Longyear Drill Site
Longyear Drill Site

In 1890, Edmund J. Longyear took charge of the first Iron Range drilling operation in Township 59, Range 14 near what is now the city of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. This was his introduction to the great iron producing area of northern Minnesota, which became home to tens of thousands of immigrants and the producer of millions of tons of iron ore. Few men, if any, contributed more to early Mesabi iron ore exploration than Edmund J. Longyear. The resulting E.J. Longyear Company expanded to become an international leader in the field of diamond core manufacturing, usage, and mineral exploration.

In 1976 the Iron Range Historical Society reconstructed Longyear’s first drill site 3.5 miles north of Hoyt Lakes on St. Louis County Road 666. Authentic diamond drilling equipment is in place. The drill site is registered as both a State and National Historic Site. A turnout and parking area is provided for visitors. There is an information booth to direct people to a wilderness nature trail leading to the exploratory drill site. In 2011 the East Range Lions Club, at the request of IRHS, refurbished the information booth. The site is now maintained by the City of Hoyt Lakes and the Hoyt Lakes Garden Club.

Longyear Site 10-2-2010
Longyear Site 10-2-2010

Preserved at the site is the beginning of a new era in mineral exploration. Longyear’s steam engine drove its diamond-bitted drill to a depth of 1,293 feet. Equipment on site includes a Sullivan Model “H” Drill, which held the diamond bits that rotated to drill and core the earth; a Cameron #3 Steam Water Pump, which was used to cool the diamond bits; a Churn Buck used to drive down the drill castings, and a Vertical Steam Boiler which delivered power to the drill. Core samples and an original diamond drill bit are held by the Iron Range Historical Society.

Eventually, Mr. Longyear directed the exploration of more than 7,100 test pit and diamond drill holes across the length of the Mesabi Range, hauling his equipment along the notorious Mesabi Trail from Babbitt to Grand Rapids. He located ore bodies for a number of mines: St. James, Stephens, Miller, Mohawk, Embarrass Lake, Pillsbury, Longyear, Webb, Kerr, Buffalo, Susquehanna, Dunwoody, Leetonia, Stevenson, Bennett, St. Paul, Alexander, Aromac, Sargent, Hawkins, Harrison, Holman, Buckeye, and Canisteo. He also platted several communities near these mines, including Aurora; Chisholm; Keewatin; Nashwauk; and Bovey.

In 2016, the Longyear Drill Site became a Poke Stop in the very popular Pokemon Go application. The drill site is also a geocache location. Anyone may access the site at 6500 County Road 666 but please be careful crossing the railroad tracks on your way to the drill site.

Edmund J. Longyear Monument

E.J. Longyear Monument
E.J. Longyear Monument

In 1990, the Boart-Longyear Company, now based in Utah, celebrated its 100th anniversary in Hoyt Lakes and around the world. After a public tour of the drill site, Iron Range Historical Society member Reinhold Holmer presented a bronze plaque to Hoyt Lakes Mayor Jerry O’Donnell to be installed in the turnout area. In 1992, the plaque was mounted in a permanent marker, designed by Mr. Holmer, at the entrance to the drill site.


IRHS Time Vault
IRHS Time Vault

On September 11, 1976, the Iron Range Historical Society buried a 100-year Time Vault at the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board Center and the former Minnesota Highway Patrol Headquarters (near the Tufco Tire Company) south of Eveleth, Minnesota, just off U.S. Highway 53. The vault was landscaped and buried Indian mound style, in the manner of the prehistoric Indian mounds that are found in the area. This vault, to be opened in the year 2076, is an example of preserving our heritage for those who come after us. There are thousands of items in the Iron Range Historical Society Time Vault, itemized in a book held at the Iron Range Historical Society’s office. Contributions were received from local governments, community organizations, churches, schools, businesses and individuals, as well as contributions from prominent personalities at the local, state, and national level, including President Gerald R. Ford. The vault and all it represents is a compliment to the Iron Range all through the region. Contributions include family histories; black and white photographs; commemorative booklets; recollections of our historic past; catalogs; phone books; newspapers; pamphlets; booklets and brochures prepared by churches, communities, organizations and companies; Bicentennial medals and coins; and predictions for the next 100 years. In addition, several early timbering and mining pioneers related their memories of the beginnings of the Iron Range.

The following communities are represented with items in the Time Vault:

Aurora Keewatin
Babbitt Kelly Lake
Biwabik Kinney
Bovey Makinen
Buhl Markham
Chisholm Mountain Iron
Coleraine Nashwauk
Cook Orr
Ely Palo
Embarrass Saint Louis County
Eveleth Tower
Hibbing Soudan
Hoyt Lakes Virginia