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Iron ore and baseball celebrated at Chisholm's Minnesota Museum of Mining

Finding Minnesota: Chisholm's Minnesota Museum of Mining
Finding Minnesota: Chisholm's Minnesota Museum of Mining 03:11

CHISHOLM, Minn. -- On the Iron Range there's a place where iron ore meets America's pastime.

In this week's Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen takes us to the "Minnesota Museum of Mining" in Chisholm, where big rigs and baseball are front and center.

"Chisholm is kind of remarkable in that it's a small town that is not dying," said Carol Borich.

Part of that is thanks to the Minnesota Museum of Mining. It takes visitors down a 140-year-old path. Back to the early days of iron ore mining.

"Many of the mines here were open pit in one part and underground in another part," said Borich.

Chisholm helped build the industry and vice versa. The evidence can be found both inside and outside the museum.

"I feel like a kid in a gigantic toy box," said Chuck Palmquist.

Palmquist worked in the industry for 40 years and he comes from a mining family. These days, he helps take care of the machines from yesteryear -- and he loves it.

"My great-grandfather worked in one mine. My dad worked where I used to work. My uncle worked in another mine," said Palmquist.

Everything you see on the 13-acre site once played an important role. It shows how haul trucks have gotten bigger over the decades, and how giant drills and steam shovels -- like steel dinosaurs -- once roamed this landscape.  


"I think it was eight people it took to run this, just the shovel," said Palmquist.

As technology advanced, the equipment became outdated and was simply given away.

"As that equipment gets obsolete, the mining companies were happy to donate that," said Borich.

But not everything there is connected to iron ore. One of the first Greyhound buses is at the museum.

"It's not only one of the first Greyhound buses, it's one of the first buses," said Borich.

There's also preservation of northern Minnesota logging, preservation of Chisholm's free press, and preservation of arguably the town's most famous figure.

In the movie "Field of Dreams," the characters played by Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are tasked with finding Archibald "Moonlight" Graham in Chisholm. Graham was famous for playing baseball in the majors for just one inning -- but he never got the ball hit to him, and he never got to bat.

"This is Doc Graham's chair when he retired," said Borich, in a display dedicated to Graham.

After his cup of coffee in the majors, Graham moved to Chisholm and became doctor. He picked the town because of a lung condition.

"A doctor friend of his from the Chicago area recommended that he get up to a place where the air is clean and get away from inner city smoke and pollution," said Borich.

Like the museum itself, he's part of the past in Chisholm. But this is a town that's learned to stay alive by celebrating its history.

"You don't have to be a ghost town," said Borich. "Chisholm is kind of one of those amazing places that believes in itself no matter what. And they never say die."

The Minnesota Museum of Mining opens in May. Click here for more information.

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