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Finns have always made up about a quarter of the total. It should also be stated, however, that all the Finns in the area have not lived in Mt. Iron itself, but that there have also been others at nearby Leonidas and above all in the nearby countryside.

Around the Leonidas Mine, out of which 21,454,608 tons of ore had been dug out by 1956, a town grew up in the latter years of World War I, and it, too, was named Leonidas. A Finnish Aid Committee was active there at the beginning of World War II, under the chairmanship of Jack Lintula.


Missabe Mountain Township lies east of Nichols, which was organized in 1892 out of wilderness, out of which have developed four population centers: Virginia, Eveleth, Franklin and Gilbert. If one were to say that Mt. Iron is the beginning and end of Mesabi, then Missabe Mountain is its heart.

The first discoveries of ore at the place where the city of Virginia later rose, were made in March 1892 by John C. Cohoe, employed at that time by the Merritts. The lode lay at a depth of about 13 feet. Whereas the Merritt brothers had founded the Missabe Mountain Iron Company a couple of months earlier and had been prepared to spend up to $150,000 in locating ore, it cost them only $41. It was at a time when the Pittsburgh steel manufacturer Henry W. Oliver happened to be in Minneapolis, and since there had been much talk of the new iron finds in Minnesota, Oliver decided to investigate in person. He set out with two other men from Pittsburgh, C. D. Fraser and George T. Tener but when they reached the Cincinnati mine, Fraser and Tener had had enough and refused to go farther, while Oliver continued on as far as the Missabe Mountain mines. He was deeply impressed by the new discoveries, and he offered the Merritts 65c royalties per ton of ore for the privilege of mining the find for 10 years. The Merritts accepted gladly. In 1893 there were 123,015 tons of ore dug, but after this first year Oliver succeeded in getting the Rockefeller controlled Lake Superior Consolidated Iron Mines, to which the Merritt interests had meantime passed, to lower the per-ton royalty to 25c, plus another 25c for tax payments. That year (1894) there were 505,955 tons produced. However, in spite of the great reserves, by 1917 only about 3,000,000 tons had been excavated. Toward the end of World War I the pace quickened, and in another two years an additional 2,500,000 tons had been mined. Even this was only a beginning, for the


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