Man Made Grand Canyon

Minnesota and specifically the area referred to as the Iron Range, is the largest producer of iron ore and taconite  in the United States. Taconite is a lesser iron ore that is pretty much what’s left in the state, and more than 44 million tons are shipped every year.

However, it’s the unnatural beauty of the iron range that brought us to the region. We had heard about the “Mineview in the Sky” in Virginia, MN on a few websites and each could only describe it as a smaller Grand Canyon. After seeing it today, I doubt I have any additional words to describe this unnatural physical wonder.

The Mineview in the Sky is a viewing platform positioned above the former location for the Rouchieau Group of mines. The pit is almost three miles long, a 1/2 mile wide and as deep as 450 feet in some spots, and has, over time, been reclaimed by rainwater to create a beautiful green and blue lake that fills most of the crater.

Strip mining has many environmental drawbacks – water drain off issues, top soil adjustments, tree cover loss. But, honestly, looking at this deep dug crater, seeing the strip mine markings and the obvious effects of man,  I’d have to say that I find it infinitely more visually appealing than the shopping centers, factories and skyscrapers that we more traditionally have used to decorate the landscape.

For Northern Minnesota, it’s an interesting, and inadvertent, juxtaposition of the state’s industrialized history and their breathtaking nature – a professional landscaper or architect would’ve had a hard time putting together these views.