the greatest number of people.
The Iron Range encompasses a large area of Minnesota, extending as far south as Randall, as far west as Grand Rapids, and as far north as the Gun Flint area which extends into Canada. There are three distinct iron ore ranges in this area--the Cuyuna, the Mesabi, and the Vermilion. The Vermilion was the first to be developed, the Mesabi, the second, and the Cuyuna, the last.
The Vermilion was chosen as the area of concentration. To cover the entire Iron Range would be a work of great magnitude, and not in the interests of the writer or of the people who would be concerned. Just as the period of time covered was representative of the development of the iron industry in Minnesota, so also the Vermilion can be considered as being representative of development of the Iron Range as a whole. Since the Vermilion was the first of the ranges to be developed, it represented the real frontier of the iron mining industry, and as such it was almost imperative that this be the area of concentration. Then too, since the writer has been a resident of the Vermilion for the past number of years, the study had the greatest significance to him and to the people for whom he has profound respect and admiration.
Schulzentenberge, Anthony C., "Life on the Vermilion Range before 1900" (1963). Culminating Projects in Teacher Development. 4.