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Eveleth was nothing but a frontier settlement 75 years ago as seen in this picture taken around 1895. Pictured is Kimberly Avenue in "Old Town." The building on the right hand side looking south is the Adams Building, in which there was a clothing store. Upstairs, Dr. C. W. More had his office and apartment. The next building is Campbell & Talboys General Store. P. E. Dowling's Drug Store was on the corner. In the back, he had a printing shop, where he published the "Eveleth Star." On the left is Henry Hookwith's Saloon. Further down the street (the next two-story building) is a boarding house, one of the first buildings to be erected in Eveleth. Kimberly Avenue ran west across the creek up to the Vega Mine, later called the Cloquet Mine, and then the Number 2 Spruce Mine. These identifications were made by J. H. Hearding in 1945.
Eveleth's History Is Fascinating
Eveleth is located in the heart of the territory that was once fought over by the Chippewa and the Sioux Indian Tribes.
Erwin Eveleth first came to this area in the 1880's in search of timber. He represented the group Robinson, Flinn, Murphy, and Dorr. He reported that his compass needle went wild due to the iron formations. This led to the reservation of mineral rights when the timber was sold. A cyclone passed over the Mesabi Range in 1890, uprooting many huge pine trees and exposing some iron deposits. Mining then began, and so did the town of Eveleth.
The first plot of the village of Eveleth was filed with the Register of Deeds on April 22, 1893. Then, on June 9, 1893, a petition signed by 30 was presented to the county commissioner asking for permission to incorporate. An election was ordered for July 25 to see if a majority of the 200 people in the area wanted to incorporate. The voters decided to incorporate, so notice was given for legal voters to meet and elect officers on August 26, 1893, but apparently, this election was not held. Martin Van Buskirk became the president of Eveleth on October 25, 1893.
After these early mining leases, the colorful story of the town included hastily formed mining companies, ignored land owners' rights, and woods full of prospectors. With the coming of 1894, there were three mines in operation: St. Clair (Vega), operated by George A. St. Clair, the Adams and the Fayal.
Eveleth's original location was in a valley surrounded by forests extending to the south and east for many miles. No work had been done on the streets, but most of the timber had been removed. A road had been cut out of the timber over the hill from Virginia. The stumps had not been removed, but shallow ditches had been dug on each side for drainage. There was a spring on the top of the hill from which clear water flowed. It was a popular watering place for man and beast.
Eveleth owes much of its early progress to Dr. C. W. More (left). He arrived here in June of 1894, walking from Virginia by way of a mine trail through the woods. He moved into a deserted saloon building. After the erection of the second hospital, his combination home and office was used as a harness shop, and then as a dwelling place at 424 Jones Street.
In August of 1894, there was a typhoid epidemic because of the impure water being used. All of the cases recovered, but by the end of September, Dr. More was infected and taken to Duluth for hospitalization.
The first church services to be conducted in Eveleth are believed to have been held by Reverend D. J. Gary, a Methodist minister, during the summer of 1894. Rev. Gary came from Virginia and held services in the rear of Dowling's Drug Store. Regular services began the following year.
Activity In Early History
BUILDINGS IN 1894
The sale of lots and buildings increased in 1894. The townsite was owned by the Duluth Mining Investment Company. Lots were sold for $125-$300. By this time, there were several buildings being constructed. The McInnis Hotel, on the corner of Grant Avenue and Jackson Street was managed by Charles Jesmore. The stove on the second floor had to heat three rooms, and the only method of approach to the second floor was by a steep stairway in the back. Water had to be carried up in pails. Another two story building housed P. E. Dowling's drug store and Nick Cavanaugh's clothing store. The Investment Company had a building which housed a bank and mining office downstairs and other offices upstairs. J. W. Falk was clearing his lot for a meat market at this time.
On February 1, 1895, a Board of Health was established. Members of the board were: John Grey, Byron J. McCormick, and Dr. H. L. Darms (who had come from McKinley to replace Dr. More during his illness.) Dr. More was appointed physician for the Adams Mine by W. J. Olcott, for the railroad by Mr. Ellsburg, and temporarily for the Fayal Mine after he recovered from the fever. For a hospital Dr. More found an empty one-story building which had not been completed, so he did the rest of the necessary work himself. This served as a hospital until it was moved to a new building which was warmer and was plastered.
Getting Clean Water Was A Big Problem
Eveleth had much trouble getting clean water
for its citizens. At first, water was taken from the muddy creeks and from
the Spruce Mine. Some people even carried their water all the way from the
spring on the hill between Eveleth and Virginia.
Forest Fire Menace
Eveleth was certainly more fortunate than many other towns around the area concerning fires. Hinckley and Virginia are just two of the towns that suffered devastatingly from fires. Nevertheless, during the early years of Eveleth's existence, forest fires were a constant menace. In the spring of 1895, the city council ordered all trees and brush within a radius of 250 feet from the town were to be cut, piled and burned as a safety precaution. Then, on June 3, a Volunteer Fire Company was established. Its members agreed on the following fees: $1.00 for the first hour of any call and 50¢ after that for each additional hour. The company held its first annual ball on October 14, 1895, with Major A. P. Goss as master of ceremonies. Fire Chief William Ellsworth, in 1902, bought new mockingbird whistles and four new fire alarm boxes to be put near the D & I. R. Depot, the More Hospital, and at the corner of Jackson Street and Adams Avenue.
Town Moved From Original Location
In 1895, Adams realized that the town should be moved because its present location hindered the mining. The old town's boundaries were: North Street on the north, Fayal Road on the south, and Kimberly, Carey, Ruth and Rachel Avenues. The new town boundaries, which were filed on August 31, 1896, were: Jackson Street on the north, Fayal Road on the south, Adams Avenue on the east and Douglas Avenue on the west.
The owners of the mineral rights paid for the moving expenses. All property owners wanted not only better locations, but bonuses for moving. In August, 1899, the first building was moved. A total of 107 buildings were moved an average distance of one-fourth of a mile. At that time, the population of the town was 1,200-1,500. James H. Flinn, who happened to be visiting Eveleth at the time the buildings were being moved, was responsible for the installation of a steam hoist on Adams Avenue. It snaked buildings up the hill faster than with windlass and rollers.
Fabiola Hospital Became Fayal Apartments
In 1899, the Minnesota Iron Company built
a hospital for its employees at the Fayal, Genoa, and Auburn Mines. It was
located on the corner of Fayal Road and Fayal Avenue. The superintendent
of Fayal at this time was G. W. Wallace, and Dr. W. E. Harwood was the company
doctor. Dr. Frederick Barret assisted at the hospital. The newly built hospital
was very modern for its day. It had a spacious reception room and office,
modern operating and drug rooms, and a basement with a kitchen, dining room,
and nurses quarters.
FIRST VILLAGE HALL
The first village hall in Eveleth was a two-story frame building erected at a cost of $656. The first floor housed the Volunteer Fire Department and the second floor contained the council chambers. When the town was moved, this building was moved to its present spot on Pierce Street.
Frank McCormick was contracted to build an electric plant. He later sold it to James W. Falk and Charles W. Webster. Falk then sold his shares to Webster.
It is interesting to note the salaries of the village officers at this time. The president received $10 monthly, the recorder, $25. The street commissioner received $2.50 per day for "actual services." The marshal was paid $75; the deputy, $60; water works engineer, $75. The janitor in the Village Hall received $30 per month including the lighting of the street lamps. Unskilled laborers made $1.75 per day.
In 1898, the Mesaba Telephone Company was organized by the Talboys, Frank R. Campbell and Dr. More. They had telephone poles erected in Sparta, Virginia, and Eveleth, originally for their own private use. The switchboard was in Talboys and Campbell's Store. In May of 1899, the company incorporated and included 0. D. Kinney of Duluth. At this time, there were 20 telephones in use and in 1900, there were 70. As time passed, the company expanded until it was too big; it was then merged into Northwestern Bell Telephone Company.
EVELETH AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
The town was considered a "melting pot" because men from Europe would come to work in the mines during the mining season and then return to the old country. In 1900, the population of Eveleth was 2,752. It was larger than Virginia, but Virginia had to rebuild after a fire and was to experience another fire before the year was through. During this fire, Eveleth people helped Virginians by giving food, shelter and clothing to those whose property was destroyed in the fire. In September, 1901, there was some excitement when the powder house at Spruce location exploded. The blast broke most of the windows in the town, and the flying glass cut people. Eveleth's population jumped up to 3,500 in 1901.
A. P. Goss's first bank was purchased by O. D. Kinney. In 1900, G. A. Whitman from Tower established a bank on the corner of Grant Avenue and Monroe Street. (This block was known as the Kingston Block.) In 1901, the First National Bank of Eveleth was created with the merger of Kinney's and Whitman's banks.
In June of 1902, M. E. Nichols, of Talboys Company, instigated a movement for shorter working hours for clerks. The complaint was against the 15 hour working day; some stores stayed open until 10:00 P.M. They succeeded in getting stores to close at 9:00 instead of 10:00.
There were 40 saloons, 2 hospitals, 2 schools, 16 teachers, 1,100 pupils and 131 telephones in Eveleth in 1902. Numbers were now used instead of names when telephoning.
J. C. Poole was Eveleth's first postmaster. From 1903 until 1936, the post office was located on Jones Street. In 1936, the present Post Office building was completed. It served 4,000 in its earliest days.
On May 2, 1903, a shipment of books for children arrived from the Northern Library Association via Duluth. The books were loaned from the "Mining News" office from 8:00-12:00 every day except Friday and Saturday. The present library opened for service on July 1, 1914.
OPENING OF McNEIL HOTEL
The grand opening of the McNeil Hotel was a gala affair which took place on May 8, 1903.
Peter Pastoret's stage line, drawn by four horses moved between Eveleth and Virginia. In 1911, J. H. McWhirter ran the first auto taxi. By 1913, there were street cars running between Range towns.
The "Locomobile" was purchased from Virginia by A. B. Coates, D. W. Freeman, D. Bailey and Chris Johnson. This was the first car in town. In September of 1902, the council passed Ordinance 45, limiting autos to 4 miles per hour in the city. The first autos for residents appeared in May of 1907.
In September of 1903, the businessmen of Eveleth met and elected J. C. Poole chairman of their group. They organized the Businessmen's Association. with J. H. Hearding, President, C. E. Bailey, Vice President, Solomon Sax, Secretary, and J. A. Robb, Treasurer. The club favored a cemetery, pure water supply and good roads. In 1910, the name was changed to the Eveleth Commercial Club. This was the predecessor of the present Chamber of Commerce.
The Missabe Mountain Township Hall was built on the northeast corner of Adams and Garfield in 1905. It was a two-story, red brick building, which was wired for electricity and had a steam heating plant in its basement. The building was sold to the Masonic Lodge in 1910, and was remodeled.
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