Chisholm (population appx. 5,000) originally drew settlers to the area in the 1880s for timber and logging, but the population and number of towns grew quickly when iron was discovered. Chisholm was formed as a town in 1901 and quickly grew in population—the town eventually had nearly 500 buildings including a bank and railway branch, and the population reached its peak in the 1920s with more than 10,000 people.
In the early days, the iron ore from this area was some of the richest and most pure in the United States, and the ore was located very close to the surface of the earth. The iron from this area was shipped throughout the country and helped build the metal frameworks of early skyscrapers in New York and other cities across the United States. Today, although the mines employ fewer people, mining remains an important industry in Chisholm and communities along the Iron Range. Tourism, fishing, hunting, and lake sports are also important throughout the region.
Minnesota Discovery Center is a nonprofit institution and the largest museum complex in Minnesota outside of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Comprised of a Museum, Research Center, and Park that encompasses 660 acres, Minnesota Discovery Center tells the story of the Iron Range – “The Land, The Mines, The People, and The Work” – through exhibits, interpretation, programming, and research materials. The Center highlights the story of the predominantly European immigrants who migrated to this region at the turn of the 20th century to find work in the burgeoning iron ore industry. Based in Chisholm, Minnesota Discovery Center serves communities throughout the Iron Range, and you will visit nearby towns such as Hibbing (where Bob Dylan grew up), Virginia, Eveleth, Palo, and others.