Original shaft at the Zenith Mine. The mining crew received the Centennials of Safety Award( center). The statue is a mother and child waiting for their loved ones to come home safely from the mine. Photo courtesy of Ely-Winton Historical Society
Pioneer Mine In Ely
Back in the 60's this is what it looked like in the Pioneer MIne of Ely. This mine was noted for it's highly oxygenated iron ore and closed in 1967. This mine was responsible for producing 188 million tons of iron used in armaments responsible for winning World War II. Note the shoring timber used to hold the roof up and also note the "drifts" (side tunnels? that collapsed under the weight of the rock. This shoring timber came from the region now known as the BWCA which was clearcut in the early 1900's to provide logs like you see in the photos, some of them snapped like twigs. New mining technology of today vastly improves safety for miners and the surface envrionment.
The Pioneer Mine closed in 1967. Also in 1967, metallurgical tech made a leap and discovered a way to blast oxygen directly into a pellet furnace making it possible to oxygenate lower quality taconite into higher quality ore. At that point, the need for the dangerous and often deadly work of underground iron mining faded into history and taconite became the standard on the Range.