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Buhl Minnesota History



Springs of Health and Pits of Wealth

Buhl (1,500 alt., 1,600 pop.), one of the progressive smaller mining communities of the western Mesabi, might well have been a Town Pump, for it boasts the "best drinking water in the United States," and, from reports of visitors, it is undoubtedly justified.

Although mining operations had begun on the western Mesabi in 1890, the iron-ore fever did not reach the vicinity of Buhl until some time later. Logging operations began in 1898, and in 1900 timber cruisers and loggers still were working in the region's stands of white and Norway pine. As they cleared the way, iron-ore prospectors appeared, and, in March, 1900, the Sharon Ore Company platted the 40-acre town site that was recorded as the "Plat of Buhl," in honor of Frank H. Buhl, a former president of the company. The new town was given encouragement when the Great Northern Railroad extended its line from Swan River. In 1901, Buhl was incorporated as a village.

Birdseye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Birdseye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Mining forged ahead as the chief industry. Men from many countries came to work in the mines, and today ten nationalities are represented. Of the foreign-born, Yugoslays, Scandinavians, and Italians predominate. There are eight mines, most of them open pits. Only one, the Grant Mine, is operating at present.

The largest mine, the Wabigon (inactive), holds a record of low-cost operation. In three seasons, it was stripped of the overburden and 500,000 tons of ore by electric drag lines, with an average daily crew of five men, each handling approximately 250 tons per day. This was the first open pit on the Mesabi to be electrified, and its shovel, with a dipper capacity of 14 tons, was the largest ever used in an open pit.

In recent years, many of the miners have begun to farm, and much dairying is carried on in the surrounding area.

With the money derived from its mineral wealth, Buhl has erected modern municipal buildings and installed excellent public utilities. The Martin Hughes High School (cor. Jones Ave. and Wanless St.) is an imposing structure. The central part was constructed in 1911, and the two wings in 1918; the total cost was $1,750,000. The Martin Hughes High School is under the jurisdiction of School District 35, which includes Kinney (see Kinney), employs 40 teachers, and has an enrollment of 900.

Buhl High School, Buhl Minnesota, 1920
Buhl High School, Buhl Minnesota, 1920
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Fire Hall (cor. Johns Ave. and Forest St.), of brick and tile, one of the least expensive—it cost only $32,000—but most attractive public buildings in Buhl, also serves as a community center and provides public rest rooms, American Legion club quarters, Boy Scout rooms, and an auditorium.

The Public Library (Jones Ave. bet. Franz and Sharon Sts.) was built in 1917 of tapestry brick with terra cotta trimmings. The interior, finished in silver-gray oak, is decorated with two murals by Charles Rosenkranz. The library owns 14,850 volumes and receives 85 periodicals, and, in a district with a population of but 2,000, it has approximately 1,300 registered borrowers.

Buhl Public Library, Buhl Minnesota, 1918
Buhl Public Library, Buhl Minnesota, 1918
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Municipal Power Plant (cor. Jones Ave. and Mine St.) furnishes water and light and heats about 80 per cent of the buildings. Its pure, cold water, pumped from a 7oo-foot well, is free from the iron taste that is characteristic of most range water. St. Louis County Dispensary No. 2 (Jones Ave. bet. Sharon and Grant Sts.), built by Dr. A. W. Shaw and later bought by the county, distributes medical aid to the needy, but only emergency operations are performed.

Rose Tentoni, a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company, is native of Buhl.

The WPA Guide to the Minnesota Arrowhead Country, 1941


Business Street, Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Business Street, Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Catholic and Methodist Episcopal Churches, Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Catholic and Methodist Episcopal Churches, Buhl Minnesota, 1910
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Buhl Village Hall, Buhl Minnesota, 1920
Buhl Village Hall, Buhl Minnesota, 1920
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society



France Mine, Buhl Minnesota 1920's


Open Pit Mine at Buhl Minnesota, 1940
Open pit mine at Buhl, 1940
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Street Scene, Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Street Scene, Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Birds-eye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Birds-eye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Birds-eye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Birds-eye view of Buhl Minnesota, 1945
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

 

 

 
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