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 Longyear brought diamond drilling to the Mesabi

E.J. Longyear's historic first diamond drill site on the famed Mesabi Iron Range, established in 1890, is located about three miles north of Hoyt Lakes on County Road 666.

A new concept in iron exploration

Young Edmund J. Longyear, then a recent graduate of Michigan Mining School at Houghton, arrived at "Mesaba Station" boom town on May 22. He was of the opinion that his experience in looking at land would be "worth much more to me in Minnesota". 

It was a primitive Mesabi in 1890. Engulfed in dense white pine forests, a railroad to the Soudan mines, a few saloons, and outfitters bunched together as "Mesaba Station" were the only signs of civilization. Here Longyear brought his bride, Nevada, to a one-room hut a mile or so southeast of the townsite where he and two partners set up their steam drilling rig on May 27.

On June, 3, Longyear's steam engine began driving its diamond-bitted drill to an ultimate depth of 1,293 feet. This first attempt failed to show evidence of recoverable ore, but was the beginning of a new era in iron exploration.

Equipment used at the Drill Site

Vertical Steam Boiler: Fueled by wood and coal, this steam boiler delivered all power to the drill, churn buck, and water pump.  Donated by the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co., Ispheming, Michigan. 

Sullivan Model "H" Drill: This drill held the diamond bits that rotated to drill and cored the earth. The drill and churn buck were donated by Ira D. Odgers, Iron River, Michigan. 

Churn Buck: The churn buck was used to wash and drive down the drill casing and to remove casings upon completion of the drill hole. 

Cameron #3 Steam Water Pump: Its purpose was to cool the diamond bits and wash down the casing. Donated by Harry C. Walker of Athens-Walker Co., Duluth, Minnesota. 

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