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Nashwauk Minnesota History

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Excerpted from

Nashwauk - From Timber to Taconite
The Story of Nashwauk Minnesota

Compiled by the 75th Anniversary Book Committee
Published 1978 by the Eastern Itascan, Nashwauk Minnesota


In three quarters of a century, two major industries have enveloped this northern community, "Timber to Taconite" is Nashwauk's history.

Small scale logging began as far back as 1880. Our area was originally a vast forest. Before early settlers could legally purchase timber claims, some sort of settlement had to be made with the Indians. The first Indians in this area were the Sioux, who later were driven out by the Chippewa. It is historically recorded that a trader by the name of Coran made friends with some of the Chippewas in the Nashwauk, Swan Lake and Goodland areas. In fact, Chief Lightfoot's tribe camped at Indian Point, Swan Lake, and also at O'Brien Brook, which now has been made into a tailing pond by the Hanna Mining Company.

Top picture shows horse loading and yarding" in the woods, the latter term meaning pulling loads together. These loads were hauled by the Sturgeon Timber Company with C.W. Latvala as manager. The trips were made between Sturgeon Lake and Alexander. Bottom picture illustrates a steam hauler pulling the pulpwood loads. This engine could haul a maximum of 12 loads, but generally carried 10. These two-tiered loads were 16 feet wide, and ran almost a carload of wood to each sleigh. The photographs were taken in 1912.
Top picture shows horse loading and yarding" in the woods, the latter term meaning pulling loads together. These loads were hauled by the Sturgeon Timber Company with C.W. Latvala as manager. The trips were made between Sturgeon Lake and Alexander. Bottom picture illustrates a steam hauler pulling the pulpwood loads. This engine could haul a maximum of 12 loads, but generally carried 10. These two-tiered loads were 16 feet wide, and ran almost a carload of wood to each sleigh. The photographs were taken in 1912.

As more and more timber was cut, lumber camps and lumberjacks spred throughout our wooded area. A few settlers as well as bigger companies, began culling the heavy growth of white and Norway pines around Nashwauk in 1890.

Logging was a job for the stouthearted, strong-armed man. There were fewer accidents in the old days probably because the men were well-trained. Men took great pride in being able to do a job without having or causing an accident. The only medicines used in the camps were liniment, castor oil, vaseline, ginger, cascara pills, carbolic salve, and later, aspirin tablets. If a man got a cut or a scratch, he would apply balsam pitch or a chew of peerless tobacco to it, and it would heal in a few days. Most camps had more medicine on hand for the horses than for the men. Good care of the horses was always a rule. Every camp, however small, had a blacksmith, known as the "iron man." Besides taking care of the horses, he also repaired the equipment. The lumberjacks were adequately cared for, well-fed, warmly dressed, and had suitable places to sleep. Most camps had saunas; and though bathroom facilities were outdoors, everything was kept as clean as possible.

Cutting wood in Nashwauk Minnesota in 1908 — site of former elementary school.
Cutting wood in 1908 — site of former elementary school.

Whenever a picture is shown of a large load of logs being hauled by a single or four-horse team, the question is asked, "How could just a few horses pull such a large load of logs?" The answer — a lot of effort was put into the laying out and maintaining of the ice roads for logging and into the construction of the sleighs. As lumbering increased work became more organized.

Choppers dropped trees, sawyers cut them into lengths, swampers cleared away the brush and small trees, loaders piled the logs on sleds, teamsters hauled them to the river bank, crews kept the logs moving down the rivers, and jam crews broke jams of piled up logs. Their job was to find the key log, yank it loose, so that the other logs could keep rolling. The sacking crew did the cold and dirty work of picking up stray logs that got hung up in the brush or caught on sand bars — often wading in muck and ice.

Pictured are teams of horses used in early logging operations near Nashwauk Minnesota
Pictured are teams of horses used in early logging operations in Nashwauk

In the early lumbering years, long iced roads were used to haul the logs to streams. Railroads had hauled lumber from the sawmills to the markets, but no one thought that logs could be hauled out of the woods by railroad. They were built, but were makeshift facilities. Derailment was not unusual; but while they lasted, the railroads hauled millions of logs out of our county.

The Wright Davis Company was operating around Nashwauk before 1900. The Smith Saw Mill Company of Minneapolis cut many trees between Nashwauk and Keewatin and down to Swan Lake. The Bovey-DeLaittre Company cut to the west and northwest of Nashwauk. The Power-Simpson Company of Hibbing operated to the north as far as Crooked Lake. For about ten years, thirty to fifty million board feet of pine were taken out of the Nashwauk area.

The very first logging camps in Minnesota were more or less family affairs, with brothers, cousins, or neighbors forming the crew. As camps moved further into the woods, men came from farms, homesteads and sawmill towns. By 1910 the big logging companies finished their work and dismantled their many camps around the Range towns. Within a few years a second crop of timber, such as spruce, balsam, cedar, tamarack and jackpine was being cut in quantities by smaller outfits. Small sawmills became quite numerous. The logging industry entered a new era, yielding to the new developments in our country. There was a great demand for paper and construction lumber. Mechanical equipment replaced hand labor. Since the fifties, logging has been completely mechanized. Trees are felled by shears and chain saws, skidded out of the woods by skidders with grapples or winches on them; yarded to landings in tree lengths. These are either cut into pulp, or fed into tree length chippers. Most wood is handled by hydraulic knuckle boom loaders mounted on trucks.

Axel Morency and Joe Gauvreau shown skidding logs near Nashwauk Minnesota
Axel Morency and Joe Gauvreau shown skidding logs.

The old logging camps which once dotted the Minnesota woods are gone. Most loggers commute daily to their logging operations from their homes.

The timber industry of Minnesota is the state's third largest industry. The logging of pine and spruce has given way to the harvesting of aspen. The loggers of today known as harvesters of Minnesota's tallest crop. They firmly believe that trees are a renewable resource.

Typical early logging camp, Nashwauk Minnesota
Typical early logging camp

One of the first logging firms in our area was Charles W. Latvala, succeeded by Latvala Brothers, Richard and Robert, with a permanent sawmill located at the site of the second Hawkins washing plant; Vincent Bianchini, succeeded by son, Peter, dissolved a few years ago; Alex Clusiau, succeeded by sons, Kenneth and Terrance, site seven miles north on Highway 65; Wayne Paakkonen, permanent sawmill, retired in 1978; Carl and Milton Manners built the Keewatin sawmill near Welcome Lake, later acquired by the late Roy A. Johnston and Carl Dahlberg, now retired. Other area firms are Chester Moellering, Bruce Tillotson, and Larry Haigh. A number of miners and farmers also harvest pulpwood as a side line.

The day will never come again when logs will jam the rivers or be piled high on sleighs. The glamorous days lumbering, the courage, the grit and hard work of the pioneers are gone. The trees are coming back again — are growing on hundreds of tree farms, on thousands of acres of state, county and industry owned lands. Tomorrow the trees will have grown and once again will tower high in the Nashwauk area.

Photograph shows early logging operation of a steam hauler pulling a load of logs.
Photograph shows early logging operation of a steam hauler pulling a load of logs.


As the first lumbering period neared its end, the farming area north of Nashwauk was rapidly developing. In 1915, farming lands were advertised at twelve to fifteen dollars per acre, two and one half to five miles north of Nashwauk on good roads. In 1916, farmers in the vicinity of Nashwauk started preliminary proceedings towards the organization of a Federal Loan Association to help in the development of farm lands to the north. The Cloverdale farm settlement had forty prosperous farmers in the 1920s, most of them dairy farmers. The majority of these farmers came in 1915-1918. J.J. Hansen is said to be the first farmer in this area. He came in 1913. The present Town Board officers (1978) are: Supervisors, Joseph Mazar, Larry Laakso, and Armas Yuhala; Clerk, Eben Henderson; and Treasurer, Mary Wright. Mr. Henderson has held this position for over forty years. Mr. Mazar has served 18 years as township supervisor.


Lumber first attracted men to the area, iron ore made them stay. It was these hard working people who dug out of the earth around Nashwauk, great holes, the Hawkins, LaRue, Crosby, Harrison, Quinn, Patrick, Kevin, and York mines. Hundreds of millions of dollars in payrolls have poured through the industrial channels of this community the past seventy-five years. This is credited to the vision, ingenuity, and creative ability of these early leaders in the mining industry that has brought us to the new threshold, that of the taconite industry.

The first operation at the Hawkins Mine in 1902 were underground with equipment as shown here.
The first operation at the Hawkins Mine in 1902 were underground with equipment as shown here.

One cannot write about the history of Nashwauk without mentioning the Hawkins mine, even though it is no longer in existence today. The first iron ore mine in Itasca County was opened in 1902 soon after the Great Northern Railway completed a railroad from Kelly Lake to Nashwauk. In the late fall of 1902 a spur was built to the mine. The McArthur Brothers were the contractors for stripping which began in 1903. Ed Brown brought the first steam shovel to the mine in 1903, and was its first operator. Ore was shipped that same year. Miners came and camps were set up. These camps were tarpaper shacks with crude conveniences.

The Hawkins ceased operations July 19, 1962, after sixty productive years. Exhaustion of the ore reserves necessitated the closing of the Hawkins mine operated by Cleveland Cliffs from 1947 until its closing. The mine had been one of the great producers on the Mesabi Range.

From the time the mine was first opened in 1902 by International Harvester Company up until 1962 approximately, twenty-five million tons of ore had been shipped from the Hawkins mine.

The discovery of the Hawkins reserve was made in 1900 by the Itasca Mining Company. At that time the property was held by the Deering-Harvester Company which later merged with the International Harvester.

The growth of Nashwauk from a fledging newly incorporated community of 220 people in the midst of a towering forest of virgin pines in 1902 to a modern village was largely due to the Hawkins and later on to several other mines in the adjacent area.

A washing plant was constructed in 1910-11, approximately two miles south of the mine, costing $700,000. It was the first in the Nashwauk area and one of the first of two such plants on the Western Mesabi Range. Captain Batchelder was an engineer in the first plant construction. and was later associated with the operation at the Hawkins mine The original plant was used until 1952 when Cleveland Cliffs constructed a new plant adjacent to the pit.

Standing on the observation platform on the western end of Central Avenue, looking into the now deserted, silent cavity which once bustled with activity, there comes to mind the saying "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" —but what happens to a mine — only time will tell.

The Hawkins plant, Nashwauk Minnesota, as it appeared in 1957
The Hawkins plant, Nashwauk Minnesota, as it appeared in 1957

North Bank of the Hawkins Mine, Nashwauk Minnesota, October, 1957.
North Bank of the Hawkins Mine, Nashwauk Minnesota, October, 1957.

Cleveland Cliffs was only a season behind International Harvester. Both began sinking shafts about the same time. Cleveland Cliffs opened the Crosby, and the LaRue Mining Company opened the LaRue mine in 1903. Two years later Hanna Mining took over the LaRue. This mine was first an underground, then an open pit.

Hawkins shop about 1919-1920 — Hawkins mine did locomotive repair for Winston Deere.
Hawkins shop about 1919-1920 — Hawkins mine did locomotive repair for Winston Deere.

Butler Brothers made their first entry into the area in 1908 when they contracted to strip the LaRue, an underground property here. Butlers had their headquarters in the Nashwauk area until 1948 when Hanna Mining took over their operations.

In 1913 Butler Brothers took out their first leases in the Nashwauk area at the Quinn, Harrison, and North Harrison mines. The footings for the Harrison concentrator were poured in 1914. This same year Butlers first shipment of iron ore was made. The Quinn-Harrison together produced 206,080 tons in 1914.

More leases were acquired and another concentrator was built at the Patrick mine in 1917. A shop building was constructed at First Harrison in 1915. The first electric arc welding machine was introduced in the shops in 1925. In 1929 a mechanical department moved into a newly-erected ultra modem shop complete with locomotive pits, a twenty-five ton overhead traveling crane, central heating system, warehouse, and other modem up-to-date equipment. An electric shop and tire repair facilities were added later.

By 1940 large trucks had replaced the locomotives to such an extent that the pits were no longer needed. They were replaced by complete automotive maintenance equipment.

Butler properties in the Nashwauk area included: The Patrick-Kevin group: Kevin, Langdon 1929-1939; David, Patrick 1917; Ann 1929; West Patrick 1933; Patrick Annex.

The Kevin was the first to be opened in this group with shipment of iron ore made in 1916. The Patrick concentrator was erected in 1917. When jigs were installed in the Patrick plant in 1929 a large quantity of low grade ore material was made available for concentration.

The Kevin was the first mine to be converted from steam haulage to truck haulage in the fall of 1937. In 1941 a screening plant was installed in the pit, and conveyor belts delivered' the ore to the surface. In 1942 conveyor belts were extended to the Patrick plant. This eliminated locomotive haulage entirely.

Harrison Group: Quinn, Harrison 1914; North Harrison 1915; Harrison Annex, North Harrison Annex 1925; Halobe 1930; Snyder 1935; Mace No. 2.

This group operated with steam shovels and locomotives until 1930. That year the first electric shovel was set up at the Harrison group. By 1938 pit haulage was changed to truck

The Harrison concentrator, constructed in 1914, was the first Butler Brothers washing plant. It later became a cone and double classification unit.

Galbraith Group: Galbraith, Carol, LaRue (in former years the Shada). The lease on the Galbraith and Carol mines was acquired in 1933. These properties were held in reserve until the fall of 1940. Washing and screening plants and conveyor galleries were built between October 1, 1940 April 1, 1941.

This group was the first of Butler Brothers mines to use truck haulage exclusively as a means of transportation. At this mine the plant was built near the crest of the pit making possible to use conveyor belt haulage from the pit directly to the plant. In the fall of 1940 screening plants were placed in all pits. The Galbraith was noted as a proving ground for many new and novel ideas.

A variety of mining methods and equipment has been used from the early pick and shovel, horse and wagon, coal and steam equipment, to the present day giant electric shovels, huge rubber-tired hundred-ton diesel electric haulage trucks powerful bulldozers, endless conveyor belts and rotary drills to bring us up to the latest mining method — taconite.

The taconite industry in Minnesota actually had its beginning many years ago when foresighted men saw that the natural ores would eventually be exhausted, leaving only the low grade taconite rock. With this in mind, geologists,  researchers, operators and management all joined hands to create the latest and necessary phase of the mining industry.

With the passage of the Taconite Amendment in November, 1964, Butler Taconite began its site preparation immediately afterwards. Actual construction got underway the following spring, and the plant was turned over for operation in April, 1967.

Butler Taconite is owned jointly by The Hanna Mining Company, Inland Steel Company, and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation. Hanna Mining Company is the operating agent at Butler Taconite, located just west of Nashwauk on Highway 169.

The magnetic taconite ore bodies, located in the Patrick Langdon group of mines, are mined by conventional open pit methods. The crude taconite is then carried on a three thousand foot long conveyor belt to the ore storage building. The storage building has a capacity of 120,000 tons. The taconite is moved to the adjacent concentrator building for grinding and separation of iron and waste. Then in the pelletizer building pellets are formed, dried, pre-heated, and heat hardened at 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The pellets are discharged into a revolving cooler, screened and then moved to the pellet loadout stockpile area for shipment by unit train to the ore docks at Superior.

Butler Taconite is now producing quality taconite pellets at a 2.65 million long ton annual rate.

Improvements in plant capacity and product quality has been made almost continuously since the initial plant construction.

Top management positions at The Hanna Mining offices in Hibbing include: E. J. Maney, General Manager, Domestic Iron Ore Division; K.R. Kuehlthau, Assistant General Manager, Domestic Iron Ore Division; LeRoy Anderson, General Superintendent, National Steel Pellet Company; George Kotonias, General Superintendent, Butler Taconite.

Personnel at Butler Taconite in addition to Mr. Kotonias are: Jack H. Morrow, Mine Superintendent; Robert C. Anderson, Plant Superintendent; Thomas S. Chanak, Maintenance Superintendent; Leon E. Rostvold, Supervisor of Safety and Labor Relations; Joseph M. Shea, Purchasing Agent; Peter K. Koskinen, Superintendent of Planning and Technical Services; Earl W. Bedard, Accounting Supervisor; William W. Waite, Safety Engineer.

Old LaRue Location
Old LaRue Location

York Mine

The York Mine opened in 1916. In 1942 operations were changed from steam and locomotive to gas shovels and trucks.

The York mine was taken over in 1947 by the Pacific Isle Mining Company with Tait Siebenthal as general superintendent and John Sandberg, acting superintendent. The mine ceased operations here about 1954, and Pacific Isle operations were moved to Mt. Iron.

A picture of the Crosby mine in early 1900's — one of the location houses is pictured at right
A picture of the Crosby mine in early 1900s — one of the location houses is pictured at right

Lerch Brothers

Lerch Brothers history goes back to the early days with the Hawkins mine. Harry Olson, who replaced Axel Hermanson in 1915 served as chemist in charge until his death in 1954. Louis Swedberg and George Luckow later served in this capacity. Lerch Brothers built a new building at Cooley and moved its laboratory there from the Hawkins mine site in December, 1956. This building was sold and moved in 1973 to make way for the new four-lane highway. All operations on the western end of the Mesabi Range were then consolidated at the main office building in Hibbing, where they operate today. Lerch Brothers expanded its interests into the water analysis field in 1970, and opened a water department at the Hibbing office building.

Old Patrick location which lay between the Patrick plant and Oxhide Lake
Old Patrick location which lay between the Patrick plant and Oxhide Lake.

Early Hawkins Mining Camp, Nashwauk Minnesota
Early Hawkins Mining Camp

Stripping in those days was sometimes a very rugged job. This muskeg was encountered in opening the LaRue Mine in 1908.
Stripping in those days was sometimes a very rugged job. This muskeg was encountered in opening the LaRue Mine in 1908.

Public Servants

Police Department

Records of the early police protection in Nashwauk are not available, but it is believed that service was organized almost from the beginning. Charles Palmquist was said to be the first chief of police.

Others who served in this capacity were Erick Forsberg, 1904: William Hayes, 1908, and 1914-1915; Thomas Hogan. 1912; Arthur White, 191 3 ; Thomas Riley, 1915­1921; Philip Griffin, 1921-1924 and 1927-1933; W.J. Trythall and Harry Corwin, 1925; Henry Henrickson, 1926; Earl Smith, 1933-1934.

Police deputies in Naskwauk Minnesota, 1916
Deputies pictured here in 1916. Among those who have been Identified are Bill Hayes, W.A. Gordon, T. T. Riley, Dan McGuire, John Burbie, Dan McMasters, Joe DePetro, Otto Lefte, Joe Scalise, John Koski, Dan Scannel, and Bill Crisp. Bill Hayes was the chief of police and T. T. Riley was the sheriff

Until 1936 the village had a number of police chiefs who intruded Albert Hagen, Charles Buccanero, William Colwell, Eli Yovetich, Carl McDowell, and Carl Carlson.

Ray DePetro was appointed chief in January, 1937, and served in this capacity continuously until his retirement in March 1964, 24 years of service.

Robert Burns served as chief from 1964 until December 31. 1975. when he retired. Mr. Burns commented that he had served under five different mayors and three county sheriffs during his seventeen years as patrolman and chief. He holds a life membership in the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers' Association.

Joseph Sarago served as acting chief until September 9, 1976, when Gary Clough was named Chief of Police. Mr. Clough started with the Carlton County sheriff's department as a part-time deputy and jail dispatcher. In 1969 he joined
the Austin Police Department and worked there for six and half years before coming to Nashwauk. Chief Clough received his training from the Bureau of Apprehension, St. Paul. He joined the Nashwauk Police Department June 1st, 1976, and worked as a patrolman until becoming chief. He and his wife and family reside in the former Peter Tarro home on Third Street. The city has four full-time patrolmen, Joseph Sarago, Don Stob, Gene Okerlund, and Mike Flatley.

1978 Nashwauk Minnesota Chief of Police Gary Clough

Chief of Police
Gary Clough
Civil Defense Director
Robert Fragnito

Civil Defense

Robert Fragnito is Nashwauk's Civil Defense Director. He has served in that capacity for the past three years.

Ray DePetro retireing from the Nashwauk Minnesota Police Department, 1964
Picture was taken March 14, 1964 when Ray DePetro retired from the Police Department. L. to R.: Sheriff John Muhar Itasca County; Ray DePetro, Retired Chief of Police; Robert Burns, Temporary Chief of Police.

Fire Department

The need of a Volunteer Fire Department became apparent shortly after the Village of Nashwauk was organized. Therefore on December 1, 1903, in the post office quarters, a meeting was held to organize a fire company for the "purpose of better preserving the property of the village from the danger of destruction by conflagration."

Upon the adoption of by-laws on December 15, fire fighting equipment was acquired; hand drawn hose carts and

hook and ladder. According to old timers it was quite a sight to see the fire lads with the fastest runners (4-10 men) grabbing the ropes and shaft in front of the cart and the slower and older men taking hold behind, sometimes hanging on giving added weight to those pulling the carts.

As the village kept expanding, the longer the runs to fires, the more stamina it took to get there. In 1914 the Department made arrangements to pay any automobile that arrived first at the fire hall to haul the apparatus to the site of the fire. The fall of 1916 saw the first motorized equipment secured by the Fire Department.

At first a bell rang to call the men out and as the village grew, the sound of the bell could not be heard by all firemen, so steam whistles were placed on the Water and Light Plant. Soon electric power replaced steam, and the alarms penetrated far and wide. Firemen responded in full force.

In 1917, the department organized the present Volunteer Firemen's Relief Association. First officers were: F.O. McCullough, C. J. Dicks, A.G. Larson, and J.P. Lanto.

Through the relentless efforts of Marshall B. Thornton, executive secretary of the Minnesota State Fire Department Association, the Minnesota State legislature passed a law allocating two per cent of all the fire insurance premiums collected in the State of Minnesota to the Volunteer Firemen's Relief Association throughout the state. Firemen's pensions, sickness, and disability benefits were greatly increased.

Nashwauk has had its scare of bad fires. Three buildings were destroyed in 1909 where the present liquor store is now; in 1923 the West Flats; and in 1942 the Nashwauk Hardware, Steve Stevens, Alex Jaffee and Domenick Perry building were destroyed with four families left homeless. Mine Fires: Hawkins Shop, Pearson mine logging pit and shaft and LaRue washing plant kept volunteers busy. In 1976 it took the full force more than forty-eight hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the International Baths building on Second Street.

In 1962 the village purchased a new John Bean fire truck, a combination of a 500 gallon pumper and high pressure fog.

Then, Chief Nick Dasovich, Peter Stupar, Albert Serra, and Louis Legueri traveled to Lansing, Michigan, for operating instructions and delivery of the new truck to Nashwauk.

The City of Nashwauk purchased another new John Bean fire truck with a 750 gallon pumper and high pressure fog in the fall of 1977 with the aid of Nashwauk township and Lone Pine township. The new truck is scheduled to arrive here by July 1, 1978.

At the present time there are twenty-one members on the department: Virgil Rostvold, Chief; Milton Latvala, Assistant Chief No. 1; Peter Saccoman, Assistant Chief No. 2; Joseph Calaguire, Secretary; Herbert L. Latvala, Treasurer; Buddy Grozdanich, James Aimonetti, Charles Ross, Max Benolken, Tony DePetro, Martin Stimac, Edward Bolf, David Savolainen, Maurice Williams, Ronald Sterle, Charles Bolf, Richard Martire, Ronald Woodman, Ernie Burns, Gary Sweeney, and Don Stob.

RETIRED FIREMEN: L. to R.: Joe DePetro, Pete Stupar, John Zauhar, Joe Codute, George Dasovich, I.L. Lazzaro, Walter Schlander, Nick Dasovich, Milton Englund, Sam Saccoman, Albert Serra, Joe Sarago, John Serra, Joe Marinaro, Ray Crea, Louis Leguire. Missing from picture: Ray DePetro, Louis Marter, John Zardo, Ernest Williams, Louis Sella, Walter Forsberg.

Looking over the roster of members from the past 75 years, names of businessmen, miners, doctors and lawyers are indelibly etched in log books as well as in the hearts and minds of area residents. There is something about the excitement and action of being a volunteer fireman and most of all, the expectancy of saving someone's life and property that keeps the interest "burning."


Mr. Rustan has practiced law in Nashwauk sixty years and is the only attorney here today. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1918. This same year he went into partnership with Harold W. Johnston, and they opened a law office in Nashwauk under the firm name of Johnston and Rustan, located upstairs of the Zagar building on Central Avenue. In 1925 his partner withdrew, and Mr. Rustan conducted his office alone. He moved his practice to the First National Bank building, and his office was there until 1969 when he moved to the Chellico building. Mr. Rustan has been listed in "Who's Who Among the Blind in Business and the Professional World."

M.B. Rustan, Nashwauk Minnesota
M.B. Rustan

Mr. Rustan's first wife, the former Sophia Watson, died in 1965. He was remarried to Beth Watson, who is also deceased.

Marshall B. Thornton practiced law in Nashwauk from 1930 until his death, December 1, 1968.

Active in church and community affairs, he served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, was a Charter Member and past president of the Lion's Club, a member of Range and State Bar Associations, and a past president of the Itasca County Bar Association. He was active in Red Cross work and served as director of the Northland Chapter. Marshall was a retired fireman and served as chief. At the time of his death Mr. Thornton was serving as secretary of the Minnesota State Fire Department Association, a position he held for fourteen years. He also served as legal counsel to the Association. Mr. Thornton served as school and village attorney for many years and was serving in that capacity when he died. He was also active in the Range Association of Municipalities. He married Bernice Ingersall of Hibbing in 1933. Members of the Thornton family include a son, Marshall Jr., Duluth; four daughters Mrs. John (Rosemary) Sella. Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mrs. Paul (Bernie) Moreen, Mora: Mrs. Gene P. (Jean) Malley, Pengilly, and Mrs. Thomas (Margaret) Benz, Watertown, Wisconsin.

Helen Hill Blanz practiced law in Nashwauk from 1968 until she went into partnership with Winton J. Mason July 1, 1974, in Grand Rapids. Mrs. Blanz served as city attorney from 1969 to 1974, at which time she stepped down to run for Itasca County Attorney. Mrs. Blanz, a Swan Lake resident, is presently serving in that capacity.

Other attorneys who have practiced in Nashwauk include: John C. Lewis, John Gannon, A.B. Dahl, Eugene Cassidy, and John J. Benton.


The health of the community was guarded well from the very early years with doctors and dentists serving the people in private practice or through clinics. An ordinance was passed by the village council in 1911 establishing a Board of Health in the village.

The first physician was Dr. Bertram S. Adams of Hibbing who was here in 1902 and constructed the first dispensary, a two room tar paper building on the site of the present Hawkins pit. Part of that first summer he made the trip on horseback and used a tent for his office. There were few houses in Nashwauk at that time.

Dr. James George joined Dr. Adams in 1903-1907. He was followed by Dr. Charles McMann, 1907-1909. Dr. John Shellman became associated with Dr. Adams in the Adams Clinic until Dr. Michael Hayes arrived in 1912.

Dr. Michael Hayes, early physician in Nashwauk Minnesota
Dr. Michael Hayes, early physician in Nashwauk Minnesota

At that time, the community was already a booming mining town, and people were in need of professional medical services. Dr. Hayes helped make Nashwauk a healthy town in years when the road was all "uphill." He once remarked how people had to wait for traveling dentists to come through; and when the pain got too severe for waiting, he sometimes had to pull the aching tooth.

Dr. Hayes served the Nashwauk area for thirty-seven years; and until his first illness in 1944, he was a partner at the Adams Clinic and a Hibbing General Hospital staff doctor. He served as Nashwauk's director of the American Red Cross for many years, was a school physician for thirty-eight years, and was city health officer for twenty-nine years. He served as government examining physician in both World Wars. After forty years of service (1952), he thought it was time to rest; though he always kept his black bag ready for any emergency. He was married to Genevieve Gahan in 1914. He had two children, a son Robert, who died in 1948, and a daughter Patricia (Mrs. John Redmond), Park Ridge, Illinois. There are eight grandchildren. Dr. Hayes died in September. 1954, after a lingering illness. Mrs. Hayes died in July, 1971.

Other early doctors were: Dr. C.N. Harris, Dr. W.J. Hewson, and Dr. D. Sewell, the latter who built a dispensary-hospital and physicians' residence in 1903 which was later the Anton Hribar home on Upper Third Street. Dr. Irving Kiesling, 1917 to about 1939, was associated with the former Rood Hospital when they opened a branch here; this office was established in 1916, and a physicians residence and hospital were built in 1919.

Dr. J. Webster Raattama was affiliated with the Adams Clinic when he began his practice here in 1949, and until his death in 1963. He received his schooling in Nashwauk, Carlton College, and the University of Minnesota. He served four years in the army medical department as a biochemist and sanitary officer in the Western Base Section of Europe. The Adams Clinic closed in Nashwauk on July 1, 1967, after the death of Raattama.

The Itasca Clinic began its practice of medicine in Nashwauk on January 1, 1941. The first doctor was Dr. Raymond Johnson, who was here until May 1 of that year when Dr. O.C. Braun replaced him. Dr. Braun (married to former Rose Bonaventura) practiced here until 1949 when he joined the clinic in Grand Rapids. He was followed by Dr. J.S. Lewis, Dr. Roy R. Juntunen, Dr. R.T. Kelly, Dr. K.E. Ahola, and Dr. G.W. Ireland. The Itasca Clinic moved out of Nashwauk in 1957.

The Itasca Clinic re-opened a satellite clinic here on March 3, 1978, in the rear of the Marko Bolf building on First Street and Central Avenue. The office is open two days a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, with seven different doctors from the clinic in Grand Rapids serving on a rotation basis. The hope is to establish a full-time doctor once again in the community.

Dr. Larry Kruger opened the Nashwauk Clinic on July 1, 1963. Prior to that, he was affiliated for six years with the Mesaba Clinic and was in practice at Coleraine from 1956 until coming to Nashwauk. Dr. Kruger practiced medicine here until he left Nashwauk on October 30, 1971, for Hallock, Minnesota to establish his practice.


In the early days traveling dentists served the residents of Nashwauk. One such name mentioned was a Dr. Blix, who would come from Duluth and spend a week here with his headquarters at the Ollila Hotel. A Dr. Dore practiced here about 1920.

Dr. Weber located in Nashwauk in 1919 and had his office upstairs in the Zagar building for 53 years before moving across the street in 1972 to the Englund building where he remained in practice until his retirement in 1975.

Dr. Weber was married in 1919 to Grace Carlson of Brainerd. Mrs. Weber died in 1952. Dr. Weber was remarried in 1955 to Mildred Grose, an elementary teacher in Nash­wauk. The Weber children include Dr. John, a dentist in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Lois (Mrs. Harry McAllister). Westlund, Michigan. Dr. Weber died December 1976 after practicing dentistry in Nashwauk for 56 years.

Retirement party held for Dr. O.M. Weber in 1975, Nashwauk Minnesota
Retirement party held for Dr. O.M. Weber in 1975: Seated. L. to R.: Mrs. Weber, Dr. Weber, Elaine Latvala. Standing. L. to R.: Gail Gangl, Helen and Robert Buescher, Les Gangl, Herbert L. Latvala.

Dr. A.W. Craven established his dental practice here in 1924 with offices in the First National Bank building. Dr. Craven helped organize the Nashwauk chapter of the Isaac Walton League and was its first president. He was elected village trustee for three terms from 1933-1942. He was a charter member of the Nashwauk Lions Club and served as the first president of the organization. He was married to the former May Walker. Dr. Craven died in 1970 after 45 years of dental practice.

Dr. Thomas Waite established a dental practice in the Englund building in 1972 and was here only a short time. He was followed by Dr. John Cornell, 1975-1976, and Dr. Paul O'Brien, who is Nashwauk's only dentist today. Dr. O'Brien graduated from the University of Minnesota, School of Dentistry, in 1972. He practiced dentistry in the army at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, until May, 1976. Dr. O'Brien began his practice here in June 1976. Two dental assistants have been employed by Dr. O'Brien, since then.

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